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Thread: New Developments in Austroasiatic Linguistics and Munda

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    New Developments in Austroasiatic Linguistics and Munda

    Hey All,

    I just wanted to talk with you all about some new developments in Austroasiatic linguistics, mostly spearheaded by Paul Sidwell.

    Recently, since around 2018 onwards, Paul has been converging onto a theory where

    1) The expansion of the Austroasiatic family is a lot younger than older glottochronological/computational phylolinguistics work made it out to be. Either the family itself is only ~4000 y old and spread with the SE Asian Neolithic with rice, millet, chicken and dog, or the family is older, but the branches only began to spread out and separate from each other ~4000 BP, once again because of adoption of the Neolithic package.

    2) Austroasiatic is associated with riverine and estuarine subsistence, and the package of neolithic crops led them to move around the coast and spread inland up valleys from starting points around deltas and river mouths.

    3) The Munda people were the result of a sea crossing from SEAsia to a spot on the Brahmani river mouth in Orissa, spreading inland. This was associated with the Eastern Wetland tradition in archaeology in Orissa.

    4) Munda is not the outgroup in the family, it is a normal branch that underwent extensive typological restructuring due to being in a very different linguistic environment.

    The points are summarised in a talk he gave at SEALS 2021:


    The older glottochronological stuff (dating AuAs to 7000BP or even older) is super outdated, and newer wordlists that purge loanwords produce a rake-like branching: https://www.eva.mpg.de/fileadmin/con...ell_slides.pdf Notice that the confidence for the internal nodes is super low, which testifies to that. The paper is: Sidwell, Paul. 2015a. "Austroasiatic classification." In Jenny, Mathias and Paul Sidwell, eds (2015). The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages. Leiden: Brill.

    Sidwell seems to believe that the distribution of some older words, e.g. rice and grain words and numerals, suggest that the branches of the language family had formed but were quite close together (letting some innovative words spread such that they are shared by some but not all branches of Austroasiatic) until agriculture arrived into the area, whereupon all branches began to expand rapidly:

    Paul Sidwell
    Phylogeny, innovations, and correlations in the prehistory of Austroasiatic
    Phylogenetic analysis of the Austroasiatic (AA) Language phylum suggests a complex regional
    prehistory punctuated by phases of rapid expansion and diversification in and out of IndoChina/Lower Mekong Basin. Of particular note:
    • 13 branches become clearly distinguished between 5000 and 4000BP;
    • From around 2500 years BP groups in Indo-China, Malay peninsula, and the western
    periphery, diversify rapidly;
    • Northern groups share lexical innovations, while the periphery retains more archaic elements
    such as the rice related vocabulary.
    Archaeology currently dates the arrival of rice (and brass) in the region at about 4200BP, which
    currently presents problems of interpretation for linguistics. Was there a deeper and more complex
    history for agriculture in MSEAsia, such as a relation between rice and tuber cultivation (Sidwell and
    Blench 2011); are we wrong about the phylogenetic structure of AA (e.g. the place/age of Munda)?
    The significance of metals also invites discussion; does the Iron Age in SEAsian correlate with
    the increasing contact between AA, Austronesian, Tai or Tibeto-Burman speakers in the 1st
    Millennium BC?
    It is clear that a combination of improved linguistic data and computational methods, in the
    context of an integrated multidisciplinary approach, hold the best prospects for advancing our
    understanding of these complex cultural transitions.
    From: https://www.shh.mpg.de/55132/Titles_..._June_2015.pdf, the talk titled "Phylogeny, innovations, and correlations in the prehistory of Austroasiatic"

    He further elaborates in this talk:
    https://www.academia.edu/36660216/Au...ltural_lexicon

    Roger Blench came in with reconstructions of aquatic fauna and boats:
    https://www.semanticscholar.org/pape...c55e13cb5ac6b9

    Note that Sidwell and Blench were still looking for something along the lower Mekong, but then when the last Sidwell paper I mentioned was published, Sidwell started looking for something along Northern Indochina, probably because of the Isoglosses he found, and also the fact that Southeast Asian Neolithic started somewhere from the North.

