Category Archives: Anthropology

More on the Remains of Ancient Australoid “Indo-Pacific” Languages in India

Jm8: Might there have also been more than one language family among the proto-Australoid peoples of India I wonder (including Austroasiatic) (like there are in Australia and Papua today), since India is big and had been inhabited for a very long time (being among the longest inhabited areas outside Africa)?

It would be interesting to investigate the distribution of Austroasiatic influence over the various Dravidian languages to see where in India it is stronger.

This article suggests that Austroasiatic is not indigenous to India (but rather to south east Asia).

I had though that the Veddoid/early Australoid languages of India might be lost forever and only (maybe) partly reconstructible (in as few aspects) from their influences on other languages that replaced them. But if they were Austroasiatic (and represented by those languages surviving in Andra Pradesh), then that is not the case.

“The Vedda/Australoid people are speakers of the Munda branch of Austroasiatic. There is an Austroasiatic layer in both Dravidian and Indic. It is the oldest layer.”

That’s interesting. I thought Austroasiatic was associated with Southern Proto (Paleo?)-Mongoloids (like some of the Northeast Indian tribes — and Vietnamese is Austroasiatic). But maybe it predates the split between Australoid and Proto-Mongoloid peoples (some Paleomongoloid descendants of course still somewhat resemble Australoids, or did not that long ago in prehistory), which would be interesting. It’s it a very old and deep language family? I know there are some tribes in East Central India (Andra Pradesh I think) that speak Austroasiatic, and they look phenotypically a bit like something transitional between South Mongoloid and Australoid.

“I am not aware of theories showing Dravidian close to Australian languages.”

It might be discredited now (I’ll try to look into it, and the Austroasiatic influence on Dravidian, which is interesting). The theory (I think) was only that there might be a substratal influence of something like one of the Australian families on Dravidian (but still that Dravidian came mostly from somewhere the Middle East — or consistent with that idea anyway).

It might make sense that there is a substratal influence from “Indo-Pacific” languages such as those from the Andaman Islands and West Papua in Dravidian, but I have never heard of it. That would be an older layer underneath even the Munda layer in Dravidian.

There was no split between Australoids and Proto-Mongoloids. The former simply transitioned into the latter. Austroasiatic is associated with the Paleomongoloids and Neomongoloids of SE Asia. Austroasiatic is indeed old and deep, and the evidence for Austroasiatic is about as good as the evidence for Afroasiatic and Altaic. This doesn’t make sense because Afroasiatic and Austroasiatic are generally recognized families, but Altaic is not, although there evidence for the two former is no better than the evidence for the latter.

They were not lost forever as Kusunda, Nihali and the Vedda language substrate seem to be the remains of the tongues of the original Australoid speakers. The original tongues were not Austroasiatic – those languages came later. However, at the moment, most of the highly Australoid people in India speak a Munda language like Santhal. Apparently the Munda languages were once widespread over the whole continent, but most of them were replaced by Dravidian and Indic intrusions. In the more settled people, Dravidian and Indic replaced Munda languages, but in the tribals, the earlier Munda tongues lingered perhaps due to their inaccessibility living in the forest and the fact that the scheduled tribes are mostly outside the caste system.

Yes and the split between the Munda languages and the rest of the Austroasiatic is very deep. Austroasiatic can almost be split into Munda and non-Munda as two basic parts of the family. And there is not a lot left connecting the Munda languages to the rest of the family.

Kusunda, Nihali and the substrate of the Vedda language of Sri Lanka are thought to be the remains of the languages of the original Australoid speakers. These languages may be related to the Andaman Islands languages and Papuan languages. I know there is a connection between Kusunda and Andaman Islands languages and West Papuan tongues. There is some theorized relationship with such “Indo=Pacific” tongues and Nihali and the Vedda substrate also.

Yes, the Mundas came into India relatively lately and surely replaced nearly all of those original Andaman/Papuan languages of the Australoid people.

At the moment, Kusunda and Nihali are isolates, and even the Andaman tongues are split into two different families, so right now there are already separate language families among these Australoid people.

