Dying languages saved for posterity
The keeper of dying languages
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)
Leverhulme Public Lecture
The Mercury, South Africa
Daily Telegraph, Australia
"Last speaker of ancient language of Bo dies in India" http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8498534.stm published in BBC News on Thursday, 4 February 2010.
"Extinct: Andamanese tribe's extermination complete as last member dies" http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/5509 pulished on 4 February 2010.
"When we launched the project Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (VOGA) it was a national use. Several newspapers in English and Hindi covered the item because of its Linguistic significance and far reaching consequences for human knowledge of history, our ancient culture, language, link to human migration and peopling of India".
When words become windows to a society - published in "Time of India" on 1st February, 2009
Bhasha ki Aadim Pahchan - published in "Hindustan" on 18th January, 2009
JNU don compiles dictionary in Great Andamanese -- published in 'The Hindu" on 12th January, 2009
Release of the Book of Letters in Daily Telegram, the local newspaper of the Andamans.
A language that only Great Andamanese speak published in DownToEarth magzine
Arnab Pratim Dutta
The Great Andamanese tribe speaks a language that no one else in the world does. A study suggests it could be among the few paleolithic languages that exist in the world and may constitute the sixth language family in India.
Anvita Abbi, professor at the School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and the lead researcher, had observed in 2003 that the Great Andamanese tribe spoke a different language than the Jarawas and the Onges, the other tribes living in the Andaman and Nicobar islands that speak a similar language. In May this year, she confirmed her observations. The result supports a study by Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, in 2005 which said that the Great Andamanese tribe’s genetic make up was different from that of the other tribes.
The study was published online on April 22 in Language Sciences.
“In 2003, our findings were not conclusive. This time we created a database of the languages spoken in the islands,” says Abbi. Grammar, typological features and phonetics were studied. The difference in the way the tribes spoke was determined by the articulation of lips, tongue and vocal folds.
But the language may die soon. There are about 50 people of the Great Andamanese tribe left in an islet called Strait Island, 53 km off the coast of Port Blair. Of these, about eight of them speak the language and that too in bits and pieces. “A corrupted form of Hindi called Andamanese Hindi has replaced the original language and hence even the native speakers have to recollect words and their meanings,” Abbi says. However, the language had 10 different dialects spoken in the early 18th century. To restore the language, Abbi has compiled more than 5,000 words, now being converted into a trilingual dictionary with translations in English and Hindi besides pictorial and phonetic representations of words.