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Sentinelese is a name provisionally given to the linguistically undescribed language of the Sentinelese of North Sentinel Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Due to the lack of contact between the Sentinelese people and the rest of the world, little is known of their language, its vitality, etc.[4] The Sentinelese people do not allow outsiders onto the island and are generally hostile towards visitors.[5] Friendly interactions have been rare.[6]

Native toIndia
RegionNorth Sentinel Island, in the southwest of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
EthnicityPerhaps 100–250 Sentinelese people (2007)[1][2]
Native speakers
Presumably the same (100–250) 
Unclassified (presumed to be Ongan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3std
Schematic Map of Andamanese Languages & Tribes.png
Sentinelese, the little grey island to the southwest, shown in the context of the other Andamanese languages.
Sentinelese is located in Bay of Bengal
Location in the Bay of Bengal
Coordinates: 11°33′N 92°15′E / 11.55°N 92.25°E / 11.55; 92.25


It is presumed that the islanders speak a single language and that it is a member of one of the Andamanese language families.[4] Based on what little is known about similarities in culture and technology and their geographical proximity, it is supposed that their language is related to the Ongan languages, such as Jarawa, rather than to Great Andamanese.[7] On the documented occasions when Onge-speaking individuals were taken to North Sentinel Island in order to attempt communication, they were unable to recognise any of the language spoken by the inhabitants.[8] It has been recorded that the Jarawa and Sentinelese languages are mutually unintelligible.[9]


Sentinelese is classified as endangered due to the small number of speakers, matching the unknown population of the island, which has been estimated at anywhere from 100 to 250;[1][2] a rough estimate by the Government of India is 100.[10]


  1. ^ a b Brenzinger, Matthias (2007) Language diversity endangered. Walter de Gruyter. p. 40. ISBN 3-11-017049-3.
  2. ^ a b Moseley, Christopher (2007) Encyclopedia of the world's endangered languages. Routledge. pp. 289, 342. ISBN 978-0-7007-1197-0.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sentinel". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ a b "The most isolated tribe in the world?" found at Survival International website. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  5. ^ Van Driem, G. (2007). Endangered Languages of South Asia. In Handbook of Endangered Languages (pp. 303–341). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  6. ^ When the Sentinelese shun bows and arrows to welcome outsiders, Economic Times, Dec 2018.
  7. ^ Ethnologue report for Sentinel. Accessed 2009-10-07.
  8. ^ Pandya, Vishvajit (2008) In the Forest: Visual and Material Worlds of Andamanese History (1858–2006). University Press of America. p. 362. ISBN 0-7618-4153-9.
  9. ^ Enumeration of Primitive Tribes in A&N Islands: A Challenge (PDF) (Report). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2014. The first batch could identify 31 Sentinelese. The second batch could count altogether 39 Sentinelese consisting of male and female adults, children and infants. During both the contacts the enumeration team tried to communicate with them through some Jarawa words and gestures, but, Sentinelese could not understand those verbal words.
  10. ^ Abbi, Anvita (2006) Endangered Languages of the Andaman Islands. LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics. Vol. 64. München: Lincom