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Filed under Afroasiatic, Altaic, Anthropology, Asia, Austro-Asiatic, Cultural, Dravidian, India, Indic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Irano-Armenian, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Isolates, Language Families, Linguistics, Pacific, Physical, Regional, South Asia, Sri Lanka

The Influence of the Tongues of Australoid/Vedda People in India on Dravidian Languages

Jm8: I wonder what influence the languages of the proto-Australoid/Veddoid peoples had on modern Dravidian languages. It seems pretty clear that Dravidian came primarily from a Near Eastern family also ancestral to Elamite (Elamo-Dravidian) in Iran and reached India around the Neolithic. But I wonder if Veddoid peoples’ languages could have a substratal influence on Dravidian (or at least some Dravidian languages—esp those farther south or the tribal ones), even perhaps playing a role in its divergence from its Elamo-Dravidian root; depending on where Dravidian truly diverged (e.g: If it diverged within the Indian subcontinent—like around Pakistan/NW India—, where proto-Australoid peoples lived).

The influence of those peoples might be hard to assess. I recall a while ago reading about an old theory that Dravidian had some grammatical similarities to certain Australian Aboriginal languages (Northern maybe?).

But did these similarities also exist I wonder in the one surviving Dravidian language of the North, Brahui in Pakistan, whose speakers presumably have much less native proto-Australoid ancestry?

One might possibly also check for similarities to Andamanese languages (a bit of a long shot I know).

The Vedda/Australoid people are speakers of the Munda branch of Austroasiatic. There is an Austroasiatic layer in both Dravidian and Indic. It is the oldest layer.

I am not aware of theories showing Dravidian close to Australian languages.

There is a moribund language spoken in Nepal called Kusunda which appears to be related to West Papuan the Andaman Islands languages.

Keep in mind that in mainstream Historical Linguistics (which has deviated far away from anything sane anymore anyway), there is no Papuan language family. Instead, Papua is divided into 37 separate language families and 20 isolates. They also say there is no Australian language family,  although I believe R. W. Dixon made a case for one. Instead we have 20 different language families and four isolates in Australia. And they do not posit that the Andaman languages form a coherent family. There are two separate families even in the Andaman Islands, with Ongan and Greater Andamanese, with no demonstrated relationship between them. I have looked at the Andaman languages, and trust me, some of them are extremely far apart.

The people positing that Papuan, Australian and Andaman are language families or even that all three together form a single family called Indo-Pacific (Joseph Greenberg’s hypothesis) are all long-rangers whose views are not accepted in mainstream linguistics. However, Steven Wurm accepts a much-modified and more conservative view of Greenberg’s theory.  In addition, it appears that Trans New Guinea, West Papuan, Greater Andamanese and some Timorese languages, all included in Greenberg’s Indo-Pacific, show striking similarities which to my mind could only be genetic.

At any rate mainstream Linguistics is very conservative as far as Historical Linguistics goes. The existence of Elamo-Dravidian, which should be obvious to anyone looking, is not even regarded as proven.

I have looked at Dravidian quite a bit, and I did not think it was even close to the putative Nostratic family of Northern Eurasia. Instead it seemed to be closer to Afroasiatic than anything else. If Elamite was spoken in Western Iran, and before that the proto-Dravidians were in the Levant (according to the old theories), then it would make sense that Dravidian would be closer to Afroasiatic than anything else.

Keep in mind that Afroasiatic is a very old family – it may be 13-15,000 years old. And the fact that it is even regarded as proven at all (yes there are some ultra-splitters who are now saying that Afroasiatic is not even real) shows how wrong Historical Linguistics is when they say that any relationships older than 8,000 years cannot be proven because they are beyond the means of the comparative method of Historical Linguistics. If anything over 8,000 YBP is unknowable as far as the comparative method is concerned, then how did we prove Afroasiatic which goes back 15,000 YBP?

But Comparative Linguistics has gotten totally offtrack. Whereas traditionally, we simply observed languages and threw them into families based on obvious similarities and only after that reconstructed, now they have it backwards. No matter how much the languages look alike, we can’t put them into a family unless we have reconstructed all the way back to the proto-languages and found regular sound correspondences. Only then do we prove relatedness.

But Linguistics never worked that way before. Relatedness was posited simply on observation, and only later was the hard reconstruction work with regular sound correspondences done.

According to Lyle Campbell, Joanna Nichols and others unfortunately at the top of Historical Linguistics nowadays, Sir William Jones could not have even posited the existence of an Indo-European family because we had not yet reconstructed Proto-Indo-European and its regular sound correspondences yet. See? They’ve got it backwards.

Anyway even IE is not well understood. How’s that Laryngeal Theory working out for you guys? Coming right along, right? Didn’t think so. Just as I thought.