    It seems like Sidwell told Blench about his Munda-across-the-sea idea, and Blench got something out:
    http://www.rogerblench.info/Language...sis%202019.pdf

    This year, Sidwell capped it all off with a talk at SEALS 2021 that is very good! As aforementioned:


    He also published this paper:
    https://evols.library.manoa.hawaii.e...019_2Munda.pdf

    I can see some archaeological references in that paper; it would be incredible to sample carriers of the Eastern Wetland tradition to see how they are like genetically.
    Last edited by Ryukendo; 06-30-2021 at 12:21 AM.
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    This theory is excellent in that it matches the Austroasiatic homeland and spread to the spread of Vietnam_N or First Southeast Asian farmer ancestry. The question remains of where exactly this type of ancestry formed: Given what we've seen for ancient DNA in Guangxi, there seems to be an extinct branch of East Asian ancestry that admixed with generic Southeast Asian ancestry, then was replaced by Tai and Hmong-type ancestries quite early. No sign of Vietnam N ancestry. Its really a big mystery where Vietnam_N ancestry came from.

    Here Huang et. al. states:

    The impact of distinct Southern East Asian ancestries is not limited within Southern
    China and further south. In the earliest samples from Yellow River Basin, coastal
    individuals from Early Neolithic Shandong derive all of the southern ancestry from a
    Fujian_LN related lineage (32.0 6.6%, Fig. 3, consistent with their
    Austronesian-related ancestral component in ADMIXTURE (Fig. 1C) that largely
    disappears in later Northern East Asians. In contrast, inland individuals from Middle
    Neolithic Yangshao Culture derive all of the southern ancestry from a Mekong_N
    related lineage (32.2 5.9%, Fig. 3. These genomes document that the initial
    isolation and genomic differentiation among geographically structured populations in
    Southern China is no late than Early Neolithic and demographic contact between
    Northern and Southern China in this period is via distinct coastal and inland routes
    (Fig. 5A).

    ...

    Hmong-Mien-related ancestry maximizes in
    the Western Hmong populations (Miao_Longlin and Miao_Xilin) newly reported in
    this study and is absent in all the ancient individuals, indicating that the original
    homeland of this ancestry has not yet been sampled in ancient genomic studies to date.

    ...

    Sub-topology within the Southern East Asian lineage suggests that Austronesian
    ancestry split with the others first, then followed by Kra-Dai ancestry, with
    Hmong-Mien and Austroasiatic ancestries sharing the most genetic drift with each
    other.

    ...

    On the contrary, Core Hmong-Mien derives more of their ancestry related
    to Mekong_N (32.3%–35.3%) than Fujian_LN (23.7%–26.4%), consistent with the
    closest phylogenetic relationship of Austroasiatic and Hmong-Mien ancestries in
    admixture graph (Fig. 3A).
    ...

    With nearly absolute southern affinity to Austroasiatic-related lineage (Fig. 3, the
    genetic profile of Yangshao individuals largely persists in Late Neolithic individuals
    from Qijia Culture (16.0 8.3% for Mekong_N, 1.3 10.6% for Fujian_LN) –whose
    expansion is supposed to parallel with the diffusion of at least some of the
    Tibeto-Burman languages30–and modern Tibeto-Burman speakers in Tibetan Plateau
    (18.9–24.2% for Mekong_N, 0.0% for Fujian_LN) and Tibetan-Yi Corridor like Naxi
    and Yi (33.7–34.1% for Mekong_N, 0.0–1.3% for Fujian_LN). In admixture-f3
    (Extended Data Table 3A), Tibeto-Burman populations in Tibetan-Yi Corridor and
    further south show a consistent pattern of two-way admixture by Sino-Tibetan and
    Austroasiatic ancestries. Multiple evidences suggest that populations with
    Austroasiatic ancestry likely distributed further north in Southwest China previously.
    Given the close relationship between Austroasiatic and Hmong-Mien ancestries, it is
    reasonable to deduct that the place of origin for both ancestries is in Southwest China
    (Fig. 5A) and both of them are possibly related to the Neolithic farming cultures in
    Middle Yangtze, e.g., Daxi Culture3
    , which is also consistent with that modern
    populations with significant Hmong-Mien-related ancestry (Fig. 1C) are distributed in
    Guangxi, Guizhou, and Hunan of Southwest China.
    Further inland? Middle Yangtze? But then how could this ancestry get to N Vietnam without going through Guangxi? Probably a circuituous route through inland China, south through Yunnan and then to the Red River Valley?

