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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Last speaker of ancient language of Bo dies in India

By Alastair Lawson 
BBC News
For complete article and to hear Boa Srs voice, click here
Boa Sr
Boa Sr remained the last Bo speaker for at least 30 years
The last speaker of an ancient language in India's Andaman Islands has died at the age of about 85, a leading linguist has told the BBC.
The death of the woman, Boa Senior, was highly significant because one of the world's oldest languages, Bo, had come to an end, Professor Anvita Abbi said.
She said that India had lost an irreplaceable part of its heritage.
Languages in the Andamans are thought to originate from Africa. Some may be up to 70,000 years old.
The islands are often called an "anthropologist's dream" and are one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world.
Professor Abbi - who runs the Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (Voga) website - explained: "After the death of her parents, Boa was the last Bo speaker for 30 to 40 years.
"She was often very lonely and had to learn an Andamanese version of Hindi in order to communicate with people.
"But throughout her life she had a very good sense of humour and her smile and full-throated laughter were infectious."
She said that Boa Sr's death was a loss for intellectuals wanting to study more about the origins of ancient languages, because they had lost "a vital piece of the jigsaw".

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