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Filed under Aborigines, Afroasiatic, Anthropology, Asia, Australia, Comparitive, Dravidian, India, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Iran, Isolates, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Nepal, Pacific, Pakistan, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, South Asia

The Confusing Genetics of East Indians

A-Man: Robert why did you say that south Indians are Caucasoid in genes? Aren’t they like a midway group between proto-Arabids (Caucasoid) and Australoid?

On some charts (autosomal DNA) the only Australoids are Papuans and Aborigines, and Indians look Caucasoid on those charts. That would be Cavalli-Sforza’s chart. However, they are some of the strangest Caucasoids of all as they are distantly related to the rest and closer to Asians than any other Caucasoids. Other charts have them an independent race between Asians and Caucasoids.

And yes, Indians are linked to Europeans, especially Southern Europeans, via Arabs. The link goes like this:

Greeks -> Arabs -> Indians

And honestly there is not a lot of genetic distance between any of those groups. The Asian and African sub-races are much further apart than Caucasoids. There is probably more distance between Samoyeds and Chukchi than between any of the three above.

Incidentally, the Chukchi somehow barely end up in the Caucasoid plot on Cavalli-Sforza’s autosomal chart! This indicates how closely related some of those ancient Siberians are to ancient Caucasoids. There is a group called Ancient Northeast Asians from 15-20,000 YBP that seems to be ancestral to both NE Asians and Caucasoids. There are also links between Orcadians (Scottish Islanders) and Siberians. Skulls from Europe from 21,000 YBP look more Amerindian than anything else. The closest match-up between those ancient European skulls is the Makah Amerindian tribe from the US. But the Amerindians are sometimes thought of as a NE Asian-Caucasoid link anyway.

Another interesting thing on Cavalli-Sforza’s chart is that the Berbers, a Caucasoid group, land barely in the African plot! This shows deep links between North African Caucasians and Black Subsaharan Africans.

There is a small Berberid group from Algeria called Mozabites. These are Caucasoids, but they are some of the weirdest-looking Caucasoids I have ever seen. They don’t really look like any other race of humans, but if you had to throw them anywhere, you would have to put them in Caucasians. Some of them look remarkably like people from India. In papers about the genesis of the Caucasian race, North Africa, the Middle East and India are mentioned as three hubs of the development of this race with many migrations back and forth over 30-40,000 YBP. And that Mozabite group gets mentioned over and over when they talk about the remains of ancient genetic groups along with the Uighur for some odd reason.

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Filed under Aborigines, Africa, Algeria, Amerindians, Anthropology, Arabs, Asians, Berbers, Blacks, Chuckchi, East Indians, Europe, Europeans, Genetics, India, North Africa, North Africans, Papuans, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Siberians, South Asia, South Asians, Uighurs

Where Did the Dravidians Come from?

Trash: A-MAN

I have no notion of where Dravidian people are from. This is quite mysterious although they are somewhat similar to Australian aboriginals.

But who knows where they are from?

Dravidians are possibly ancient Caucasoids. They probably came from Western Iran (Elamites) and before that, maybe the Levant all the way back to 15-20,000 YBP by the old theories.

They only look like Aborigines because they admixed so heavily with the existing population of Australoid Veddoid types who were already there when the Dravidians showed up.

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Filed under Aborigines, Anthropology, Asia, East Indians, India, Iran, Middle East, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, South Asia, South Asians

An Ancient Link Between India and Australia

Halal Butcher of Lhasa: Aboringinal Australians and their dingo dogs are linked to Dravidians in S. Asia according to scientists at Max Planck Institute of Germany.

Wow, that is great information. Thanks for that. I have not even read the link yet, but a link between early Indians and Aborigines has been suggested before.

There is a theory about the peopling of Australia that the present day Aborigines are not even the aboriginal people. The Kow Swamp people were an earlier group, and they were even more primitive than Aborigines. Some think the Kow Swamp person is not even Homo Sapiens. The skull is quite Erectus-like. It is nearly a relict hominid. Anyway the old theory is that these very primitive folks got replaced in two waves.

One wave was called Murrayians. This is an Ainu or Vedda-like group from the Thailand area. Skulls from Thailand 25,000 YBP resemble Aborigines. We know that there are very primitive people in Thailand 16,000 YBP whose skulls line up perfectly with the ancient Japanese Jomonese who later become the Ainu. There is still a Veddoid group in Thailand today called the Senoi.

