Study says Japanese-Korean-Turkish language group may trace to ancient China, showing culture 'transcends natl boundaries'
Published: Nov 12, 2021 04:44 PM
File photo: CFP

File photo: CFP

Research conducted by scientists has found that the origin of the Transeurasian language family including Japanese, Korean, Turkish and Mongolian may trace back to Northeast China's Liaohe River valley from around 9,000 years ago. Combing archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence, the study shows hundreds of millions people speak the above languages may share common ancestors: inhabitants who engaged millet farming. 

Experts said the research shows the science narrative of "community with a shared future for mankind" that China has consistently upheld, as well as the complexity and richness in the development and mixing of different human languages and cultures, which, from an exoteric point of view, a lesson for people fought with each other over extreme-nationalism issues. 

The study says the Transeurasian language family originated from the Liaohe River valley, which covers modern day Jilin, Liaoning provinces in Northeast China, in addition to parts of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in North China. With farming ancestors moved around in North and East Asia, languages spread to Siberia, Korean Peninsula, and in what is now Japanese territory across the sea over thousands of years. 

Conducted by linguists, archaeologists, and geneticists from Belgium, China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea, the study illustrated that the early spread of Transeurasian speakers was driven by agriculture. As ancient farmers developed better skills in millet farming and expanding their population, their community met and mixed with other groups, developing different new languages and cultures, but retaining a "still-recognizable linguistic backbone."

This study once again shows that culture and language transcend current national boundaries, and that culture is integrated with each other through a process of formation and development, and there is no single isolated identity, Chen Baoya, a linguist from Peking University, told the Global Times on Friday.  

Millet is believed as a crop that represents the turning point in the transition from a hunter gatherer way of life to early farming communities.

"Accepting that the roots of one's language, culture or people lie beyond the present national boundaries is a kind of surrender of identity, which some people are not yet prepared to make," comparative linguist Martine Robbeets, was cited by Reuters as saying, who is also the leader of the archaeolinguistic research group.

In the past, countries with similar cultural origins such as Japan, South Korea and China witnessed disputes over cultural subjects among netizens, such as the name of food and the origin of festivals. Experts said extreme nationalists in some countries should realize the complexity and richness of culture development, which the recent study has outlined.