Farming/language dispersal hypothesis

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Farming/language dispersal hypothesis[1] proposes that significant language families in the world dispersed along with the expansions of agriculture, proposed by Peter Bellwood and Colin Renfrew.



Anatolian hypothesis states that Proto-Indo-European speakers lived in Anatolia throughout the Neolithic period, and that the spread of the Indo-European language was associated with the Neolithic Revolution of the 7-6th millennium BC. It claims that the Indo-European language spread from Asia Minor to Europe around 7000 BC with the Neolithic Revolution and happened peacefully mixed with indigenous peoples.[2] Therefore, most Neolithic Europeans speak Indo-European, and later migrations have replaced it with another Indo-European language. However, there are currently more evidences that support the Kurgan hypothesis, which is another hypothesis of origin and dispersal of Indo-European languages.[3][4]


The Bantu languages descend from a common Proto-Bantu language, which is believed to have been spoken in what is now Cameroon in Central Africa.[5] An estimated 2,500–3,000 years ago (1000 BC to 500 BC), speakers of the Proto-Bantu language began a series of migrations eastward and southward, carrying agriculture with them. This Bantu expansion came to dominate Sub-Saharan Africa east of Cameroon, an area where Bantu peoples now constitute nearly the entire population.[5][6] Some other sources estimate the Bantu Expansion started closer to 3000 BC.[7]


There are two hypotheses about the origin of the Afroasiatic languages, the Levant theory and the African continental theory. According to the theory of Levant, the distribution was expanded to Africa in conjunction with the spread of agriculture.[8][9]


Bomhard (2008)[10] suggested that the Proto-Nostratic language differentiated with the onset of the Levant Neolithic Revolution in 8,000 BC, and spread across Fertile crescent to Caucasus (Proto-Kartvelian), beyond Egypt and the Red Sea to Horn of Africa (Proto-Afro-Asiatic), to Iranian Plateau (Proto-Elamo-Dravidian), and to Central Asia (Proto-Eurasiatic, then Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Altaic, and Proto-Uralic in 5,000 BC).


Elamo-Dravidian hypothetical language family is often associated with the spread of farming from the Fertile Crescent to the Indus Valley Civilization. However, there is some disagreement with this. Genetic studies have detected a genetic link between Neolithic Iran and South Asians.[11]


Martine Robbeets named "Transeurasian" to Macro-Altaic languages (Turkic, Mongolic, Tungusic, Japonic, and Koreanic). It is suggested that Proto-Transeurasian was spoken in Xinglongwa culture in the west Liao river basin in 6th millenium BC, differentiated to the daughter languages along with millet agriculture.[12][13]


Many scholars believe that the Japonic language was brought from the Korean Peninsula to the Japanese archipelago around 700-300 BC by the Yayoi people who cultivated wet rice.[14][15] According Martine Robbeets (2017), Japonic language originated from Proto-"Transeurasian" language (the common ancestor of Mongolic, Turkic, Tungusic, Japonic, and Koreanic), located in the Xinglongwa culture in the 6th millennium BC. She suggest Proto-Transeurasian people cultivated millet, but after branching to the "Japono-Koreanic" language family in the Liaodong Peninsula, Proto-Japonic was influenced by Para-Austronesian who cultivated wet rice in the Shandong Peninsula in the 2nd-3rd millennium BC, borrowed a large amount of vocabulary mainly related to agriculture, and then went south on the Korean Peninsula and entered the Japanese archipelago in the 1st millennium BC.[16] It is also proposed that the distribution of Japanese has expanded with the expansion of wet rice cultivation in the Japanese archipelago.[17]


It is proposed that the spread of Austronesian languages was driven by farming.[18][19][20]


Since 2019, phylogenetic studies of 50 Sino-Tibetan languages that have existed from ancient times to the present day have proved the hypothesis that the language family expanded with agricultural transmission. It is concluded that the Sino-Tibetan language family originated from the millet farming people located in North China 7,200 years ago.[21][22][23][24]


Several theories exist about the Urheimat of Austroasiatic languages; the Red River Delta,[25] the Mekong River region,[26] the Zhu River region,[27] the Yangtze River region,[28][29] and the north of the Yangtze River.[30][31] Proto-Austro-Asiatic speaking people was a farmer who cultivated rice and millet and raised dogs, pigs, chickens, etc., but without millet cultivation (with only rice cultivation and some livestock farming), around 4500 BC, it reached Indochina and replaced native hunter-gatherers.[32]


It is suggested that Uto-Aztecan speakers expanded to Mesoamerica and Southwestern US with corn farming.[33][34][35]


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