Sentinelese language

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Native to India
Region North Sentinel Island
Ethnicity Sentinelese people
Native speakers
perhaps 100–250 
unknown, possibly Ongan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 std
Glottolog sent1241[1]

Sentinelese is the presumed language of the Sentinelese people of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman Islands, India. Due to the lack of contact between the Sentinelese people and the rest of the world for the past three centuries, nothing is known of their language.[2]


It is presumed that the islanders speak a single language, and that it is a member of one of the Andamanese language families.[2] Based on what little is known about similarities in culture and technology and their geographical proximity, it is supposed that their language is related to the Ongan languages rather than to Great Andamanese.[3] On the two documented occasions when Onge individuals were taken to North Sentinel Island in order to attempt communication, they were unable to recognise any of the language spoken by the inhabitants in the brief and hostile exchanges that resulted.[4][5]

Sentinelese is classified as endangered due to the small number of speakers, which is unknown but has been estimated at anywhere from 100 to 250.[6][7]


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Sentinelese". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ a b "The most isolated tribe in the world?" found at Survival International website. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  3. ^ Ethnologue report for Sentinel. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  4. ^ Vishvajit Pandya, "In the Forest: Visual and Material Worlds of Andamanese History (1858-2006)," p. 361, (University Press of America, 2008) ISBN 0-7618-4153-9, ISBN 978-0-7618-4153-1, found at Google Books. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  5. ^ Dan McDougall, "Survival comes first for the last Stone Age tribe world: Two poachers lie in shallow graves beside the Indian Ocean after they trespassed on an endangered tribe's island. Now even relatives of the victims' want the killers left alone." The Observer, 12 February 2006. Found at Article from The Guardian. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  6. ^ Matthias Brenzinger, "Language diversity endangered," p. 40, (Walter de Gruyter, 2007) ISBN 3-11-017049-3, ISBN 978-3-11-017049-8, found at Google Books. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  7. ^ Christopher Moseley, "Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages," p. 289, 342 (Routledge, 2007) ISBN 978-0-7007-1197-0, found at [1]. Accessed 2009-10-07.