For the Birds

Satish Pande and Anvita Abbi have, over the years, been carrying out a detailed study together, each in their own area of interest and expertise - Ornithology and Linguistics- in the Andamans.

They combine these skills in their very special new book that has been published by Oxford, the Bombay Natural History Society, and Pune's Ela Foundation, Birds of the Great Andamanese: Names, Classification and Culture.

Call it an Ethnolinguistic perspective, Ethno-orinthology, what you will... The book is unique, and it gives the names of the birds of the islands in the nearly extinct Great Andamenese Language. As Pande and Abbi say in a recent paper, Present Great Andamanese (PGA) is a moribund language and is on the verge of extinction. The current study is an outcome of the first- hand collected data in the interdisciplinary research in Linguistics and Ornithology. We present all the 14 avian Orders, 35 Families and 100 Species recognized by the Great Andamanese people including the current conservation status, threats and distribution of avianspecies, endemic to the region. Indigenous names in PGA language were analyzed linguistically and discernible categories were classified empirically. Since the identifiable categories include avian names with single, double and triple attributes the semiotic analysis of the names of birds exposes the world view of the Great Andamanese people. What emerges is a typology of attributes where each attribute signifies a distinct avian related morphological, ornithological and semiotic behaviour. The present study, which is first of its kind, is of immense historical nature and can be used in future to establish any relationship with other languages and tribes of the Andaman Islands.

In paperback, Rs 950. ISBN: 9780198072621

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