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Languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands



Languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands vary from community to community. Since the Union Territory is an abode to all types of communities, all the major languages of India are spoken here. The major languages spoken at Andaman and Nicobar Islands are listed below :

  • Hindi
  • Tamil
  • Telugu
  • English
  • Punjabi
  • Kannada
  • Gujarati
  • Malayalam
  • Bengali
  • Marathi
  • Oriya
  • Karen
  • Burmese
Apart from the above, there are some tribal languages spoken around Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are :
  • Andamanese
  • Onge
  • Sentinelese
  • Nicobarese
  • Jarawa
Since the cluster of islands have people from various cultural backgrounds and communities, so different languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are used. But the majority of the population of Andaman and Nicobar Islands speak Hindi. English is also spoken a by a large number of people along with their regional languages.

The main reason behind such vast diversity in Andaman and Nicobar languages is that the group of islands have people who have migrated from different states and communities to serve the punishment of "Kaala Pani" during the British rule. Thats how the Union Territory has people using different languages in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Hindi

In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Hindi is one of the most popular indigenous languages. Almost 15 percent of the entire population of Andaman and Nicobar use Hindi as their mother tongue.

Hindi in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is often used as the official language of communication, specially in some remote places where the use of English is not very common. The present cosmopolitan nature of the area's population have also increased the importance of Hindi at Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The importance of Hindi in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is immense. Present Andaman and Nicobar has a population that is a unique mix of people who have come here from all over the country as well as some of the neighboring nations. Along with the many languages spoken by these groups, there are the indigenous languages of the tribes of the area. Altogether, Andaman has a truly multi-lingual and pluralistic society. Under such a situation, Hindi in Andaman and Nicobar often acts as a necessary connector between the various linguistic groups.

Hindi of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also the mother tongue of a large section of the population. This group includes descendants of the erstwhile political prisoners of the British times, as well as people who have moved into the Islands for business and professional reasons.

English

Positioned towards the south eastern part of the Bay of Bengal, these groups of islands are one of the Union Territories of India. With its capital located at the city of Port Blair in Andaman, this territory is spread over a total area of around 6, 496 sq. km. As per the report published after Census 2011, Andaman and Nicobar Islands has got a total population of 3, 79, 944. The territory is home to a huge population of different tribal communities.

Being a famous tribal area in the country, the language of English is not in much use in the islands. Especially the islands of Andamans are mostly inhabited by the Hindu communities. Let us have a quick look at the major languages of this Indian Union Territory:

Bengali language: 32.6 %
Hindi language: 25.95 %
Tamil language: Sri Lankan Tamil language (17.84 %) and Telugu and Nicobarese language (18.93 %)

Bengali

Bengali in Andaman and Nicobar islands is one of the most commonly spoken non-indigenous languages spoken in the state.

In Andaman and Nicobar, Bengali is one of the linguistic legacies carried on by the descendants of the freedom fighters deported to this remote island across the 'Black Waters'. Many political prisoners of the notorious Cellular jail also settled down in the island after their release, and their descendants also contributed to the formation of the non-indigenous populace of the Andaman and Nicobar islands. With the speakers of Bengali at Andaman and Nicobar islands being one of the major settling groups, it naturally emerged as one of the major languages spoken in the area.

Bengali of Andaman and Nicobar islands continue to be one of the major non-indigenous groups of Andaman. The Bengali community in Andaman is largely formed of descendants of the prisoners of the Cellular Jail, who settled down after their release in the islands. The Andaman and Nicobar Bengali community not only preserve the language but also preserve many of their specific cultural practices.

The influx of Bengali at Andaman and Nicobar islands did not necessarily stop with the Independence. Mainly two reasons were responsible for the continuing feeding of the island by Bengali groups, the first reason being clearly economic. Andaman and Nicobar having great harbor facilities in the vicinity of Kolkata, attracted the attention of many Bengali business people into the islands. Then there was widespread immigration from erstwhile East Pakistan and modern Bangladesh. They also joined the ranks of the Andaman and Nicobar Bengali communities, making it one of the biggest communities in the area.

Malayalam

Malayalam in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the many languages spoken by the inhabitants of the state. Almost 80 percent of the population of Andaman speak in sundry Indian languages other than Hindi.Malayalam at Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of them. Andaman and Nicobar is a vibrant and multi-lingual society. With the presence of the speakers of Malayalam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands has become all the more pluralistic in its linguistic profile. Inhabitants from every major region of India have gradually settled down in Andaman and Nicobar. Although the number of settlers from Kerala have not been large, yet there is a presence of the Malayalam speaking community to some extent in the Islands. The number has increased somewhat in the recent years following the enhancement of the area's tourism profile.

