Dated language phylogenies shed light on the ancestry of Sino-Tibetan

Date

2019

Authors

Sagart, Laurent
Jacques, Guillaume
Lai, Yunfan
Ryder, Robin J
Thouzeau, Valentin
Greenhill, Simon
List, Johann Mattis

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

National Academy of Sciences (USA)

Abstract

The Sino-Tibetan language family is one of the world's largest and most prominent families, spoken by nearly 1.4 billion people. Despite the importance of the Sino-Tibetan languages, their prehistory remains controversial, with ongoing debate about when and where they originated. To shed light on this debate we develop a database of comparative linguistic data, and apply the linguistic comparative method to identify sound correspondences and establish cognates. We then use phylogenetic methods to infer the relationships among these languages and estimate the age of their origin and homeland. Our findings point to Sino-Tibetan originating with north Chinese millet farmers around 7200 B.P. and suggest a link to the late Cishan and the early Yangshao cultures.

Description

Keywords

Sino-Tibetan languages, human prehistory, East Asia, peopling, computer-assisted language comparison

Citation

Source

PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Type

Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

Open Access

License Rights

Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY)

DOI

10.1073/pnas.1817972116

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