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Triangulation fails when neither linguistic, genetic, nor archaeological data support the Transeurasian narrative

Abstract : Robbeets et al. (2021) argue that the dispersal of the so-called “Transeurasian” languages, a highly disputed language superfamily comprising the Turkic, Mongolian, Tungusic, Koreanic, and Japonic language families, was driven by Neolithic farmers in the West Liao River region of China. They adduce evidence from linguistics, archaeology, and genetics to support their claim. An admirable feature of the Robbeets et al.’s paper is that all their datasets can be accessed. However, a closer investigation of all three types of evidence reveals fundamental problems with each of them. Robbeets et al.’s analysis of the linguistic data does not conform to the minimal standards required by traditional scholarship in historical linguistics and contradicts their own stated sound correspondence principles. A reanalysis of the genetic data finds that they do not conclusively support the farming-driven dispersal of Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic, nor the two-wave spread of farming to Korea. Their archaeological data contain little phylogenetic signal, and we failed to reproduce the results supporting their core hypotheses about migrations. Given the severe problems we identify in all three parts of the “triangulation” process, we conclude that there is neither conclusive evidence for a Transeurasian language family nor for associating the five different language families with the spread of Neolithic farmers from the West Liao River region.
Keywords : Transeurasian Altaic
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Contributor : Thomas Pellard Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, June 23, 2022 - 10:21:11 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 3:39:01 AM


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Zheng Tian, Yuxin Tao, Kongyang Zhu, Guillaume Jacques, Robin Ryder, et al.. Triangulation fails when neither linguistic, genetic, nor archaeological data support the Transeurasian narrative. 2022. ⟨hal-03702507⟩



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