Aka-Cari language

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Native to India
Region Andaman Islands; north coast of North Andaman Island, Landfall Island, other nearby small islands.
Extinct sometime after 1994[1]
Great Andamanese
  • Northern
    • Cari
Language codes
ISO 639-3 aci
Glottolog akac1240[2]
Schematic Map of Andamanese Languages & Tribes.png

The Cari (Kari) or Chariar language, Aka-Cari (Aka-Kari), is an extinct Great Andamanese language, of the Northern group, which was spoken by the Cari tribe of the Great Andamanese people.[3][4]

In the 19th century the Cari tribe lived on the north coast of North Andaman and on Landfall and other nearby small islands. By 1994 the tribe was reduced to two women aged over 50 living with the other few surviving Great Andamanese on Strait Island.[1]


The Kari population at the time of first European contacts (in the 1790s) has been estimated at 100 individuals, out of perhaps 3500 Great Andamanese.[4] Like other Andamanese peoples, the Kari were decimated during colonial and post-colonial times, by diseases, alcohol, colonial warfare and loss of territory. The population was down to 39 individuals in the 1901 census, falling to 36 in 1911, 17 in 1921, and 9 in 1931.[1]

In 1949 any remaining Kari were relocated, together with all other surviving Great Andamanese, to a reservation on Bluff island; and then again in 1969 to a reservation on Strait Island.[5]

By 1994, the tribe was reduced to only two women, aged 57 and 59, and therefore was on its way to extinction.[1] They are a designated Scheduled Tribe.[6]


The Great Andamanese languages are agglutinative languages, with an extensive prefix and suffix system.[7] Possibly their most distinctive characteristic is a 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.[7] An adjectival example can be given by the various forms of yop, "pliable, soft", in Aka-Bea:[7]

  • 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.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d A. N. Sharma (2003), Tribal Development in the Andaman Islands, page 62. Sarup & Sons, New Delhi.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Aka-Cari". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue India
  4. ^ a b George Weber (~2009), Numbers. Chapter 7 of The Andamanese. Accessed on 2012-07-12. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "weber7" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ Rann Singh Mann (2005), Andaman and Nicobar Tribes Restudied: Encounters and Concerns, page 149. Mittal Publications. ISBN 81-8324-010-0
  6. ^ "List of notified Scheduled Tribes" (PDF). Census India. p. 27. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  7. ^ 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.