|South and Southeast Asia|
|Linguistic classification:||One of the world's major language families|
The Austroasiatic (Austro-Asiatic) languages, in recent classifications synonymous with Mon–Khmer, are a large language family of continental Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India, Bangladesh, and the southern border of China. The name Austroasiatic comes from the Latin words for "south" and "Asia", hence "South Asia". Among these languages, only Khmer, Vietnamese, and Mon have a long-established recorded history, and only Vietnamese and Khmer have official status (in Vietnam and Cambodia, respectively). The rest of the languages are spoken by minority groups. Ethnologue identifies 168 Austroasiatic languages. These form thirteen established families (plus perhaps Shompen, which is poorly attested, as a fourteenth), which have traditionally been grouped into two, as Mon–Khmer and Munda. However, recent classifications have abandoned Mon–Khmer as a taxon, either reducing it in scope or making it synonymous with the larger family.
Austroasiatic languages have a disjunct distribution across India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, separated by regions where other languages are spoken. They appear to be the autochthonous languages of Southeast Asia, with the neighboring Indic, Tai, Dravidian, Austronesian, and Tibeto-Burman languages being the result of later migrations (Sidwell & Blench, 2011).
|This section requires expansion. (November 2010)|
The Austroasiatic languages are well known for having a "sesquisyllabic" pattern, with basic nouns and verbs consisting of a reduced minor syllable plus a full syllable. Many of them also have infixes.
Much work has been done on the reconstruction of Proto-Mon–Khmer in Harry L. Shorto's Mon–Khmer Comparative Dictionary. Little work has been done on the Munda languages, which are not well documented; with their demotion from a primary branch, Proto-Mon–Khmer becomes synonymous with Proto-Austroasiatic.
Sidwell (2005) reconstructs the consonant inventory of Proto-Mon–Khmer as follows:
This is identical to earlier reconstructions except for *ʄ. *ʄ is better preserved in the Katuic languages, which Sidwell has specialized in. Sidwell (2011) suggests that the likely homeland of Austroasiatic is the middle Mekong, in the area of the Bahnaric and Katuic languages (approximately where modern Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia come together), and that the family is not as old as frequently assumed, dating to perhaps 4000 BCE.
Linguists traditionally recognize two primary divisions of Austroasiatic: the Mon–Khmer languages of Southeast Asia, Northeast India and the Nicobar Islands, and the Munda languages of East and Central India and parts of Bangladesh. However, no evidence for this classification has ever been published.
Each of the families that is written in boldface type below is accepted as a valid clade. By contrast, the relationships between these families within Austroasiatic is debated. In addition to the traditional classification, two recent proposals are given, neither of which accept traditional "Mon–Khmer" as a valid unit. However, little of the data used for competing classifications has ever been published, and therefore cannot be evaluated by peer review.
In addition, there are suggestions that additional branches of Austroasiatic might be preserved in substrata of Acehnese in Sumatra (Diffloth), the Chamic languages of Vietnam, and the Land Dayak languages of Borneo (Adelaar 1995).
Sidwell (2009, 2011) 
Sidwell (2009a), in a lexicostatistical comparison of 36 languages which are well-known enough to exclude loan words, finds little evidence for internal branching, though he did find an area of increased contact between the Bahnaric and Katuic languages, such that languages of all branches apart from the geographically distant Munda and Nicobarese show greater similarity to Bahnaric and Katuic the closer they are to those branches, without any noticeable innovations common to Bahnaric and Katuic. He therefore takes the conservative view that the thirteen branches of Austroasiatic should be treated as equidistant on current evidence. Sidwell & Blench (2011) discuss this proposal in more detail, and note that there is good evidence for a Khasi–Palaungic node, which could also possibly be closely related to Khmuic. If this would the case, Sidwell & Blench suggest that Khasic may have been an early offshoot of Palaungic that had spread westward. Sidwell & Blench (2011) suggest Shompen as an additional branch, and believe that a Vieto-Katuic connection is worth investigating. In general, however, the family is thought to have diversified too quickly for a deeply nested structure to have developed, since Proto-Austroasiatic speakers are believed by Sidwell to have radiated out from the central Mekong River valley relatively quickly.
Gérard Diffloth (2005) 
Diffloth compares reconstructions of various clades, and attempts to classify them based on shared innovations, though like other classifications the evidence has not been published. As a schematic, we have:
Or in more detail,
- Munda languages (India)
- Koraput: 7 languages
- Core Munda languages
- Kharian–Juang: 2 languages
- North Munda languages
- Kherwarian: 12 languages
- Khasi–Khmuic languages (Northern Mon–Khmer)
- Khasian: 3 languages of eastern India and Bangladesh
- Palaungo-Khmuic languages
- Khmuic: 13 languages of Laos and Thailand
- Khmero-Vietic languages (Eastern Mon–Khmer)
- Nico-Monic languages (Southern Mon–Khmer)
This family tree is consistent with recent studies of migration of Y-Chromosomal haplogroup O2a1-M95. However, the dates obtained from DNA studies are several times older than that given by linguists. The route map of the people with haplogroup O2a1-M95, speaking this language can be seen in this link.
