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Reposts of Ryukendo's Southeast Asia linguistics commentary
(01-26-2024, 08:31 PM)okarinaofsteiner Wrote: https://genoplot.com/discussions/post/187466

Ryukendo Wrote:The closer we get to Old Chinese, the closer Chinese looks like a regular Sino-Tibetan language with complex consonant clusters and productive morphology, and the less it looks like present-day Chinese languages.

I have mentioned here why it is extremely unlikely that Chinese became so unlike other ST languages by contact with Austroasiatic languages. Chinese, Vietnamese, Tai-Kradai and Hmong-Mien basically all gained tone around the same time, from the same processes and in the same way. Literally the same collapse in consonant contrasts caused the same three-way tone distinction to appear in all four language groups. This was combined with the loss of many consonant clusters. Except for Vietnamese, no Austroasiatic languages have anything indicating such an intimate level of language contact....

Old and Early Middle Chinese was therefore likely to have been in intimate contact with proto-Kradai and proto-Hmong-Mien from very early times, and proto-Vietnamese around the time of the Han Dynasty (but not Vietic as a whole or Austroasiatic), to such a degree that they all developed tone together from the time between the 1st Mil BC to the first half of the first Mil AD, and Chinese ended up looking like a language of the mainland Southeast Asian linguistic area than like a ST language.

Of course, one could state that it was contact with now-extinct branches of Austroasiatic that made Chinese look like the rest, however proto-Austroasiatic actually has a typology and morphology that looks like the rest of the ST languages, like Old Tibetan, than like Chinese! Roger Blench points out the similarities here:

The evolution of the MSEA linguistic area therefore is likely to involve some process among the languages listed above, instead of Austroasiatic.

(01-26-2024, 08:31 PM)okarinaofsteiner Wrote: Related: https://genoplot.com/discussions/topic/1...nd-munda/1

Ryukendo Wrote: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/content...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:
Quote: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_and_...e_2015.pdf, the talk titled "Phylogeny, innovations, and correlations in the prehistory of Austroasiatic"

He further elaborates in this talk:

Roger Blench came in with reconstructions of aquatic fauna and boats:

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:

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

He also published this paper:

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.
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