Japanese-Korean-Turkish language group traced to farmers in ancient China

A study combining linguistic, genetic and archaeological evidence has traced the origins of the family of languages including modern Japanese, Korean, Turkish and Mongolian and the people who speak them to millet farmers who inhabited a region in northeastern China about 9,000 years ago.

The findings detailed on Wednesday document a shared genetic ancestry for the hundreds of millions of people who speak what the researchers call Transeurasian languages across an area stretching more than 5,000 miles (8,000 km).

The findings illustrate how humankind’s embrace of agriculture following the Ice Age powered the dispersal of some of the world’s major language families. Millet was an important early crop as hunter-gatherers transitioned to an agricultural lifestyle.

There are 98 Transeurasian languages. Among these are Korean and Japanese as well as: various Turkic languages including Turkish in parts of Europe, Anatolia, Central Asia and Siberia; various Mongolic languages including Mongolian in Central and Northeast Asia; and various Tungusic languages in Manchuria and Siberia.

This language family’s beginnings were traced to Neolithic millet farmers in the Liao River valley, an area encompassing parts of the Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin and the region of Inner Mongolia. As these farmers moved across northeastern Asia, the descendant languages spread north and west into Siberia and the steppes and east into the Korean peninsula and over the sea to the Japanese archipelago over thousands of years.

The research underscored the complex beginnings for modern populations and cultures.

Read more: Reuters

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