Herodotus Returns

Last speaker of ancient language Bo dies in India
February 5, 2010, 10:04 am
Filed under: India | Tags: , ,

BBC reports that an 80-year-old woman named Boa Sr, the last to speak the ancient language Bo, has passed away in the Andaman Islands, located off the eastern coast of India. The Andamans are fascinating – an anthropologists’ dream, they’re called – because some of the island’s languages date back 70,000 years to pre-Neolithic times. As evidenced by Boa, who lived as the world’s only speaker of Bo after her parents died 30 years before, many of these languages are slowly dying out. I recommend you check out the audio file of Boa Sr speaking Bo. She sounds like she is singing.

She said that Boa Sr’s death was a loss for intellectuals wanting to study more about the origins of ancient languages, because they had lost “a vital piece of the jigsaw”.

“It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representatives of those languages which go back to pre-Neolithic times,” Professor Abbi said.

Here’s more on the BBC story.

A few tangential searches about the Andaman Islands brought me to an article about the Sentinelese, an aboriginal group inhabiting a small island in the chain that has had little contact with the outside world. Here’s a great article about the Sentinelese from the scholar Adam Goodheart.


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