There are drawings of Jomonese types even from Korea that show them as very robust types that do look quite Ainuid. It’s now known that the Ainu are a cold-adapted Australoid type by skulls, although their genes look Japanese and Korean. There has long been thought to be an Austronesian-like layer in Japanese which would logically go back to the ancient language spoken by these immigrants from Thailand. In other words, quite a few of the Japanese came up from the far south from SE Asia long ago. These earlier people mixed by Yayoi from Korea who invaded 2,300 YBP and slowly conquered the Ainu up the peninsula to the Far North. This conquest was apparently still underway in the modern era. The Japanese gene pool is ~20% Ainu.

Around the same time, the traditional model said that a very Ainuid-looking people moved into the Philippines. Logically these would have been these ancient Thai on the way to Japan stopping off in the Philippines.

The Murrayians are said to have come to Australia between 15-20,000 YBP. Logically these could have been these proto-Jomonese types from Thailand.

The second wave to Australia according to the old model were the Carpinterians. They came 10-15,000 YBP and are thought to have come from India. Logically these were Indian Australoid/Veddoid types from the south. All Indians looked like Aborigines (Australoid) until 8,000 YBP. The transition towards Caucasoid only occurred in the last 8,000 years. It may well have been this Carpinterian group that brought the dingo digs along with themselves in a seaward movement to Australia ~13,000 YBP.

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Filed under Aborigines, Ainu, Anthropology, Asia, Asians, Australia, East Indians, India, Japan, Japanese, Koreans, Northeast Asians, Philippines, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, SE Asia, SE Asians, South Asians, Thai, Thailand

Judith Mirville On Feminism and Female Rule

Fantastic. This is the example I was thinking of talking about an African culture where women pretty much run things.

Judith Mirville: There are quite a few traditional cultures like that where all the brainy and managerial work is done by women, and the men keep content with mere physical work and a more childish, happy-go-lucky personality throughout life. That is the case with the Bamileke culture of Cameroon. But these cultures, by their own avowal, never evolve and keep content with a minimalist standard of living. These cultures, though matriarchal in a technical sense, have no use for any form of vindictive feminism or other left-wing ideology.

Women as a rule are conservative, and the societies where they have the highest real say tend to see all form of progress and experimentation as negative. Instead they idolize a mythical past without technical progress.

Women as a rule when having been in power for a few generations tend also to devalue learning in the academic sense. In the societies where they alone access it, learning is devalued except as an utilitarian means of day-to-day economic survival or of social interaction, so such societies prefer to stay backward.

If feminism is to last as a dominant ideology in the West (which supposes it jettisons all references to any resentment-based progressive thought and also to non-standard sexuality), it will turn the countries it rules into underdeveloped ones, so the Winnipeg picture of the women construction business manager with an attaché-case with a construction worker as a servant is a wholly disconnected fantasy.

What you could get instead as a picture of things to come (in the halcyon case everything goes on well for the feminist cause and their beneficiaries grow wise) is a woman open-air market manager with men acting as cowboys in the background (if the Plains of Winnipeg still exist), the only modern businessperson in the further background being a Chinese or Arab. You may also see male tourist adventurers coming to visit Manitoba as a quite primitive country. Whenever women are really at the top for good, they have no taste for construction, and they prefer to look for a greater profit to be made by existing things that require no invention.

Anyway, right now in Winnipeg, construction workers, especially when they are part of criminal organizations and part-time bouncers, make more money and enjoy higher social status than the nerdy people they despise. The bosses they obey are quite often Sicilian ones who have no use for any feminist manager.

That supposes the feminists in question rediscover a morality and also connect to a traditional spirituality approving of their approach. Maybe an Amerindian one, who knows? But that is far from their present-day perspective: these modern feminists are intent on destroying all morality which they resent against as being of male nature. They may be acting at the behest of vested interests who want to establish a dictatorship based on pure corruption.

Once every whiff of past morality is destroyed, all that remains is self-interest, and even feminism ends up waning as all collective identity causes of the past fade away once the elites have effectively succeeded in rooting out all political idealism and no longer need Identity Politics to divide the masses, a kind of late Ottoman imperial regime is installed, and there are no longer state subventions to special interest groups.

