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Friday Forum: Mark Alves (VIRTUAL)

March 11 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Southeast Asian Ethnohistory through Historical Linguistics and Archaeology – Contributions and Limits of Lexical Data

Mark J. Alves, Ph.D. (Linguistics)
Professor in the Dept. of ELAP, Linguistics and Communication Studies
Montgomery College (Rockville, Maryland)

Please click here to watch a recording of this lecture.

The goal of this talk is to present ways in which historical linguistics in greater Southeast Asia can benefit from and aid in research in archaeology and ethnohistory broadly. Southeast Asia (aka Indo-China) is known for its complex sociocultural mixing during waves of incoming groups through both settlements and trade from the Neolithic period into the era of SEAsian kingdoms. Exploration of cultural domains through proto-language lexical reconstructions, combined with information gleaned from historical phonology and research on language contact and loanwords, can provide insights into regional ethnohistory. There are, of course, limits to such data, but it is also to the detriment of ethnohistorical and ethnoarchaeological research to ignore what linguistic data has to offer. This presentation will cover the following: (a) key aspects, data (e.g., digital databases), and methods (e.g., the requirement of recurring phonological patterns) of SEASian historical linguistics in relation to regional history and archaeology; (b) a brief overview of the matching of language families in SEAsia with archaeohistorical periods; and (c) presentation of several examples of how etymological and historical phonological research sheds light on SEAsian ethnohistory. These examples will include lexical evidence of the late Neolithic culture, rice production in northern Vietnam, the impact of Chinese on terms for metals in the region, numeral systems of Tai languages versus Vietnamese, and the regional spread of words from the Khmer kingdoms of the 1st to 2nd mill. CE. Caveats regarding the data will also be presented.

Mark Alves is a professor at Montgomery College in Maryland and is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. He has published widely on historical and comparative linguistics of Southeast Asia with a focus on Vietnamese and the Austroasiatic language family. His dozens of publications have explored regional language contact in greater Southeast Asia; typological linguistics, especially morphology in Austroasiatic; loanwords, especially Sino-Vietnamese and regional Chinese loanwords; ethnohistorical linguistics, including matters of metallurgy and metal implements, household objects and activities, domesticated birds, color terms, kinship terms, grammatical words, among other categories. His research agenda has increasingly incorporated an interdisciplinary approach involving linguistic, historical/textual, archaeological, and ethnographic data.

This event is free and open to the public. A recording will be available on the CSEAS YouTube channel following the event.


March 11
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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