The BBC carries a report on the death of the last speaker of what might have been one of the most ancient languages in the world. Boa Sr, who lived in the Andaman Islands (An Indian Union Territory), died last month at the age of about 85. Since the death of her parents over 30 years ago she was the last speaker of the Bo language.
Linguist Professor Anvita Abbi - who also runs the Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese (Voga) website – 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...It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representatives of those languages which go back to pre-Neolithic times," Professor Abbi said.
"The extinction of the Bo language means that a unique part of human society is now just a memory," Survival International Director Stephen Corry said.
Another Andaman language, Khora, became extinct in November. There are major concerns about the other indigenous groups on the Islands. The Great Andamanese, numbering about 50 are considered to be most at risk because they depend largely on the Indian government for food and shelter. Two other groups, the Jarawa and the Onge number in the low hundreds.
The final group who live on Sentinel Island have resisted all contact with the outside world. As a result virtually nothing is known about them.
Languages come and languages go – we can see the traces of several lost languages in the British Isles (Yola, Norn, Cumbric etc) – but I can’t help feel that when they die something significant is lost from the rich, dark soup that makes up humanity. Boa’s passing diminishes us all