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Sanenyo Documentation

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Chowra Island (also written as Chaura) (N8˚ 27’ 8” latitude E93˚ 02’ 42” longitude) is located to the south of Battimalv Island and to the north of Teressa Island.

Chowra is the most densely populated one among the Nicobarese Islands. According to 2011 census, the total population of the Chowra Island is around 1,300 (Directorate of Census Operations, 2011). There are five villages on the island, namely; Raiheon, Kuitasuk, Chongamong, Alheat, and Ta-eela.

Sanenyo (ISO 639-3; crv) is the native tongue of the people of Chowra. It is classified under the Austroasiatic language family as part of the Nicobarese subgroup which in itself is a part of the Nico-Monic subgroup (Austro-Asiatic -> Nico-Monic -> Nicobarese -> Sanenyo) (Diffloth, 2005). According to the UNESCO language vitality scale Sanenyo is considered severely endangered while according to the Ethnologue it is vulnerable 6a. The Inter-generation transfer was witnessed in Sanenyo, however speedy contact with the outside world and small population base renders it on the list of endangered languages of India.

Due to lack of resources in Chowra Island, the Chowra people started sailing to the other neighboring Islands like Car Nicobar in the north and other Islands of the Central Nicobar in search of resources. These voyages led them to new and different places, cultures, and languages. Despite traveling beyond their homes Chowra people maintained their own language and culture, although they learned other languages, especially ‘moot’ (the language of Kamorta), Luro (the language of the neighboring Island Teressa) and also Pu (the language of Car-Nicobar and also the language used writing the Bible). The Chowras are in general, multilingual with strong affiliation to their heritage language Sanenyo.

Chowra people are very diligent. They are masters in gardening, making canoes and sailing, building a round house (traditional hut), pottery, cultivating coconut and animal husbandry (piggery). Their social structure is very strong and they are culturally rich people. Chowrites are very hardworking people due to which they have become experts in surviving with limited resources.
Transcribed word ɑp̚
Gloss Outrigger canoe
Regional script (Nicobarese) ap
  Toe Ring
Transcribed word fɔm
Gloss Necklace made of a banana leaf.
Regional script (Nicobarese) fòm
  Toe Ring
Transcribed word uruwə
Gloss Type of a nest for hen
Regional script (Nicobarese) uruvö
  Toe Ring
Transcribed word huə
Gloss Used for fishing. Powder of the bark is strewn on the water so that fishes faint and float up. Bark Powder is used for treating sprain or dislocation of a joint the milky sap is used for treating snake-bite.
Regional script (Nicobarese) huö
  Toe Ring
Transcribed word t̪əhəp̚
Gloss A hill in Chowra
Regional script (Nicobarese) töhöp
  Toe Ring
Transcribed word ɔm
Gloss A domestic animal. The dogs found in the Chowra Island are usually small in size and very friendly.
Regional script (Nicobarese) öm
  Toe Ring
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