    If you look at how much Han populations score "Austroasiatic" in ADMIXTURE in that Biorxiv paper, the highest are in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi, which implies a SW China origin. Best to sample there.
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    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1....424294v1.full, as per the latest research from the Thai genomics project, it is clearly established that the autosomal DNA of Central and Southern Thai are more dominantly Monic Austroasiatic. It is now clear that there was cultural diffusion of Tai culture in Central and Southern Thailand as opposed to demic diffusion in Northern Thailand and admixture in NE Thailand. Please refer to the graphic/chart on the last page which shows that the Chinese Dai ancestry component of Central and Southern Thai is related to their Monic Austroasiatic ancestry

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    From Fig1C of Huang et.al. (2020) "Genomic Insights into the Demographic History of Southern Chinese", Vietnam_N has been mixed with Austronesian (blue), I think this is normal, because Vietnam is a long and narrow coastal area, but Guangxi is an inland area, which is difficult to contact with Austronesians. This may be the reason for the difference between Vietnam_N and Guangxi autosomally. I still think that proto-Austroasians must pass through Guangxi to enter Southeast Asia.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Howard23 View Post
    From Fig1C of Huang et.al. (2020) "Genomic Insights into the Demographic History of Southern Chinese", Vietnam_N has been mixed with Austronesian (blue), I think this is normal, because Vietnam is a long and narrow coastal area, but Guangxi is an inland area, which is difficult to contact with Austronesians. This may be the reason for the difference between Vietnam_N and Guangxi autosomally. I still think that proto-Austroasians must pass through Guangxi to enter Southeast Asia.

    I need to add a few words. I just noticed that the Guangxi paper said, "Historical Guangxi populations dating to ∼1,500 to 500 years ago are closely related to Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien speakers". But there is another time window not mentioned in the paper, that is, Guangxi changed again from 4000 to 2000BP. About 2300 years ago, the state of Qin in Northwest China destroyed the state of Shu in Sichuan Basin. According to ancient literature, the prince of Shu led his subordinates to Guangxi and northern Vietnam. Correspondingly, O2 > cts1642 > y7080 of Tibeto Burmese branch began to expand in Lingnan. After that, another 500k Qin soldiers went south to unify Lingnan. These events may have changed Guangxi people autosomally.

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    A question, does this model imply that Tibeto-Burman expanded in Myanmar after it was settled by Austro-Asiatic speakers, right? What would be a working chronology for that event? Also when would Austronesians have expanded over the Austro-Asiatic speakers, beacause the timeline seems pretty tight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granary View Post
    A question, does this model imply that Tibeto-Burman expanded in Myanmar after it was settled by Austro-Asiatic speakers, right? What would be a working chronology for that event? Also when would Austronesians have expanded over the Austro-Asiatic speakers, beacause the timeline seems pretty tight.
    In the case of Burma, the proto-Pyu-city states folks entered the Irrawaddy valley around 200 BC and established a heavily Indianized Tibeto-Burman urban culture. However, the precursors of modern Burmese language and Bamar ethnicity were carried by the Nanzhao kingdom (and its successor the Pagan kingdom) that invaded the region and created a hybrid Pyu-Burman culture that transformed into contemporary Burmese culture, with the Pyu languages dying out by the 13th century. However, fringe non-Burman Tibeto-Burmese speakers likely existed around the borderlands (outside of traditional Burma, i.e. the Irrawaddy valley) prior to the Pyu or Bamars as they did in NE India.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kulin View Post
    In the case of Burma, the proto-Pyu-city states folks entered the Irrawaddy valley around 200 BC and established a heavily Indianized Tibeto-Burman urban culture. However, the precursors of modern Burmese language and Bamar ethnicity were carried by the Nanzhao kingdom (and its successor the Pagan kingdom) that invaded the region and created a hybrid Pyu-Burman culture that transformed into contemporary Burmese culture, with the Pyu languages dying out by the 13th century. However, fringe non-Burman Tibeto-Burmese speakers likely existed around the borderlands (outside of traditional Burma, i.e. the Irrawaddy valley) prior to the Pyu or Bamars as they did in NE India.
    How early did those pre-Pyu Tibeto-Burmese speakers arrive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Granary View Post
    A question, does this model imply that Tibeto-Burman expanded in Myanmar after it was settled by Austro-Asiatic speakers, right? What would be a working chronology for that event? Also when would Austronesians have expanded over the Austro-Asiatic speakers, beacause the timeline seems pretty tight.
    Not just Myanmar but also NE India as the predominant civilization in the entire area is linked to Hoabinhian which is Austroasiatic

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    Quote Originally Posted by jortita View Post
    Not just Myanmar but also NE India as the predominant civilization in the entire area is linked to Hoabinhian which is Austroasiatic
    But according to the video here the Austro-Asiatic expansion started around 2000 BCE, not that early.

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