Aka-Bea language

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Bea
Aka-Bea
Native to India
Region Andaman Islands; South Andaman island except northeast coast, and north and east interiors; Rutland island except south coast; small islands southeast of Rutland; Labyrinth Islands.
Extinct by 1931[1]
Great Andamanese
  • Southern
    • Bea
Language codes
ISO 639-3 abj
Glottolog akab1249[2]
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The Bea language, Aka-Bea,[3] is an extinct Great Andamanese language of the Southern[4] group. It was spoken around the western Andaman Strait and around the northern and western coast of South Andaman.

History[edit]

The Bea were one of the indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands, one of the ten or so Great Andamanese tribes identified by British colonials in the 1860s. Their language was closely related to the other Great Andamanese languages. They were extinct as a distinct people by 1931.[1]

Grammar[edit]

The Great Andamanese languages are agglutinative languages, with an extensive prefix and suffix system.[5] They have a distinctive noun class system based largely on body parts, in which every noun and adjective may take a prefix according to which body part it is associated with (on the basis of shape, or functional association). Thus, for instance, the *aka- at the beginning of the language names is a prefix for objects related to the tongue.[5] An adjectival example can be given by the various forms of yop, "pliable, soft", in Aka-Bea:[5]

  • A cushion or sponge is ot-yop "round-soft", from the prefix attached to words relating to the head or heart.
  • A cane is ôto-yop, "pliable", from a prefix for long things.
  • A stick or pencil is aka-yop, "pointed", from the tongue prefix.
  • A fallen tree is ar-yop, "rotten", from the prefix for limbs or upright things.

Similarly, beri-nga "good" yields:

  • un-bēri-ŋa "clever" (hand-good).
  • ig-bēri-ŋa "sharp-sighted" (eye-good).
  • aka-bēri-ŋa "good at languages" (tongue-good.)
  • ot-bēri-ŋa "virtuous" (head/heart-good)

The prefixes are,

Bea Balawa? Bajigyâs? Juwoi Kol
head/heart ot- ôt- ote- ôto- ôto-
hand/foot ong- ong- ong- ôn- ôn-
mouth/tongue âkà- aka- o- ókô- o-
torso (shoulder to shins) ab- ab- ab- a- o-
eye/face/arm/breast i-, ig- id- ir- re- er-
back/leg/butt ar- ar- ar- ra- a-
waist ôto-

Body parts are inalienably possessed, requiring a possessive adjective prefix to complete them, so one cannot say "head" alone, but only "my, or his, or your, etc. head".

The basic pronouns are almost identical throughout the Great Andamanese languages; Aka-Bea will serve as a representative example (pronouns given in their basic prefixal forms):

I, my d- we, our m-
thou, thy ŋ- you, your ŋ-
he, his, she, her, it, its a they, their l-

'This' and 'that' are distinguished as k- and t-.

Judging from the available sources, the Andamanese languages have only two cardinal numbersone and two — and their entire numerical lexicon is one, two, one more, some more, and all.[5]

Samples[edit]

The following poem in Aka-Bea was written by a chief, Jambu, after he was freed from a six-month jail term for manslaughter.[6]

ngô:do kûk l'àrtâ:lagî:ka,
mō:ro el:ma kâ igbâ:dàla
mō:ro el:mo lê aden:yarà
pō:-tōt läh.
Chorus: aden:yarà pō:-tōt läh.

Literally:

thou heart-sad art,
sky-surface to there looking while,
sky-surface of ripple to looking while,
bamboo spear on lean-dost.

Translation:

Thou art sad at heart,
gazing there at the sky's surface,
gazing at the ripple on the sky's surface,
leaning on the bamboo spear.

Note, however, that, as seems to be typical of Andamanese poetry, the words and sentence structure have been somewhat abbreviated or inverted in order to obtain the desired rhythmical effect.

As another example, we give part of a creation myth in Oko-Juwoi, reminiscent of Prometheus:

Kuro-t'on-mik-a Mom Mirit-la, Bilik l'ôkô-ema-t, peakar at-lo top-chike at laiche Lech-lin a, kotik a ôko-kodak-chine at-lo Karat-tatak-emi-in.

Literally:

"Kuro-t'on-mik-in Mr. Pigeon, God ?-slep-t, wood fire-with stealing-was fire the.late Lech-to he, then he ?-fire-make-did fire-with Karat-tatak-emi-at."

Translated (by Portman):

Mr. Pigeon stole a firebrand at Kuro-t'on-mika, while God was sleeping. He gave the brand to the late Lech, who then made fires at Karat-tatak-emi.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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 Oko-Juwoi of Middle Andaman and the Aka-Bea of South Andaman and Rutland Island were extinct by 1931. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Aka-Bea". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ also Beada ~ Biada or Bogijiab ~ Bojigniji ~ Bojigyab
  4. ^ Manoharan, S. (1983). "Subgrouping Andamanese group of languages." International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics XII(1): 82-95.
  5. ^ a b c d Temple, Richard C. (1902). A Grammar of the Andamanese Languages, being Chapter IV of Part I of the Census Report on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Superintendent's Printing Press: Port Blair.
  6. ^ Man, E.H. (1923). Dictionary of the South Andaman Language. British India Press: Bombay