East Asian ethnolinguistic phylogeography

van Driem, George (2013). East Asian ethnolinguistic phylogeography. Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics, 7(1), pp. 135-188. Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics

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A polyphyletic understanding of Asian linguistic diversity was first propagated in 1823. Since 1901, various scholars have proposed larger linguistic phyla uniting two or more recognised Asian language families. The most recent proposal in this tradition, Starosta’s 2001 East Asian phylum, comprising the Trans-Himalayan, Hmong-Mien, Austroasiatic, Austronesian and Kradai language families, is reassessed in light of linguistic and non-linguistic evidence. Ethnolinguistically informed inferences based on Asian Y chromosomal phylogeography lead to a reconstruction of various episodes of ethnolinguistic prehistory which lie beyond the linguistic event horizon, i.e. at a time depth empirically inaccessible to historical linguistics. The Father Tongue correlation in population genetics, the evidence for refugia during the Last Glacial Maximum and the hypothesis of language families having arisen as the result of demographic bottlenecks in prehistory are shown to be crucial to an understanding of the ethnogenesis of East Asian linguistic phyla. The prehistory of several neighbouring Asian language families is discussed, and the Centripetal Migration model is opposed to the Farming Language Dispersal theory.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

van Driem, George


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics




Maxwell Perkins Phillips

Date Deposited:

11 Apr 2014 16:01

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:31





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