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					Language groups in
 Northern Eurasia
     F. Jacquesson

In order to present here a clear description, we will
  exclude two massive components:

► Indo-European languages in the west
► Chinese languages in the East

  and will focus on the lesser known groups whose
  speakers have had, and often still have, a major
  role in the linguistic geography of Northern
► 1.   The situation now

► 2.   Documentary evidence
              The situation now
Fenno-Ugric   Samoyedic       Tungusic                            Eskaleut




                     Turkic                         Nivx
                          Ket                         Yukagir
► Finno-ougric
► Samoyedic
► Tungusic                      Uralo-Altaic ??
► Mongolic           Altaic ?
► Turkic
► Eastern Siberic (Chukchee)
► Eskaleut (Eskimo+Aleut)
► Nivx
► Ket                                     ???

► Yukagir
► Ainu
► Japanese
► Korean
Looking into the past

We can:
► 1. study historical documents

► 2.   analyse older linguistic data

► 3.   compare present linguistic data

We will give here an idea of points 1 and 2.
Studying historical documents

► They give precious indications about the
 history of populations.

    : Do older names indicate the ‘same
► But
 people’ as to-day ?
Population ‘layers’ in recent northern Eurasia

► The Russian colonization, since the 17th century;
► The Muslim influence, since the 8th century;
► The Chinese influence, since the beg. of CE.

All these ‘foreign’ intruders brought languages and
   significantly modified the cultural landscape.
Before Russian colonization: the Dolgix map

V. O. Dolgix specialized in Samoyeds.
► He studied the first Russian documents about
  Siberian populations
► in administration reports and merchants’
► He organized his results in a famous map, that he
  first published in 1960.
  Dolgix’ map : Siberia in the 17th century
                                   Light pink: Yukagir

Blue :
                                                                is red



                                        Light green: Tungusic
            Dark pink: Ieniseian
According to Dolgix’ map

►  Yakuts were few in Yakutia
► Yukagirs were numerous and far into the
► Southern Samoyeds were still alive as such
► Yeniseian people were southerners

Let us compare the 17th century situation
  with present time in two striking cases :
                        Yukagir in the 17th century acc. to Dolgix

Kets to-day                                     Yukagir to-day

Ieniseian in the 17th century according to Dolgix
Language change

► Of course, it does not mean that all these people
  were assassinated.
► It means they encouraged their children in
  learning the language of the more powerful
  and in forgetting their own language.

In such cases, which have been fairly widespread at
  all times, but have become more on more
  frequent recently, the lineages remain on the spot,
  while the older languages disappear.
Muslim and Chinese influence in Central Asia

►   The first Turkic documents
    (inscriptions on stone) give
    a detailed account of the
    relations with Chinese, in
    the 8th century.

►   Chinese reports and annals
    help the understanding of
    what happened in the
    steppe belt.
Muslim – Chinese clash in Talas : 751 CE

► Mediaeval  geographers and historians, writing in
  Chinese, Arabic and later in Persian, make us
  realize how different the distribution of power then
► and along which lines local populations were
  intrumentalized, and sometimes transported.

► For instance, it is important to realize that the
  famous battle opposing Chinese and Muslim
  armies, each with different Turkic allies, was
  fought not so far from present Tashkent.
Talas: a passage between China and the West
Talas 751 CE

             Aral Lake



The technique for making paper is supposed to have been transmitted
 from China to the West by Chinese prisonners at Talas.
At that time
► Documents  in Turkic languages are known only
 from Mongolia.
 Mongolian speaking peoples were – maybe – living
 in eastern Mongolia and present Manchuria.

► Most(known) people in Central Asia before the
 Chinese/Muslim conflict were speaking Iranian
 Muslim influence introduced Persian, an Iranian
 language from the west. It slowly superseded the
 eastern Iranian languages like Sogdian – the
 famous language of the Silk Road merchants.
The other teaching
► Although   the historical detail is fairly complicated,

► chronicles  also bring to light a number of reasons
  for the cultural shifts and/or population

► These  deeper factors help us understanding what
  forces were shaping the human landscape in a
  more remote past – before the time of our
Herding and mobility

► Allpieces of evidence, from the inner Asian
  groups themeselves or from their

► underline the contrast between mobile
  herders, mounted on horses, and sedentary

     contrast – at first sight – is graphically
► This
  summed up in the Great Walls of China.
The steppe
Although the steppe corridor is not the only
  important geographical feature in our zone,
  it played a major role in the population

This was reinforced by the asymmetry between the
  rich grazing in the west,
and the more dangerous climate of the eastern
 – provoking the so-called Great Invasions that
  ruined the (western) Roman Empire.
Herding and the steppe corridor

► The nomadic / sedentary contrast does not mean
  the Wall was always high enough.

► The   influence of the cities of the south was clearly
  felt in the north, as we see from the graves, or
  from the ruins in the steppes;
► And the ‘northern barbarians’ have been several
  times in control of the south, in China as in Russia.

► This   led to episodes of symbiosis.
Timur’s tomb
Older linguistic data
Older linguistic data in Northern Eurasia

► [Chinese]
► [Germanic   (runic inscr. since the 3rd c. CE]
► Turkic (c. 5th c., Orkhon inscr. are 8th c.)
► [Tibetan (since 7th c.)]
► Hungarian (since c. 1200)
► Mongolian (13th c., the Secret History is known
  from a Chinese transcription)
Cultural shift

► The  development, in time and space, of
  cultural and/or linguistic factors does not
  always imply population movement.

► This is exemplified by the borrowing of the Semitic
  writing, which crossed the whole continent from
  the Mediterranean to the Pacific.
► And by the yoke and its name, which crossed the
  whole continent from east to west.
From west to east : the Semitic alphabet

             Sogdian script
 Syriac script, beginning of CE Uigur script   Mongol script   Manchu script
From east to west: the name for the yoke

André Haudricourt : Géographie et ethnologie de la voiture, 1948.
To sum it up in 3 steps : 1st step

► The  present day linguistic map is far from being a
  sufficient basis for ‘reconstructing’ the linguistic
  past of Northern Eurasia.
► Even in the 17th c. – a period quite close to ours –
  the situation was very different.
To sum it up : 2nd step

The history of language distribution in Eurasia is
  heavily dependant on ethnological factors :
► herding has been a major factor since the
  domestication of the horse;
► the grazing areas are not evenly distributed;
► relations between the steppe and the cities did
  exist, either on a predatory or a trading mode;
► language replacement was a frequent feature,
  linked with specific views about mobile
To sum it up: 3rd step

► The  community of language (for instance the fact
  that citizens of Turkey speak Turkic, or are
  supposed to) captures only a part of the past
  history – sometimes a deceptive part.
► The political innuendoes, or trumpets, behind
  lanuage mapping are certainly not new.
► A language community should then be seen with
  some feeling for historical details and, when
  possible, with some tact.