In the Andaman Islands are several small and long-isolated human populations, including one that is, as far as I know, the most isolated human group of them all: the few hundred people living on North Sentinel Island.

One of these populations, as of last week, no longer exists. The last of the Bo-speaking subtribes of the Great Andamanese culture, a woman named Boa Sr (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), has died at the age of 85 or so. The language, which represented a chain of cultural transmission that may have been as much as 70,000 years old, has died with her.

Read this poignant story here. Don’t miss the audio clip.


  1. bob koepp says

    70,000 years? I suppose this reflects current ideas about a group migrating out of Africa, trekking eastward along the rim of the Indian Ocean, about 70,000 years ago. But that’s a pretty slender straw on which to hang ideas about the antiquity of a language.

    Posted February 8, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Right, Bob, that’s the Southern Dispersal notion.

    Slender? Maybe. Anyway, even if it’s not 70,000 years, we are talking about the end of a long run.

    Posted February 8, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

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