Languages of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Content List

  • About
  • About Andamanese Language
  • References

About

According to myths, the name ‘Andaman’ is said to be derived from ‘Hanuman’, who was known to the Malays as Handuman. The first settlement by the British took place in 1789, which was later abandoned in 1796. The second settlement was basically a penal settlement, taken up in 1858, after the First War of Independence, followed by the settlement of convicts, Moplas, some criminal tribes from Central and United Provinces, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as ex-servicemen.

The aboriginal tribes of the Andamans have been living on these islands since pre-historic times. The tribes on Andaman islands are the Great Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas, and Sentinatese, all of Negrito origin. The tribes of Nicobars are of Mongoloid stock – Nicobarese and Shompens. The indigenous people of the Nicobars (unrelated to the Andamanese) have a similarly isolated and lengthy association with the islands. There are two main groups: the Nicobarese, or Nicobari, living throughout many of the islands; and the Shompen, restricted to the interior of Great Nicobar. In these islands people of all faiths – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc., and of all languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Nicobari etc., live together in complete peace and harmony. Inter-religion and inter-regional marriages are common. This amazing racial and cultural mix is correctly called Mini-India.

About Andamese

Andamanese language, language spoken by the indigenous people of the Andaman Islands. The number of speakers of the language has been steadily decreasing. Andamanese dialects are usually classified into northern, central, and southern groups, with the southern dialects being the most archaic. The dialect of Little Andaman Island is the southernmost of the Andamanese dialects and diverges greatly from the others. One of the chief characteristics of Andamanese grammar is the use of affixes (especially prefixes) to specify the functions of the words of a sentence. The language has no number system; the two number words in the language mean “one” and “more than one.” Andamanese is not known to be related to any other language.