The Kora (Cora) language, Aka-Kora, is an extinct Great Andamanese language, of the Northern group. It was spoken on the northeast and north central coasts of North Andaman and on Smith Island.

It has been extinct after November 2009 when its last speaker, Boro, died.[2]

Name

The native name for the language was Aka-Kora, additionally spelled Aka-Khora or Aka-Cora (Aka- being a prefix for "tongue"); and this name is most often used for the tribe itself. They were divided between shore-dwellers (aryoto) and forest-dwellers (eremtaga) subtribes.[5]

History

By the time of the first permanent British settlement at Port Blair (1858), the estimates size of the Kora tribe was about 500 individuals, out of perhaps 3500 Great Andamanese.[6] However the tribe was discovered only much later, in the work leading to the 1901 census.[6] Like additional Andamanese peoples, the Kora were decimated throughout colonial and post-colonial times, by diseases, alcohol, colonial warfare and loss of territory. The census of 1901 recorded 96 individuals, which decreased to 71 in 1911, 48 in 1921, and 24 in 1931.[6]

In 1949, any remaining Kora were relocated, with all additional surviving Great Andamanese, to a reservation on Bluff island.[7] In 1969 they were relocated again to a reservation on Strait Island.[7]

By 1980 only one person claimed to be a Kora member,[5] and 1994 the Kora tribe no longer existed as a separate unit.[8] Although descendants of the Kora were still living in the Great Andamanese reservation of Strait Island as of 2006, they identified themselves as members of additional tribes, mainly Jeru.[10] The last known speaker of the Kora language passed away in November 2009.[10] They were a designated Scheduled Tribe.[11]

Grammar

The Great Andamanese languages are agglutinative languages, with an extensive prefix and suffix system. Possibly their most distinctive characteristic is a noun class system based largely on body parts, in which every noun and adjective might take a prefix according to which body part it is associated with (on the basis of shape, or functional association). Thus, for instance, the *aka- at the beginning of the language names is a prefix for objects related to the tongue. An adjectival example can be given by the various forms of yop, "pliable, soft", in Aka-Bea:

  • A cushion or sponge is ot-yop "round-soft", from the prefix attached to words relating to the head or heart.
  • A cane is ôto-yop, "pliable", from a prefix for long things.
  • A stick or pencil is aka-yop, "pointed", from the tongue prefix.
  • A fallen tree is ar-yop, "rotten", from the prefix for limbs or upright things.

Similarly, beri-nga "good" yields:

  • un-bēri-ŋa "clever" (hand-good).
  • ig-bēri-ŋa "sharp-sighted" (eye-good).
  • aka-bēri-ŋa "good at languages" (tongue-good.)
  • ot-bēri-ŋa "virtuous" (head/heart-good)

The prefixes are,

BeaBalawa?Bajigyâs?JuwoiKol
head/heartot-ôt-ote-ôto-ôto-
hand/footong-ong-ong-ôn-ôn-
mouth/tongueâkà-aka-o-ókô-o-
torso (shoulder to shins)ab-ab-ab-a-o-
eye/face/arm/breasti-, ig-id-ir-re-er-
back/leg/buttar-ar-ar-ra-a-
waistôto-

Body parts are inalienably possessed, requiring a possessive adjective prefix to complete them, so one can't say "head" alone, but only "my, or his, or your, etc. head".

The basic pronouns are almost identical throughout the Great Andamanese languages; Aka-Bea will serve as a representative example (pronouns given in their basic prefixal forms):

I, myd-we, ourm-
thou, thyŋ-you, yourŋ-
he, his, she, her, it, itsathey, theirl-

'This' and 'that' are distinguished as k- and t-.

Judging from the available sources, the Andamanese languages have only two cardinal numbersone and two — and their entire numerical lexicon is one, two, one more, a few more, and all.