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Lyon, 12 - 14 May 20081New Directions in Historical Linguistics The western Bantu expansion Some implications for Bantu Historical Linguistics drawn from.

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Presentation on theme: "Lyon, 12 - 14 May 20081New Directions in Historical Linguistics The western Bantu expansion Some implications for Bantu Historical Linguistics drawn from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lyon, May 20081New Directions in Historical Linguistics The western Bantu expansion Some implications for Bantu Historical Linguistics drawn from a recent multidisciplinary study Lolke J. van der Veen DDL/Lyon 2

2 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics2 The WBE: implications for linguistics The “Language, culture and genes in Bantu” (LCGB) project –Carried out as part of the OHLL & OMLL programmes ( ) –Developing a multidisciplinary approach combining Linguistics Population genetics Cultural anthropology Archaeology History

3 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics3 The WBE: implications for linguistics An major contribution to the study of the populations of west-central Africa (WCA) –WCA: The presumed homeland of the (Proto-)Bantu-speakers A region with considerable linguistic and cultural diversity A good test case for the “Languages and genes debate”: a fairly good understanding of the linguistic situation of the region, limited time-depth, etc.

4 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics4 The WBE: implications for linguistics –WCA: no longer a blank spot on the genetic map Well-defined and very rigorous criteria were used for sampling Extensive fieldwork (4 field missions in Gabon) –Informing the authorities and the public –(Blood) sampling in the field –Ethnolinguistic and anthropological questionnaires 960 DNA samples from a similar project coordinated by E. Heyer & S. Bahuchet: a total of 1404 samples for the Gabon and Cameroon area –980 agriculturalists (20 pops) –420 hunter-gatherers (9 pops)

5 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics5 The WBE: implications for linguistics –Innovative research that has given rise to several important studies based on uniparental genomes (mtDNA, Y-chromosome) and autosomal markers Cf. Quintana-Murci et al. (2008): Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) Cf. Verdu et al. (forthcoming): relationships between the various Pygmy groups of the area

6 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics6 Total: 960 samples from 21 populations (i.a. 1 non Bantu-speaking pop.) Populations and numbers of individuals sampled in Gabon

7 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics7 The WBE: implications for linguistics What we have been looking at –Linguistic diversity, cultural diversity and population genetic diversity (i.e. synchronic PATTERNS) –Inferences about the progressive peopling of the area based on linguistic analysis and oral tradition, submitted to population geneticists (Barcelona, Paris) Linguistic groupings based on shared phonological, morphological and lexical innovations Evidence of contact from the ongoing study of specialized lexicon

8 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics8  Centres of gravity of indi- vidual languages and lan- guage varieties  Boundary between north- western and central-western Bantu  Eleven clusters represented (colour code) Baka (Ubangian) ignored here! The languages of Gabon

9 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics9 One example of cultural diversity of Gabon: masks

10 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics10 The peopling of Gabon: inferred dispersal paths Bantu expansion (schematic representation and relative chro- nology) Peopling of the Gabon area by Bantu-speaking villagers as sug- gested by language studies and oral tradition (relative chronology: (1)2-5)

11 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics11 The WBE: implications for linguistics What we have been looking for –Correlations between the different types of patterns (as a possible result of coevolution between languages, cultures and genes) –Scenarios capable of explaining the present human diversity (i.e. diachronic PROCESSES) –Matches between the scenarios emerging from the linguistic, cultural and genetic analyses

12 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics12 The WBE: implications for linguistics The results from the genetic analyses are compatible with: –A “recent” Bantu expansion 4,000 YBP according to the most recent archaeological findings –A Bantu homeland in the vicinity of Mount Cameroon Cf. Quintana et al. (2008) –A western Bantu dispersal that moved southward towards the Angola / Namibia area

13 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics13 The WBE: implications for linguistics There is also evidence for: (1/3) –A clear Central African origin for all the populations examined –Extensive exchange between Bantu-speakers during and following the expansion High genetic homogeneity, no clear correlations with the current linguistic classification(s) –One exception for mtDNA: The MYENE-TSOGO (B10-B30) cluster shows a partial correlation between languages and genes –This exception can easily be accounted for by a massive integration of TSOGO female individuals into MYENE groups (known from history) The extent of multilingualism, language replacement and language merger (and death) has clearly been underestimated

14 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics14 The WBE: implications for linguistics There is also evidence for: (2/3) –Ancient and ongoing exchange between the Bantu-speaking farming villagers and the groups of hunter-gatherers Clear signs of asymmetric paternal gene flow, from villagers to hunter-gatherers Ancient common ancestry (cf. Quintana-Murci et al. (2008)) –Contact with *R1b-carrying populations (i.e. an non-African Y- chromosome lineage) in Central Africa before and/or during the expansion Evidence for Fang, Punu, Teke and some other Bantu populations This finding sheds new light on the movements and the contacts of these groups Any linguistic traces of these contacts???

15 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics15 The WBE: implications for linguistics There is also evidence for: (3/3) –Strong social and cultural determination of the ethnolinguistic groups examined Lineages are biologically more relevant entities Influence of matrilineal/patrilineal descent… Influence of polygyny… Influence of patrilocality…

16 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics16 The WBE: implications for linguistics And there is evidence against –A Sudanic (“Egyptian”) origin frequently claimed for the Bantu- speaking Fang population (Cameroon, Gabon) The R1b* marker, which is fairly well attested among Fang male individuals, has a much older origin (contact with pops come from northern regions) No linguistic or cultural evidence either

17 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics17 The WBE: implications for linguistics Recent evidence from archaeology –Clist (2005) ; Oslisly Ancient occupation by very small groups of hunter-gatherers Gradual peopling by new type of population –Slow, wave-like, demic spread –Small groups of villagers practising some rudimentary form of agri- culture –Favourable environmental conditions (regression of the forest, etc.) –Effective communication networks –Different cultural traditions: pottery, ironwork, … Migrations following the Atlantic coast and/or inland migrations

18 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics18 According to Clist (2005), following Maley (2001): 2,800 YBP: a sudden de- forestaton due to period of severe drought A savanna corridor and other pathways… Reforestation from 2,100 YBP on (Arrows added here.)

19 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics19 Ongoing and future research Several new perspectives and challenges –The importance of taking into account the ecology of language and the sociocultural environment Population size and population density Geographic position (isolated, etc.) Networks for exchange Nature of exchange: mating, technologies, etc. Extent of multilingualism and language replacement Impact of cultural factors: marriage strategies, descent systems, residence strategies, local (traditonal) slavery, war and conflict, mobility, lifestyle, food resources, etc. Etc.

20 Lyon, May 2008New Directions in Historical Linguistics20 Acknowledgments The organizers of NDHL ESF Funding organisms of the LCGB project (CNRS, MEC, DFG)


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