Anggarrgoon quotes the following news report by Abantika Ghosh:

NEW DELHI, MAY 2 Four months ago, his tribe’s near-miraculous escape from the devastating tsunami catapulted King Jirake to fame. His interviews describing the disaster, and how his tribe was adjusting in their new quarters in Port Blair, made headlines across the world.

But all that was in stark contrast to the 65-year-old’s quiet and painful death in a Chennai Hospital on April 17—the tribal chief died of brain haemorrhage and consequent paralysis.

And apart from the 49 remaining members of his tribe, including Jirake’s grandson Berebe, who was born days before he died, the only other people mourning his demise were a group of researchers from the School of Languages in Jawaharlal Nehru University.

For, Jirake was the last member of his tribe who knew all the 10 variants of the Great Andamanese language. With his death, the trilingual Great Andamanese-English-Hindi dictionary that Professor Anvita Abbi’s team from JNU is working on, has suffered a setback that it will probably never be able to fully recover from…

(The rest of the article is here.) I thought at first that the “10 variants” were those listed in the Ethnologue family tree for Great Andamanese, but all except A-Pucikwar are said to be extinct.


  1. I find it hard to believe that there are languages in existence that are not chronicled yet. It seems naive of me to think that we know all there is to know about the different languages.
    I’m happy to learn something new everyday.

  2. Wacky: there are hundreds of inadequately documented languages on Earth, most of them quite imperilled.

  3. Spare a moment to remember the last speaker of any Dalmatian Romance language/dialect (Vegliot, I believe):
    Tuone Udaina, killed by a Turkish landmine on 10 June 1898.

  4. John Cowan says

    Just because the other variants were extinct doesn’t mean that the King could not have known them. Many are the savants that can discourse learnedly on Latin, Classical Greek, or Sanskrit, all extinct.

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