A Sociolinguistic Study of A Preliterate Tribe Ang (Jarawa) of Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India

Author: Piyusa Ranjan Sahoo (Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India, India)
Speaker: Piyusa Ranjan Sahoo
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
CALA 2020 General Session


Ang (Jarawa) is one of a group of preliterate tribes with negrito physical attributes residing on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India. Considering the small population and present vulnerable circumstances of the tribe, the tribe has been named “The Particularly vulnerable tribe” by the Government of India, as well as Shompen, Sentineles, Onge and Great Andamanese of these Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Ang (Jarawa) is a surviving nomadic hunter and gatherer tribe. Investigations suggest that 22 dialects previously prevailed among the tribes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but at present only 12 dialects exist, the other ten now presenting a mystery. One of these dialects, the Ang (Jarawa) dialect, has no affinity with other Indian languages, but shows considerable resemblance to other dialects of the Onge people. This dialect does not have a script, and contains 13 vowel phonemes and 26 consonants. Few studies have been conducted on the language of Ang (Jarawa) and its linguistic shifts.

The present study focuses on the sociolinguistic elements and values of the Ang (Jarawa) dialect and its diachronic change. This shift has occurred in various ways: In contact with missions since 1974, Ang (Jarawa) has had introduced into the language non Ang words from Hindi; with the end of the phase of turbulence in the late 1990s, both the Ang (Jarawas) and the non-Ang increased interethnic contact. The study investigates that this increased ethnic and language contact altered the language and through which the Ang dialect saw ‘denigration.’ Similarly, the development of non-formal educational programmes among the Ang negatively impacted on the Ang dialect.

Keywords: Ang, hunter and gatherer, Dialect,