Jarawa language (Andaman Islands)

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Not to be confused with Jarawa language (Nigeria).
Native to India
Region Andaman Islands; interior and south central Rutland island, central interior and south interior of South Andaman island, Middle Andaman island, west coast, 70 square km reserve.
Ethnicity Jarawa
Native speakers
270  (2001–2002)[1]
Literacy rate in L1: Below 1%.
  • Jarawa
Language codes
ISO 639-3 anq
Glottolog jara1245[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Järawa or Jarwa is an Ongan language spoken by the Jarawa people of the interior and south central Rutland Island, central interior and south interior South Andaman Island, and the west coast of Middle Andaman Island.

Järawa means 'foreigners' in Aka-Bea, their traditional enemies. Like many peoples, they call themselves simply aong "people".


The Pucikwar tribe disappeared as a distinct group sometime after 1931.[3]

As the numbers of Great Andamanese progressively declined over the succeeding decades, the various Great Andamanese tribes either disappeared altogether or became amalgamated through intermarriage. By the 1901 census, the Pucikwar were reduced to 50,[4] but distinctions between tribal groups and subgroups had become considerably blurred (and some intermarriage had also occurred with Indian and Karen (Burmese) settlers). By 1994, the 38 remaining Great Andamanese who could trace their ancestry and culture back to the original tribes belonged to only three of them (Jeru, Bo, and Cari).[4]


Jarawa has six vowels and sixteen consonants, along with possible additional retroflexes, aspirates, and/or another vowel phoneme.[5]


Front Central Back
Close i   u
Close-mid e   o
Mid   ə  
Open   a  


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
plain lab.
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t c k
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative h (hʷ)
Trill r
Approximant l j w


Word-initial contrast between /p/ and /b/ is disappearing, with /p/ becoming /b/ (note that in Onge /p/ is not phonemically present).[6]

Jarawa words are at least monosyllabic, and content words are at least bimoraic.[6] Maximal syllables are CVC.[6]

/c/ voices intervocalically in derived environments, /ə/ syncopates when followed by another vowel across a morpheme boundary, /ə/ becomes [o] when the next syllable has a round vowel, and whole syllables may be deleted in fast speech.[6]


  1. ^ Chittaranjan Kumar Paty & Forest, government, and tribe (2007:102)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Jarawa (India)". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ George van Driem (2001), Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region : Containing an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language, BRILL, ISBN 90-04-12062-9, ... The Aka-Kol tribe of Middle Andaman went extinct by 1921. The Oko-Juwoi of Middle Andaman and the Aka-Bea of South Andaman and Rutland Island were extinct by 1931. The Akar-Bale of Ritchie's Archipelago, the Aka-Kede of Middle Andaman and the A-Pucikwar of South Andaman Island soon followed. By 1951, the census counted a total of only 23 Greater Andamanese and 10 Sentinelese. That means that just ten men, twelve women and one child remained of the Aka-Kora, Aka-Cari and Aka-Jeru tribes of Greater Andaman and only ten natives of North Sentinel Island ... 
  4. ^ a b A. N. Sharma (2003), Tribal Development in the Andaman Islands, page 75. Sarup & Sons, New Delhi.
  5. ^ Blevins (2007:160–161)
  6. ^ a b c d Blevins (2007:161)


  • Blevins, Juliette (2007), "A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands", Oceanic Linguistics 46 (1): 154–198, doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0015 

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