Centre for Research in Computational Linguistics
Family Diversity and the Austroasiatic Homeland
When and from where did the Austroasiatic language
disperse? The issue has received renewed attention of late, especially in the
context genetics, archeaology, and interdisciplinary studies, seeking to
understand the pre-history of the region. Among linguists, recent discussions
by Van Dreim (2001) and Diffloth (2005) place proto-Austroasiatic by the
Linguistic arguments have
hinged on the the suggestion that Munda represents an archaic coordinate branch
of Austroasiatic, and is thus indicative of an origin in
Both Shorto (2006) and Diffloth (ms.) have identified a sound correspondence that indicates a shared innovation between Munda, Khasian, Palaungic and Khumuic branches. This implies a phylogeny in which Munda is effectively a Mon-Khmer sub-branch. In that case, perhaps 7 out of 9 Austroasiatic branches are located on or adjacent to the Khorat plateau/Mekong river. Given that rice cultivation did not arise there before 4300 BP, and Austroasiatic is rich in rice terminology, we can suggest a dramatic dispersal event around 4000BP, broadly consistent with the suggestion of Thomas (1973). Perhaps the adoption of rice was the trigger.
Gérard. 2005. The contribution of linguistic palaeontology to the homeland of
Austro-asiatic. In: Sagart, Laurent , Roger Blench and Alicia Sanchez-Mazas
(eds.). The Peopling of
Gérard. ms. Papers held at Cornel Library Manuscript Collection, Box5, folder ‘
Patricia and David Stampe. 2004. Rhythm and the Synthetic Drift of Munda, The
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Axel. 2007. ABC Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese.
L. 2006. A Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary.
George. 2001. Languages of the