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andamanese varnamaala


About the Great Andamanese people and the language

It has been known that the disparate groups of Great Andamanese tribe each speaking an independent language, once inhabited the entire region of the Andaman Islands in the southeast of the Indian subcontinent in the Bay of Bengal (see territory occupied coloured in purple Map 1 and the fig 1 given below).


The Andamanese represent the last survivors of the pre-Neolithic population of Southeast Asia. Genetic research (Thangaraj et al, 2005) indicates that the Andamanese tribes are the remnants of the first migration from Africa that took place 70,000 years ago. See http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/308/5724/996 A pdf version is available on Other.

The Present Great Andamanese is a mixed language of four different but mutually intelligible varieties of the recently discovered the sixth language family India. Hence it can be called Mixed Great Andamanese [MGA]. The Great Andamanese family was represented by ten different languages which are extinct now and remain only in the form of MGA which has drawn its sources from Sare, Jeru, Khora and Bo languages of the North Andaman. The last speakers of Khora and Bo were lost to us in the last two years (Fig. 2 given below).


Presently, the population figure of the Great Andamanese is very small. Of the 53 remaining Great Andamanese people who live in the Strait Island and in the city of Port Blair, in the Union Territory of the Andaman Islands of India, there are only five terminal speakers of the Mixed Great Andamanese language, popularly known as Jero or Jeru. The language, at present, is in a ‘very critical’ stage (see Map 2). Even these few speakers have stopped speaking the language among them selves. When the project was launched there were nine speakers of the MGA who also had some competency in their respective mother tongues, such as Bo or Khora. Refer to Language Graphs. The Great Andamanese speakers are multilingual in a broad sense as they all can converse with varying degree of competency in MGA as well as in local Hindi which is not a standard variety but is the lingua franca of the region and they also know some lexicon from one of the four languages of which MGA is constituted. The common language used for daily interaction is this local Hindi, popularly known as Andamanese Hindi.


Boa Sr.


Noa Jr.