Voices from the Lost Horizon: Stories and Songs of the Great Andamanese by Anvita Abbi
(Releasing soon in January 2021)
The Andaman Islands—Great Andaman, Little Andaman, and North Sentinel Islands have been home for millenniums to four tribes: the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, and Sentinelese. Their languages are known by the same name as that of the tribes. ‘Great Andamanese’ is a generic term representing ten languages among a family of languages that were once spoken by ten different tribes living in the north, south, and middle of the Great Andaman Islands. These languages were mutually intelligible like a link in a chain.
However, today, Great Andamanese is a moribund language of the only-surviving pre-Neolithic tribe, breathing its last breath. When a language is on the verge of extinction, its history, culture, ecological base, knowledge of the biodiversity, ethno-linguistic practices, and the identity of its community—everything is endangered. This is what prompted Prof. Anvita Abbi to conduct a research study to give life to the lost oral heritage of the vanishing world of the Great Andamanese.