Last fluent speaker of a 65,000 year old language died Thurs

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Diamonddavej
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06 Feb 2010, 10:08 pm

Last fluent speaker of eastern Great Andamanese, Boa Sr., an 85 year old member of the Great Andamanese tribe, died a few days ago. She lived on Little Strait Island, a small Island east of Great Andaman island in the Bay of Bengal.

Image

Contrary to reports in the media, Boa Sr. did not speak Bo. She spoke a mixture of 4 eastern Great Andamanese languages - Jero, Sare, Bo and Khora.

Boa Sr. and her tribe of 50 Great Andamanese are the last remaining descendants of approx.10,000 eastern Great Andamanese, originally 10 tribes that lived on Great Andaman Island. The Andamanese were untouched by the outside world for about 65,000 years, they are believed from genetic analysis to be the descendants of the first people who left Africa beginning 90,000 years ago, who followed a coastal route from the Horn of Africa via India, all the way to Australia. I find it fascinating that they look so African, when they were first discovered westerners thought they were African slaves that were left shipwrecked on the Andaman Islands.

Sadly, beginning in the mid-19th century during British colonial times, the Andamanese were almost wiped out by wars and disease. Boa Sr. remembered being bombed by the Japanese during WWII. The western Great Andamanese now include the Jarawa (250), the Onge (97) and the Sentinelese tribes (50 to 200 people).

The Sentinelese are the last uncontacted tribe on Earth, a National Geographic expedition in the 1970s landed on their Island briefly but ended in near disaster when a camera man was nearly killed by an Iron spear that pierced his thigh, the expedition ran away (the Sentinelese obtained iron from a shipwrecked boat). Later in the 1990s several expeditions managed to throw them a few coconuts, but further contact attempts were banned. Lastly, after the 2004 boxing day tsunami, they fired arrows at a helicopter that was sent to see if they were OK.

The Jarawa established friendly contact about 15 years ago and a main road was driven though their territory, bringing with it threats of disease and prostitution. The Onge were subjugated in the 1960s and a plantation was established on their island, they now number 97 (down from 600 100 years ago) and live on hand outs. 8 members of the Onge tribe died a few years ago when a barrel of chemicals washed up on a beach, the Onge men thinking it was alcohol, drank its contents and died.

Sentinelese defending their Island in 2004
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More about the Great Andamanese and Boa Sr.

http://www.andamanese.net/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/fe ... eaker-dies

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/0 ... index.html - Boa Sr. singing and talking about the Boxing Day Tsunami

The Jarawa Tribe
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwRY6nbq424[/youtube]


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Last edited by Diamonddavej on 07 Feb 2010, 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

phil777
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07 Feb 2010, 12:04 am

It's amusing and at the same time frightening how we have this odd habit of not letting people alone. <.<



Wombat
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09 Feb 2010, 7:43 am

I think there are/were something like 500 tribal languages in New Guinea. Is this good within one tiny country?

It is bad enough that Englishmen or Frenchmen can't talk to Germans or Italians without one of them learning a second language. And this within the European Union.

Should Irish or Scottish children be brought up on Gaelic and learn English as a second language?

I regret the loss of culture and diversity but the sooner everyone speaks the same language the better off we will be.

Imagine if every state in the United States of America spoke a different language. How would that work out?



MissFishy
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11 Feb 2010, 9:58 pm

I disagree. I think language deserves preservation, and that living bilingually enriches a person's life, whether they learn a more global tongue first, or their heritage's tongue. It makes me terribly sad to see languages die--but also terribly interested in how it happens and what is in the language.



sartresue
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12 Feb 2010, 8:36 am

Interference topic

Language is the greater part of culture. Not all ways of doing and knowing translate into another language. The death of a dialect is the most striking blow to an end to a culture.

This is what happens when the Prime Directive is ignored, and we are also penalized if we follow it. :?


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Khan_Sama
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12 Feb 2010, 8:52 am

I was brought up learning to speak in English, and I can barely command a decent amount of my own native tongue. I have great difficulty reading an Urdu newspaper.

As beautiful it may be as a language, I strongly support linguistic assimilation. It strives to create a united global society. With the advent of television, internet, etc, dialects will no longer splinter into new languages. American and Australian English is proof of this.



mgran
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12 Feb 2010, 8:52 am

Wombat wrote:
I think there are/were something like 500 tribal languages in New Guinea. Is this good within one tiny country?

It is bad enough that Englishmen or Frenchmen can't talk to Germans or Italians without one of them learning a second language. And this within the European Union.

Should Irish or Scottish children be brought up on Gaelic and learn English as a second language?

I regret the loss of culture and diversity but the sooner everyone speaks the same language the better off we will be.

Imagine if every state in the United States of America spoke a different language. How would that work out?
Well, it didn't do me any harm.



pbcoll
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14 Feb 2010, 6:42 pm

I don't believe in artificially keeping languages on life support, and I don't believe in deliberate suppression. I think the ideal situation is one like what the Dutch, Swedes, Swiss do: everybody is at the very least bilingual. There is no contradiction between keeping a local language and being able to speak in a more international language. Part of the problem is how stubbornly monolingual some cultures are.


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0_equals_true
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14 Feb 2010, 7:00 pm

Sentinelese aren't the last uncontacted uncontested tribe on earth, planes flying over the Amazon find uncontacted tribes all the time.