Present Great Andamanese is a moribund language and is on the verge of extinction. The current study is an outcome of the first-hand collected data in the interdisciplinary research in Linguistics and Ornithology. We present all the avian Families, Genera and Species recognized by the Great Andamanese people including the current conservation status, threats and distribution of avian species, endemic to the region. Indigenous names in the language were analyzed linguistically and discernible categories were classified empirically. Since the identifiable categories include avian names with single, double and triple attributes the semiotic analysis of the bird names exposes the worldview of the Great Andamanese people. What emerges is a typology of attributes where single attribute names are generic, etic, onomatopoeic, eponyms, toponyms, impressionist, morphological, plumage colour, feeding habit, association with habitat and migratory habit. Double attribute names include those that represent a habit, habitat or morphological feature of a bird and its effect on humans, association with bird movement, calling habits or conjugal behaviour; ecological features like habitats, nesting habits, and perch sites; social and mythical associations, pan-human perception for naming and classification of natural kinds, comparison with other unrelated animate or inanimate objects. Triple attribute names are a combination of the above categories. An understanding of these names helps us to appreciate how the Great Andamanese interacted with their avian environment and since it bears on classification and knowledge of natural kinds, could aid in effective conservation efforts.
The current study is of immense historical nature and can be used in future to establish any relationship with other languages and tribes of the Andaman Islands. The present study is the first of its kind pertaining to the Great Andamanese language.
The study is done in collaboration with the well-known ornithologist Dr Satish Pande who could correlate the indigenous avian names with the scientific names. The outcome of the present study was published in a form of a book which was launched by SOAS, University of London, UK in 2011. Birds of the Great Andamanese
It was interesting to know that Andamanese neither hunt birds nor eat them as birds are considered their ancestors. Refer to the story jiro Mithe. We also witnessed Boa Sr talking to birds as there was no one else in the community who spoke her ancient language Bo. she believed that birds understood her.
As readers will realize the Andamanese names for birds distinguished between endemic and migratory birds, such was their keen observation of nature.
Nao Jr was the only person who had the vast knowledge about Andamanese birds. He never got tired talking about their habitats, colour and nesting habits as he was a very keen observer of birds during his childhood.
Sample Pages of the book: