Ongan languages

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Ongan
South Andamanese
Geographic
distribution:
Andaman Islands
Linguistic classification: One of the world's primary language families; geographically among the Andamanese languages
Subdivisions:
Glottolog: jara1244[1]
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Distribution of the Ongan languages prior to 1850 (Fig. 1) and in 2005 (Fig. 2)

Ongan, also called South Andamanese or Jarawa–Onge, is a small family of two languages, Önge and Jarawa, spoken in the southern Andaman Islands:

The two extant languages are:

  • Önge or Onge (〈ö〉 transcribes /ə/); 96 speakers (Onge) in 1997, mostly monolingual
  • Jarawa or Järawa; estimated at 200 speakers (Jarawa) in 1997, monolingual

A third language, Jangil, extinct sometime between 1895 and 1920, is reported to have been unintelligible with but to have had noticeable connections with Jarawa.

Classification[edit]

The Andamanese languages fall into two clear families, Great Andamanese and Ongan, plus one presumed but unattested language, Sentinelese. The similarities between Great Andamanese and Ongan are mainly of a typological and morphological nature, with little demonstrated common vocabulary. Linguists, including long-range researchers such as Joseph Greenberg, have expressed doubts as to the validity of Andamanese as a family.[2] It has since been proposed that Ongan (but not Great Andamanese) is distantly related to Austronesian in a family called Austronesian–Ongan,[3] but the proposal has not been well received.

The two attested Ongan languages are relatively close, and the historical sound reconstruction mostly straightforward:

Proto-Ongan consonant correspondences[4]
Proto-Ongan *p *b *t *d *kʷ *k *j *w *c *m *n *l *r
Jarawa p, b b t d hʷ, h h ɡ, j j w c ɟ m n ɲ ŋ l r
Onge b b t, d d, r kʷ, h k, ɡ ɡ, Ø j w c, ɟ ɟ m n ɲ ŋ l, j r/j/l, Ø
Proto-Ongan vowel correspondences in open nonfinal syllables[4]
Proto-Ongan *i *u *a *e *o (*ə)
Jarawa i u a e, ə, o o (ə)
Onge i u a e, ə, o o (ə)

*ə appears to be allophonic for *e before a nasal coda.

Grammar[edit]

The Ongan languages are agglutinative, with an extensive prefix and suffix system.[5][6] They have 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).[7] Another peculiarity of terms for body parts is that they 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".[7]

The Ongan pronouns are here represented by Önge:

I, my m- we, our et-, ot-
thou, thy ŋ- you, your n-
he, his, she, her, it, its g- they, their ekw-, ek-, ok-

There is also an indefinite prefix ən-, on- "someone's". Jarawa does not have the plural series, but the singular is very close: m-, ŋ- or n-, w-, ən-. From this, Blevins reconstructs Proto-Ongan *m-, *ŋ-, *gw-, *en-.

Judging from the available sources, the Andamanese languages have only two cardinal numbers: one and two and their entire numerical lexicon is one, two, one more, some more, and all.[6]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blevins, Juliette (2007), "A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands" (PDF), Oceanic Linguistics 46 (1): 154–198, doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0015  (available here)
  • Das Gupta, D. and S. R. Sharma. A Handbook of the Önge Language. Anthropological Survey of India: Calcutta 1982.
  • E. H. Man, Dictionary of the South Andaman Language, British India Press: Bombay 1923.
  • Senkuttuvan, R. 2000. The Language of the Jarawa: Phonology. Calcutta: Anthropological Survey of India, Government of India, Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs, and Sports, Dept. of Culture.
  • Sreenathan, M. 2001. Jarwa - Language and Culture. Anthropological Survey of India, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Kolkata

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Jarawa–Onge". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  2. ^ Greenberg, Joseph (1971). "The Indo-Pacific Hypothesis." Current Trends in Linguistics Vol. 8, ed. by Thomas A. Sebeok, 807.71. The Hague: Mouton.
  3. ^ Blevins, Juliette (2007), "A Long Lost Sister of Proto-Austronesian? Proto-Ongan, Mother of Jarawa and Onge of the Andaman Islands" (PDF), Oceanic Linguistics 46 (1): 154–198, doi:10.1353/ol.2007.0015 
  4. ^ a b Blevins (2007:163–164)
  5. ^ Abbi, Anvita (2006). Endangered Languages of the Andaman Islands. Germany: Lincom GmbH.
  6. ^ a b 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.
  7. ^ a b Burenhult, Niclas (1996). "Deep Linguistic Prehistory with Particular Reference to Andamanese." Working Papers 45, 5-24. Lund University: Department of Linguistics

External links[edit]