Once public ideals are all destroyed, and all what remains is materialistic self-interest, what do these would-be princesses want? Marrying princes or billionaires, preferably from One and  Thousand Nights-style patriarchal countries such as Qatar or Colombia. The fiercest feminists will be the first to revert to pure gangster-style patriarchy. This just like the fiercest Jewish Marxists were the first to turn into the neocons. Most are now before moving even further to the Right as we see in Israel. That country is growing into another Iran or Qatar with a slightly different Semitic religion.

These feminists only object to idealistic men of ordinary revenues doing the kind of non-work they envy like university tenured professors. When they meet gangsters, even of low life, revenue and status, they enjoy having regular sex with them and settle for traditional family life.

Women are also more egoistical by temperament, and feminism can last as long as there is a progressive ideology justifying the cost of their subventions.

But feminism is not as progressive as it seems since normally women don’t side with their less fortunate sisthren. Even the present-day radical feminists don’t object to FGM as practiced in other cultures.

The reality untold is that sexual pleasure itself however carefully mastered is just contrary to any moral decency and ideal. There is such a thing as carnal sin.

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Filed under Africa, Anthropology, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa, Cultural, Culture, Ethics, Feminism, Gender Studies, Labor, North America, Philosophy, Politics, Radical Feminists, Regional, Social Problems, Sociology, Women

The Chukchi – A Glimpse into An Ancient Past?

Mike: Are the Chukchi actually Paleomongoloids?

Actually, I believe that they are Ancient NE Asians. This race lived from 10-20,000 YBP and gave strong inputs to NE Asians and also most Caucasians, even Europeans. The race seemed to have characteristics similar to what a precursor to the Caucasian and NE Asian races would look like.

The bizarre thing about Chukchis is that on autosomal DNA charts, they are actually all the way over into the Caucasian square! Just barely, but they are there all right. I tell this to people, and they flip out and say, “But they look Asian!” Indeed they do. It is with races like the Chukchis where racial terms like “Caucasian” and “Asian” lose their meaning. I believe that the Chukchi are ancient proto-Caucasian-NE Asians.

Another group that may well be remnants of the Ancient NE Asians may be the Ainu, but they only showed up 14,000 YBP, and by that time, the Ancient Northeast Race was well underway. However, the Ainuid types seem to have spread out quite a bit. Remains from Northern China from 9,000 YBP appear Ainuid. Ainuid or Australoid types were the first people to come to the Americas. There are a few tribes left who seem to be the remnants of these ancient people. One was an extinct tribe in Baja California called the Guaycuru. I am thinking that the Gilyak may also be part of this ancient race. In phenotype, the Gilyak look more Japanese to me than anything else.

The Ancient NE Asian Race may well have been an Australoid type race. Australoid inputs were significant in the formation of the Caucasoid race. An ancient Caucasoid skull from Southern Russia from 33,000 YBP has been classed “Australoid” based on skull type.

The Australoids were in a sense the original Out of Africa people. Yes, they are primitive, sure, but do you think our most ancient ancestors, the OOA people from 70,000 YBP, were not primitive?

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Filed under Ainu, Anthropology, Asia, Asians, China, Eurasia, Europeans, History, Northeast Asians, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Russia, The Americas

Only White People Have Blue Eyes

blue-eyes-01

I guess all these people must be White then. But…but…wait a minute…um….uh….erm…duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Only Europeans have blue eyes only Europeans are White hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..

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Filed under Afghans, Anthropology, Central Asians, East Indians, Europeans, Genetics, Humor, Iranians, Near Easterners, Pakistanis, Physical, Race/Ethnicity, South Asians, Whites

Simplification of Language with Increasing Civilization: A Result of Contact or Civilization Itself

Nice little comment here on an old post, Primitive People Have Primitive Languages and Other Nonsense? 

I would like to dedicate this post to my moronic field of study itself, Linguistics, which believes in many a silly thing as consensus that have never been proved and are either untrue or probably untrue.

One of the idiocies of my field is this belief that in some way or another, most human languages are pretty much the same. They believe that no language is inherently better or worse than any other language, which itself is quite a dubious proposition right there.

They also believe, incredibly, that no language is more complex or simple than any other language. Idiocy!

Another core belief is that each language is perfectly adapted for its speakers. This leads to their rejecting claims that some languages are unsuitable for the modern world due to lack of modern vocabulary. This common belief of many minority languages is obviously true. Drop a Papuan in Manhattan, and see what good his Torricelli tongue does him. He won’t have words for most of the things around him. He won’t even have verbs for most of the actions he sees around him. His language is nearly useless in this environment.