Malayalam in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is spoken by the inhabitants who have settled here from different parts of Kerala. Being on the other side of the Indian peninsula, Andaman and Nicobar does not have a very strong presence of people from Kerala. However, the speakers of Malayalam of Andaman and Nicobar Islandsinclude a section of the government personnels posted here in various capacities. There are also some Malayalam speaking groups who have come here for business purposes, specially in the coastal regions of the Union Territory.

Nicobarese

Nicobarese is one of the very well known languages used by the local tribes mainly in the Nicobar Islands. The language has its origin from the Austro-Asiatic language family and forms six Mon-Khmer dialects, among which Car language is in more use. All the Nicobarese languages spoken in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are listed below :
  • Car
  • Bompoka
  • Shom Peng
  • Chaura
  • Southern Nicobarese
  • Teressa
  • Central Nicobarese

Mainly Nicobarese at Andaman and Nicobar Islands is spoken by the local Nicobarese tribe residing there. They are also known as Holchu. Since the Nicobar Islands comprise of 19 islands, all the islands use different versions of the Nicobarese language. About Nicobarese, a very special feature that cannot be left unmentioned is that they respect women more then men and the ladies are held high in the society. The Nicobarese women are free to marry person of their choice and decide her stay at her in laws place or her parents place after marriage. Out of total 30000 Nicobarese speakers, around 22100 belong to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Rest of them belong to other places of India, Burma, China, Tibet, etc.

Car Nicobar is one of the prominent among all the Nicobarese languages. This Nicobarese language at Andaman and Nicobar Islands is mainly used for administrative purposes in the Nicobar Islands.

Punjabi

Punjabi in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is spoken by the members of the Sikh community in the islands. The Sikhs add to the multi-racial population of Andaman and Nicobar. Andaman and Nicobar Islands is characterized by the multiple ethnicity of the area. They leave in perfect mutual harmony.

Understandably, many languages are simultaneously spoken in Andaman and Nicobar. They include the indigenous languages of the various tribes as well as the major languages of the Indian mainland. Punjabi at Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of those languages which form the group of non-indigenous languages of the area.

Of all the people who have settled in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the years following the Indian independence, the Punjabi is a prominent one. They hail from the North Indian state of Punjab and stay at Andaman and Nicobar in various official and professional capacities. The number of Punjabi businessmen in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also considerable. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Punjabi community members still continue with their rituals and cultures that they carried along from their native state. Along with various other languages,Punjabi of Andaman and Nicobar Islands shares a very significant place.

Tamil

Tamil in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is the most popularly spoken language after English, Hindi and Bengali. Because of the geographical vicinity of the island from Tamil Nadu, the area has always experienced a prominent Tamil settlement. In fact, the Tamil at Andaman and Nicobar Islands were one of the earliest settlers from outside the tribal groups of the region. The presence of Tamil language and culture has steadily grown in the Islands from there on.

The Tamils were one of the earliest people besides the indigenous people to have inhabited Andaman and Nicobar. The descendants of these early settlers continue to exercise their linguistic and cultural roots. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil newspapers and magazines are also found in abundance.Tamil in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is widely taught in the schools, making it one of the most important part of the multi-lingual and heterogeneous community of the area.

The Tamil of Andaman and Nicobar Islands have settled down in various capacities. As laborers, businessmen, professionals and public servants. There are also a large number of tourists who visit Tamil Nadu on a regular basis to enjoy the glorious natural delights of the islands.

Telugu

Telugu in Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the most commonly spoken non-indigenous languages spoken in this picturesque island area in the Bay of Bengal. Telugu is the language of the inhabitants of Andhra Pradesh who have migrated to this area for various reasons, ranging from professional to business. Some of the members of the community speaking Telugu at Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been settlers in the region for many long years.

Andhra Pradesh is close to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Understandably, more people moved in Andaman and Nicobar from Andhra Pradesh than most other places in India. In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Telugu has consequently emerged as one of the most commonly spoken language. The speakers of Telugu of Andaman and Nicobar Islands not only maintain their language but also their various cultural activities in the peaceful and multi-ethnic society that characterizes the island.

Andaman and Nicobar sees many tourists in the area from Andhra Pradesh every year. The presence of Telugu language and culture in Andaman and Nicobar Islands add to their convenience.

Last Updated on: 2nd April 2013