Ilia Peiros (2004) 
Peiros is a lexicostatistic classification, based on percentages of shared vocabulary. This means that a language may appear to be more distantly related than it actually is due to language contact. Indeed, when Sidwell (2009a) replicated Peiros's study with languages known well enough to account for loans, he did not find the internal (branching) structure below.
Diffloth (1974) 
- North Munda
- South Munda
- Koraput Munda
- North Munda
Writing systems 
- Chữ Nôm
- Khmer alphabet
- Ol Chiki alphabet (Santali alphabet)
- Sorang Sompeng alphabet (Sora alphabet)
- Varang Kshiti (Ho alphabet)
See also 
- Bradley (2012) notes, MK in the wider sense including the Munda languages of eastern South Asia is also known as Austroasiatic.
- Diffloth 2005, Sidwell 2009
- Roger Blench, 2009. Are there four additional unrecognised branches of Austroasiatic? Presentation at ICAAL-4, Bangkok, October 29–30. Summarized in Sidwell and Blench (2011).
- Sidwell, Paul, and Roger Blench. 2011. "The Austroasiatic Urheimat: the Southeastern Riverine Hypothesis." Enfield, N.J. (ed.) Dynamics of Human Diversity, 317-345. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. http://rogerblench.info/Archaeology/SE%20Asia/SR09/Sidwell%20Blench%20offprint.pdf
- Sidwell (2005) casts doubt on Diffloth's Vieto-Katuic hypothesis, saying that the evidence is ambiguous, and that it is not clear where Katuic belongs in the family.
- Kumar, Vikrant et al, Y-chromosome evidence suggests a common paternal heritage of Austroasiatic populations, BMC Evol Biol. 2007, 7: 47.
- "Figure". www.biomedcentral.com. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-47. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Vietnamese Chu Nom script". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Khmer/Cambodian alphabet, pronunciation and language". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Santali alphabet, pronunciation and language". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Sorang Sompeng script". Omniglot.com. 1936-06-18. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
- "Varang Kshiti alphabet and Ho language". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (December 2008)|
- Adams, K. L. (1989). Systems of numeral classification in the Mon–Khmer, Nicobarese and Aslian subfamilies of Austroasiatic. Canberra, A.C.T., Australia: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 0-85883-373-5
- Bradley, David (2012). "Languages and Language Families in China", in Rint Sybesma (ed.), Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics.
- Chakrabarti, Byomkes. (1994). A Comparative Study of Santali and Bengali.
- Diffloth, Gérard (2005). "The contribution of linguistic palaeontology and Austro-Asiatic". in Laurent Sagart, Roger Blench and Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, eds. The Peopling of East Asia: Putting Together Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics. 77–80. London: Routledge Curzon. ISBN 0-415-32242-1
- Filbeck, D. (1978). T'in: a historical study. Pacific linguistics, no. 49. Canberra: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University. ISBN 0-85883-172-4
- Hemeling, K. (1907). Die Nanking Kuanhua. (German language)
- Peck, B. M., Comp. (1988). An Enumerative Bibliography of South Asian Language Dictionaries.
- Peiros, Ilia. 1998. Comparative Linguistics in Southeast Asia. Pacific Linguistics Series C, No. 142. Canberra: Australian National University.
- Shorto, Harry L. edited by Sidwell, Paul, Cooper, Doug and Bauer, Christian (2006). A Mon–Khmer comparative dictionary. Canberra: Australian National University. Pacific Linguistics. ISBN 0-85883-570-3
- Shorto, H. L. Bibliographies of Mon–Khmer and Tai Linguistics. London oriental bibliographies, v. 2. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.
- Sidwell, Paul (2005). "Proto-Katuic Phonology and the Sub-grouping of Mon–Khmer Languages". In Sidwell, ed., SEALSXV: papers from the 15th meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistic Society.
- Sidwell, Paul (2009a). The Austroasiatic Central Riverine Hypothesis. Keynote address, SEALS, XIX.
- Sidwell, Paul (2009b). Classifying the Austroasiatic languages: history and state of the art. LINCOM studies in Asian linguistics, 76. Munich: Lincom Europa.
- Zide, Norman H., and Milton E. Barker. (1966) Studies in Comparative Austroasiatic Linguistics, The Hague: Mouton (Indo-Iranian monographs, v. 5.).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Austroasiatic languages|
- Swadesh lists for Austro-Asiatic languages (from Wiktionary's wikt:Appendix:Swadesh lists Swadesh-list appendix)
- Austro-Asiatic, the LINGUIST List MultiTree Project
- Mon–Khmer.com: Lectures by Paul Sidwell
- Ethnologue classification
- Mon–Khmer Languages Project at SEAlang