My field also despises notions that some languages are better suited to poetry, literature or say philosophy than others or that some languages are more or less concise or exact than others or that certain concepts or ways of thinking are better expressed in one language as opposed to another. However, this is a common belief among polyglots, and I would not be surprised if it was true.

The question we are dealing with below is based on the notion that many primitive languages are exceeding complex and the common sense observation that as languages acquire more speakers and civilization increases, one tends to see a simplification of language.

My field out and out rejects both statements.

They will tell you that primitive languages are no more complex than more civilized tongues and that there is no truth to the statement that languages simplify with greater numbers of speakers and increased civilization. However, I have shot these two rejected notions to many non-linguists, and they all felt that these statements had truth to them. Once again, my field violates common sense in the name of the abstract and abstruse “we can’t prove anything about anything” scientific nihilism so common in the intellectually degraded social sciences.

Indeed, some of the most wildly complex languages of all can be found among rather primitive peoples such as Aborigines, Papuans, Amerindians and even Africans. Most language isolates like Ket, Burashaski and Basque are pretty wild. The languages of the Caucasus are insanely complex, and that region doesn’t exactly look like Manhattan. Siberian languages are often maddeningly complex.

Even in China, in the remoter parts of China, language becomes highly differentiated and probably more complex. I know an American who was able to learn Cantonese and Mandarin who told me that at age 35, for an American to learn Hokkien was virtually impossible. He tried various schemes, but they all failed. He finally started to get a hold of the language with a strict eight hour a day study schedule. Anything less resulted in failure. Hokkien speakers that he spoke too said you needed to grow up speaking Hokkien to be able to speak the language well at all. By the way, this is another common sense notion that linguists reject. They say there are no languages so difficult that it is very hard to pick them up unless you grew up with them.

The implication here is that Min Nan is even more complex than the difficult Mandarin or even the forbidding Cantonese, which even many Mandarin speakers give up trying to learn because it is too hard.

Min Nan comes out Fujian Province, a land of forbiddingly high mountains where language differentiation is very high, and there is often difficult intelligibility even from village to village. In one area, fifteen years ago an American researcher decided to walk to a nearby village. It took him six very difficult hours over steep mountains. He could have taken the bus, but that was a four-day trip! A number of these areas had no vehicle roads until recently and others were crossed by vast rivers that had no bridges across them. Transportation was via foot. Obviously civilization in these parts of China is at a more primitive level, and it’s hard to develop Hong Kong-style cities in places with such isolating and rugged terrain.

It’s more like, “Oh, those people on the other side of the ridge? We never go there, but we heard that their language is a lot different from ours. It’s too hard to go over that range so we never go to that area.”

In the post, I theorized that as civilization increased, time becomes money, and there is a need to get one’s point across quickly, whereas more primitive peoples often spend no more than 3-4 hours a day working and the rest sitting around, playing  and relaxing. A former Linguistics professor told me that one theory is that primitive people, being highly intelligent humans (all humans are highly intelligent by default), are bored by their primitive lives, so they enjoy their wildly complex languages and like to relax, hang out and play language games with them to test each other on how well they know the structures. They also like to play tricky and maybe humorous language games with their complicated languages. In other words, these languages are a source of intellectual stimulation and entertainment in an intellectually impoverished area.

Of course, my field rejects this theory as laughably ridiculous, but no one has disproven it yet, and I doubt if the hypothesis has even been tested, hence it is an open question. My field even tends to reject the notion of open questions, preferring instead to say that anything not proven (or even tested for that matter) is demonstrably false. That’s completely anti-scientific, but that’s the trend nowadays across the board as scientistic thinking replaces scientific thinking.

Of course this is in line with the terrible conservative or reactionary trend in science where Science is promoted to a fundamentalist religion and scientists decide that various things are simply proven true or proven not true and attempts to change the consensus paradigm are regarded derisively or with out and out fury and rage and such attempts are rejected via endless moving of goalposts with the goal of making it never possible to prove the hypothesis. If you want to see an example of this in Linguistics, look at the debate around  Altaic. They have set it up so that no matter how much existing evidence we are able to gather for the theory, we will probably never be able to prove it as barriers to proof have been set up to make the question nearly unprovable.

