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]
Schematic Map of Andamanese Languages & Tribes.png
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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, the language of their traditional enemies. Like many peoples, they call themselves simply aong "people".


Jarawa has six vowels and sixteen consonants, along with possible additional retroflexes, aspirates, and/or another vowel phoneme.[3]


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).[4]

Jarawa words are at least monosyllabic, and content words are at least bimoraic.[4] Maximal syllables are CVC.[4]

/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.[4]


  1. ^ Chittaranjan Kumar Paty & Forest, government, and tribe (2007:102)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Jarawa (India)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Blevins (2007:160–161)
  4. ^ 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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