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The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:43 am
by Moderator
Several very primitive societies such as the Sentinelese and the Jarawa still populate the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean and continue to this day to live in a "Stone Age existence."

"It is not certain whether, outside the Andaman Islands, there still exists any community that has had as little contact with civilization as the Sentinelese. Pandit and his colleagues say there is none. Several American anthropologists I have spoken to agree with them" (Goodheart).

They have thus far aggressively resisted all attempts at contact by modern people and explorers (killing several people with arrows). The tsunami in 2004 once again focused attention on them.

Could these be the last semi-bicameral societies?

I use the term loosely as similar pre-modern tribes discussed by Lévy-Bruhl seem to have developed consciousness, or at least certain aspects of it, but still relied to a great degree on auditory hallucination.

Perhaps we will never know, as no one understands the culture or language of the Sentinelese or the Jarawa.

For more see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentinelese

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarawa_%28 ... Islands%29

The Last Island of the Savages by Adam Goodheart

George Weber's "Lonely Islands"

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 3:50 am
by Swamy
I got this from a forum and thought it may be relevant to what's discussed here.

Swamy

‘Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese, is an unique project being
led by Dr. Anvita Abbi, Professor of Linguistics at the Jawaharlal Nehru
University to study the language of this threatened community. It has
been suggested that the Andamanese languages might be the last
representative of South East Asia's ancient pre-Neolithic languages.

Dr. Abbi’s project has created considerably new understanding of the
Great Andamanese community – giving us a descriptive grammar of the
language, a socio-linguistic description, an archive of their folklore,
oral texts and video recordings and also a trilingual dictionary. “The
biggest breakthrough,” says Dr. Abbi, “is that we been able to identify
the Great Andamanse as the Sixth language family of India while Onge and
Jarawa (the other two indigenous communities of the Andamans) constitute
a different family altogether. No other Indian language has even a
slight resemblance to the verb structures of the Great Andamanese langauge."

Another aspect of the language that fascinates Dr. Abbi is its
terminology of the body. “The body,” she explains, “is divided into four
basic zones. These are (1) the mouth and its semantic extension (2) the
major external body parts (3) the extreme ends of the body like toe and
fingernails etc and (4) the bodily products. A detailed study of the
possessive constructions in Great Andamanese shows that ethnoanatomy and
kinship share the same level of categorization and there is a parallel
between certain body parts and kin relations.”

In the language therefore there is a parallel between major body parts
of an individual and his/her spouse. Similarly parents and younger
siblings are compared to one’s mouth cavity whereas a child and sweat
are both considered products from the body.

Time is categorized as the honey calendar which is itself based on the
name of the blooming flowers at that particular time. Honey,
significantly occupies a special place in the pattern of subsistence and
movement of the Great Andamanese and also the other communities like the
Onge of Little Andaman Island.

An excellent benchmark of the status of a people is the status of their
language; the converse is just as true and we get an excellent
illustration of this when we look at the Great Andamanese people. “Only
four of the original Great Andamanese languages are spoken today,” says
Dr. Abbi and “there are only a handful of these people who can speak
their ancestoral language today.” The number was eight a few months ago
and is now down to six with the passing away of two of them. The
language and the people are both on the brink.

You can hear sound recordings of more than 40 songs of the Great
Andamanese online at http://www.andamanese.net/songs/htm

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:47 pm
by Moderator
This is quite interesting, thank you. I will look up Dr. Abbi's research. This is really one of the last chances we'll have to study a group that is perhaps still much earlier in the transition process.

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:34 pm
by rheiman
Swamy, your song link does not seem to work. Have you got a working link?

Thanks!

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:49 am
by WS1
rheiman wrote:Swamy, your song link does not seem to work. Have you got a working link?

Thanks!
The URL address was just off, a forward slash instead of a dot. I went to the site and fetched the correct link:

URL: Songs of the Great Andamanese

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 12:54 pm
by rheiman
Winston Smith wrote:
rheiman wrote:Swamy, your song link does not seem to work. Have you got a working link?

Thanks!
The URL address was just off, a forward slash instead of a dot. I went to the site and fetched the correct link:

URL: Songs of the Great Andamanese
Thanks!

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:20 am
by Swamy
Im sorry Reihman, was away and thanks Winston for sorting out the link.

Swamy

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:34 pm
by clivedurdle
Isn't there a tribe in the amazon with no concept of future and past?

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:03 pm
by rheiman
clivedurdle wrote:Isn't there a tribe in the amazon with no concept of future and past?
I think you mean Detroit - but there might be a tribe like that in the Amazon too. :lol:

But seriously, how would it be possible to test such a thing? It seems to me that the testing alone would alter their perceptions - much like subatomic particles in quantum physics. Observation is enough to skew the results. If there are bicameral people in our day and age, this state of mind would be a fragile affair indeed. As has been said about the Amazon natives, "light a match in front of him and you've ruined his world view" or something to that effect.

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:26 am
by clivedurdle
Rather, it bring up the fact that the Pirahãs lack temporal organization - and pretty much live in the present (according to Everett, they also have "no numbers, no fixed color terms, no perfect tense, no deep memory, no tradition of art or drawing, and no words for “all,” “each,” “every,” “most,” or “few”—terms of quantification believed by some linguists to be among the common building blocks of human cognition"):
http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com ... tribe.html

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 5:20 am
by rheiman
clivedurdle wrote:
Rather, it bring up the fact that the Pirahãs lack temporal organization - and pretty much live in the present (according to Everett, they also have "no numbers, no fixed color terms, no perfect tense, no deep memory, no tradition of art or drawing, and no words for “all,” “each,” “every,” “most,” or “few”—terms of quantification believed by some linguists to be among the common building blocks of human cognition"):
http://sciencereligionnews.blogspot.com ... tribe.html
The tribesman is sitting in a boat. Is it his boat? If so, how did he acquire it and why? He's wearing shorts. How and why did he acquire those? The article states that some in the tribe were conspiring to kill the missionary. I don't understand how a conspiracy is possible without an understanding of "future", nor do I understand the motivation for such a conspiracy without an understanding of "past".

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:24 am
by Swamy
Folks,

The last member of the Bo tribe (Great Andamanese) died wiping out the language and an entire tribe from the face of the earth. In this news clip, there's mention of her hearing (voices?) 'the eldest of us' during the Asian tsunami of 2004 which she survived. Dr. Abbi had close contacts with her and can be contacted for more details.

http://telegraphindia.com/1100205/jsp/f ... 069860.jsp#

Swamy

Re: The Sentinelese: The Last Semi-Bicameral Society?

Posted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:42 pm
by Moderator
That's interesting. It's not entirely clear if the elders were alive or dead (voices).