Death of Bo language



Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010
Last speaker of Bo language dies

The last speaker of an ancient language in India's Andaman Islands has died at the age of 85. Boa Sr lived in the Bo tribe which is believed to be descended from the oldest human culture on Earth.

Dr Nicholas Ostler, a linguist and chairman of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, explains the historical significance of the language.


Boa Sr. known as chaachii died on 26th January at 11.30pm in the Port Blair hospital . She was the last speaker of Bo language. It pains to see how one by one we are losing speakers of Great Andamanese and language is getting extinct. A very fast erosion of indigenous knowledge base, that we all are helplessly witnessing. She was the only member who remembered the old songs. Most of the songs on my website are sung by her.

David Shariatmadari “The death of a language”


Endangered languages aren't the same as endangered species. Their greatest value isn't scientific, but cultural. For me, the most poignant aspect of Boa Sr's story was the loneliness she felt for the last 30 years, having no one to share tales, to pun or joke with in her mother tongue. The death of a language is the most obvious symptom of an acute human crisis: the loss of a store of wisdom, and a sense of community. We should work, wherever we can, to prevent it.
ところで、BBCの記事にある”an ancient language”という言い方は誤解を招きやすい。或いは、間違っていると言っていいかも知れない。Shariatmadari氏は

Languages are not like stone tablets – they change from one generation to the next until there has been a complete turnover of sounds and structures within a few millennia. There is no sense in which the Bo of Boa Sr is anything like the language spoken by her ancestors 65,000 years ago.
イシ―北米最後の野生インディアン (同時代ライブラリー)

イシ―北米最後の野生インディアン (同時代ライブラリー)

因みに、Shariatmadari氏は上のテクストで、「サピア−ウォーフ仮説」(Cf. 『言語・思考・現実』)を批判している。しかし、このコンビのうちのサピアが極端な言語決定論に傾いたのは晩年のことで、1921年の『言語』(特に第10章「言語と人種と文化」)では「言語の境界」と「文化の境界」が一致しないことが強調されている。

言語―ことばの研究序説 (岩波文庫)

言語―ことばの研究序説 (岩波文庫)