Karasuk languages

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Greater Yeniseian
Central Siberia and northern Pakistan
Linguistic classification Proposed language family
Glottolog None

Karasuk is a language family proposed by George van Driem of the University of Leiden that links the Yeniseian languages of central Siberia with the Burushaski language of northern Pakistan.[1]

The family is named after the Karasuk culture, which existed in Central Asia during the Bronze Age in second millennium BCE. Van Driem postulates the Burusho people took part in the Indo-Aryan migration out of Central Asia that resulted in the Indo-European conquest of the Indian sub-continent, while other Karasuk peoples migrated northwards to become the Yeniseians. These claims have recently been picked up by anthropologist and linguist Roger Blench.[2]

The evidence for Karasuk is mostly in the verbal and nominal morphology. For example, the second-person singular prefixes on intransitive verbs are [ɡu-, ɡó-] in Burushaski and [ku-, ɡu-] in Ket. Ket has two verbal declensions, one prefixed with d- and one with b-, and Burushaski likewise has two, one prefixed with d- and one without such a marker. However, neither the Burushaski nor the Yeniseian verbal morphology has been rigorously analysed,[3] and reviewers have found the evidence to be weak.[4]

While Yeniseian has been proposed to be related to the Na-Dene languages of North America, as part of a newly named Dene–Yeniseian family, the relevant morphological correspondences between Na-Dene and Yeniseian have not been found in Burushaski.


  1. ^ George van Driem (2001) Languages of the Himalayas. An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayas, p 1144 ff
  2. ^ Roger Blench (1999) "Language phyla of the Indo-Pacific region: Recent research and classification", in Bellwood & Lilley, eds., Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin, 18:59–76, Australian National University
  3. ^ Van Driem 2001:1146
  4. ^ Roland Bielmeier (review, 2003), "On the Languages of the Himalayas and their Links (nearly) around the World", EBHR 24:96

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