It’s rather senseless to set up Great Wall of China-like barriers to proof in science because at some point,  you are hardly proving anything new, apparently because you don’t want to.

Fringe science is one of the most hated branches of science and many scientists refer to it as pseudoscience. Practitioners of fringe science have a very difficult time as the Scientific Establishment often persecutes them, for instance trying to get them fired from professorships. Yet this Establishment is historically illiterate because many of the most stunning findings in history were made by widely ridiculed fringe scientists.

The commenter below rejects my theory that increased civilization itself results in language simplification, as it gets more important to get your point across as quickly  as possible with increasing complexity and development of society. Instead he says civilization leads to increased contact between speakers of different dialects or language, and in such cases,  language must be simplified, often dramatically, in order for any decent communication to occur. Hence increased contact, not civilization in and of itself, is the driver of simplification.

I like this theory, and I think he may be onto something.

To me the simplification of languages of more ‘civilized’ people is mostly a product of language contact rather than of civilization itself. If the need arises to communicate with foreign people all of the time, for example in trade, then the language must become more simple in order to be able to be understood by more people.

Also population size matters a lot. It has been found that the greater the number of speakers, the greater the rate of language change. For example Polynesian languages, although having been isolated centuries or even millennia ago, still have only minor differences from one another.

In the case of many speakers, not all will be able to learn all the rules of a language, so they will tend to use the most common ones. And if the language is split in many dialects, then speakers of each dialect must find a compromise in order to communicate, which might come out as simple. If we add sociolects, specific registers for some occasions, sacred registers, slang etc, something that will arise in a big and stratified civilization, then the linguistic barriers people will need to overcome become greater. So it is just normal that after some centuries, this system to simplify.

We don’t need to look farther than Europe. Most languages of the western half being spoken in countries with strong trade links to one another and with much of the world later in history are quite analytic, but the languages of the more isolated eastern part are still like the older Indo-European languages. Basques, living in a small isolated pocket in the Iberian Peninsula, have kept a very complex language. Icelanders, also due to isolation, have kept a quite conservative Germanic language, whereas most modern Germanic languages are ridiculously simplified. No one can argue in his sane mind that Icelanders are primitives.

On the other hand, Romanian, being spoken in the more isolated Balkans, has retained more of the complex morphology of Latin compared to West Romance languages. And of course advance of civilization won’t automatically simplify the language, as Turkish and Russian, both quite complicated languages compared to the average European tongue, don’t seem to give up their complexity nowadays.

On the other hand, indigenous people were living in a much more isolated setting compared to the modern world, the number of speakers was comparatively low, and there was no need to change. Also, neighboring tribes were often hostile to one another, so each tribal group sought to make itself look special. That is the reason why places with much inter-tribal warfare like New Guinea have so many languages which are so different from one another. When these languages need to communicate, we get ridiculously simple contact languages like Hiri Motu.
So language simplification is more a result of language contact rather than civilization itself.

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The Peopling of Indochina

jw: Hi Mr Lindsay, where did the South Chinese come from? Are the Indochinese the same as the South Chinese?

The Vietnamese people came from Southern China about 4-5,000 YBP. There is a Vietnamese legend that says that the forefather of the Vietnamese people came from an area in Southern China near a large lake, the name of which escapes me now. I believe that legend actually lines up with the facts. There was a huge Southern Chinese Yue invasion of Vietnam 2,300 YBP.

There was also a huge movement of Chinese from Yunnan into Thailand 900 YBP.

There was some sort of similar large movement into Laos. In addition, in the last 300-400 years, there was a large movement of Southern Chinese Hmong people into the north of Laos. The indigenous people are composed of a number of small Mon-Khmer speaking groups in the southeast of the country. The Khmu are an example of such a group. The Lao people proper are very similar to the Thai linguistically and anthropologically.

The Indochinese people have a lot of Chinese blood in them, particularly the Vietnamese and the Thai. In both Thailand and Vietnam, the population is heavily mixed between an indigenous group of Paleomongoloids and the newer influx of Neomongoloid Southern Chinese. A good representative of the earlier stock of Paleomongoloids in Vietnam would be the rather primitive Montagnard people in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Thailand has a large Indian component mixed in. Cambodia also has a large Indian component, and their Indian admixture is greater than that of the Thai. The Khmer are probably Paleomongoloid indigenous + Indians + a smaller number of Neomongoloid Chinese. The Khmer may have the largest Paleomongoloid component of the four nations.

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