So I was surfing….
Everything changes at an accelerating rate in these contemporary times.
Faster, leaner, bigger, smaller, whatever… come rain, hail or shine.
I don’t remember my maternal grandmother. I was two when she died, and she came from a different time, before electricity, hot running water, telephones, televisions, plastic etc..
Everything was done manually…”by hand”, as it were.
Plough horses tilled the fields back then, thousands of them, all across Scotland. The literal backbone of an entire agricultural economy.
Once a year in Aberdeen there would be an auction day, to buy and sell these magnificent four legged creatures.
It was an important date in the calendar, when the farming community collected to do deals and exchange news/views etc..
But as modernity developed, the plough horse gradually became redundant, in exchange for the industrial combine harvester.
What had been a vibrant event, dwindled down eventually to just one horse..The last plough horse for auction in the city of Aberdeen.
The following feature makes me think of those horses..of those different times.
So much of value has gone before, and has been replaced by something unimaginably different. It’s hard to conceive.
I’m admittedly relieved that I wasn’t born of my great grandmother’s generation. The hardship is almost unimaginable to me..
But at the same time, I wonder what happens between the cracks of reality/time and change..so imperceptible that it flashes by without notice, and yet, once it’s gone…..it’s gone.
Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies
Death of Boa Sr, last person fluent in the Bo language of the Andaman Islands, breaks link with 65,000-year-old culture
By Jonathan Watts
The last speaker of an ancient tribal language has died in the Andaman Islands, breaking a 65,000-year link to one of the world’s oldest cultures.
Boa Sr, who lived through the 2004 tsunami, the Japanese occupation and diseases brought by British settlers, was the last native of the island chain who was fluent in Bo.
Taking its name from a now-extinct tribe, Bo is one of the 10 Great Andamanese languages, which are thought to date back to pre-Neolithic human settlement of south-east Asia.
Though the language has been closely studied by researchers of linguistic history, Boa Sr spent the last few years of her life unable to converse with anyone in her mother tongue.
Even members of inter-related tribes were unable to comprehend the repertoire of Bo songs and stories uttered by the woman in her 80s, who also spoke Hindi and another local language.
"Her loss is not just the loss of the Great Andamanese community, it is a loss of several disciplines of studies put together, including anthropology, linguistics, history, psychology, and biology," Narayan Choudhary, a linguist of Jawaharlal Nehru University who was part of an Andaman research team, wrote on his webpage. "To me, Boa Sr epitomised a totality of humanity in all its hues and with a richness that is not to be found anywhere else."
The Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, are governed by India. The indigenous population has steadily collapsed since the island chain was colonised by British settlers in 1858 and used for most of the following 100 years as a colonial penal colony.
Tribes on some islands retained their distinct culture by dwelling deep in the forests and rebuffing would-be colonisers, missionaries and documentary makers with volleys of arrows. But the last vestiges of remoteness ended with the construction of trunk roads from the 1970s.
According to the NGO Survival International, the number of Great Andamanese has declined in the past 150 years from about 5,000 to 52. Alcoholism is rife among the survivors.
"The Great Andamanese were first massacred, then all but wiped out by paternalistic policies which left them ravaged by epidemics of disease, and robbed of their land and independence," said Survival International’s director, Stephen Corry. "With the death of Boa Sr and the extinction of the Bo language, a unique part of human society is now just a memory. Boa’s loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman Islands."
Boa Sr appears to have been in good health until recently. During the Indian Ocean tsunami, she reportedly climbed a tree to escape the waves.
She told linguists afterwards that she had been forewarned. "We were all there when the earthquake came. The eldest told us the Earth would part, don’t run away or move."