Sentinelese language

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Native to India
Region North Sentinel Island, in the southwest of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Ethnicity Perhaps 100–250 Sentinelese people (2007)[1][2]
Native speakers
Presumably the same (100–250) 
Unknown; possibly Ongan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 std
Glottolog sent1241[3]
Schematic Map of Andamanese Languages & Tribes.png

Sentinelese is the presumed language of the Sentinelese people of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar 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.[4] There is no way to know the vitality of Sentinel as the people do not allow outsiders onto the island and are very hostile towards them.[5]


It is presumed that the islanders speak a single language and that it is a member of one of the Andamanese language families.[4] 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, such as Jarawa, rather than to Great Andamanese.[6] On the two documented occasions when Onge-speaking 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.[7]


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;[1][2] a rough estimate by the Government of India is 100.[8]


  1. ^ a b Brenzinger, Matthias (2007) Language diversity endangered. Walter de Gruyter. p. 40. ISBN 3-11-017049-3.
  2. ^ a b Moseley, Christopher (2007) Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages. Routledge. pp. 289, 342. ISBN 978-0-7007-1197-0.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Sentinel". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  4. ^ a b "The most isolated tribe in the world?" found at Survival International website. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  5. ^ Van Driem, G. (2007). Endangered Languages of South Asia. In Handbook of Endangered Languages (pp. 303–341). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  6. ^ Ethnologue report for Sentinel. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  7. ^ Pandya, Vishvajit (2008) In the Forest: Visual and Material Worlds of Andamanese History (1858–2006). University Press of America. p. 361. ISBN 0-7618-4153-9.
  8. ^ Abbi, Anvita (2006) Endangered Languages of the Andaman Islands. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics. Vol. 64. München: Lincom