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Book Launch: Voices from the Lost Horizon

Endangered Languages Archive, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften | Anvita Abbi

Anvita Abbi presents her latest book "Voices from the Lost Horizon: Stories and Songs of the Great Andamanese" together with Mandana Seyfeddinipur, director of the Endangered Languages Archive.

Anvita Abbi’s latest book Voices from the Lost Horizon: Stories and Songs of the Great Andamanese will be available in Europe from November 2021. To mark the occasion the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) will host a virtual book launch. ELAR director Mandana Seyfeddinipur and Anvita Abbi will present the book and discuss the research it is based on. The materials recorded by Anvita Abbi are available in the ELAR collection Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese. Anvita Abbi’s extensive language documentation project was funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP).

The Andaman Islands—Great Andaman, Little Andaman, and North Sentinel Islands have been home for milleniums to four tribes: the Great Andamanese, Onge, Jarawa, and Sentinelese. Their languages are known by the same name as that of the tribes. ‘Great Andamanese’ is a generic term representing ten languages among a family of languages that were once spoken by ten different tribes living in the north, south, and middle of the Great Andaman Islands. These languages were mutually intelligible like a link in a chain.

However, today, Great Andamanese is a moribund language of the only-surviving pre-Neolithic tribe, breathing its last breath. When a language is on the verge of extinction, its history, culture, ecological base, knowledge of the biodiversity, ethno-linguistic practices, and the identity of its community—everything is endangered. This is what prompted Prof. Anvita Abbi to conduct a research study to give life to the lost oral heritage of the vanishing world of the Great Andamanese.

Voices from the Lost Horizon is a collection of a number of folk tales and songs of the Great Andamanese. These stories and songs represent the first-ever collection rendered to the Prof. Abbi and her team by the Great Andamanese people in local settings. The compilation comes with audio and video recordings of the stories and songs to retain the originality and orality of the narratives.

PUBLIC BOOK LAUNCH ON ZOOM.

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Anvita Abbi is a distinguished researcher on minority languages and perhaps the only one in the Indian subcontinent who has done first-hand field study on all the six language families from the Himalayas to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Leverhulme Professor at the University of London in 2011, Prof. Abbi taught linguistics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University for 38 years and was awarded the Guest Scientist position at the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

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