Dr Paul Sidwell: Austroasiatic Language History and the Late Neolithic Transition
The Austroasiatic phylum is the oldest language family in Mainland Southeast Asia. Most studies have estimated very deep time depths for proto-Austroasiatic, mostly 7~9,000 years. At the same time scholars have generally agreed that the proto-lexicon includes terms for rice and millet agriculture. This created a problem; we know that cereal agriculture only came to Southeast Asia in the late Neolithic, archaeology indicates rice farming coming into Northern Indo-China from around 4,500BP and reaching the Mekong Delta and Gulf of Thailand around 3,800BP.
This has led scholars to locate the Austroasiatic variously homeland in Central China, Gangetic India, or other locations otherwise proximal with early cereal farming. In this talk Dr Paul Sidwell suggests that the proto-Austroasiatic cereal lexicon, and essentially all of the posited cultural proto-vocabulary, is an epiphenomenon, an artifact of comparativist zeal.
Rogers Room N397
John Woolley A20