General Patterns of Migrations General Discussion

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Patterns of Migrations

Migration is a process of resettlement of group E outside its traditional territory.

1. Migrations are seen as a major reason of human spread across the globe. People moved to settle on the unoccupied territories or the territories already occupied by other groups. Some territories (e.g. Anatolia) have been a destination of multiple waves of migrations for thousands of years. Usually a language of a modern local population represents the most recent wave.

  • How can one detect a migration without historical records?
  • How to distinguish a migration from contact-determined similarities?
  • How can we identify and stratify multiple prehistoric migrations?

2. Sometimes, languages or physical characteristics of population can be used as 'markers' of prehistoric migrations.

  • Are there any other markers?
  • Can one use the spread of certain cultivated plants or agriculture in general as 'markers' of migration?
  • What one can say about the spread of animals? Can for example, the appearance of the dingo in Australia be regarded as a 'marker' of a migration?

3. A traditional community is tightly linked to the environment it inhibits which affects all aspects of the community's life.

  • What factors cause a community to abandon its original habitat?
  • How people survived in a new climatic or ecological zone?
  • Were there any ecological restrictions to prehistoric migrations?

4. Migrations can be conducted by a monolingual group or by a conglomerate of groups who speak different languages.

  • Are the outcomes of monolingual and multilingual migrations different?

5. In many cases we find that a language has spread from a very restricted area to a large region, replacing all or nearly all the other languages spoken in the region.

  • What kind of migration caused such spread?

6. Recent discoveries in comparative linguistics have demonstrated that practically all languages of Eurasia, Northern Africa, Western Austronesia and most of Oceania belong to one of the four super-families (Eurasiatic, Afroasiatic, Austric, and Dene-Caucasian). S. Starostin put forward a hypothesis that these four super-families are genetically related thus forming a very ancient language super-super-family, called "Borean". The Amerind" languages of the Americas may also belong to Borean.

The spread of the Proto-Borean language and its descendants must have occurred on a gigantic scale, with no match to anything known so far. The Borean hypothesis implies that Proto-Borean was spoken about 15 thousand years ago on a rather small territory somewhere in the Old World. Certain conditions (which remain unknown) triggered the original migration(s) from that homeland. Further movements of humans have brought the Borean languages across the world.

  • Is there any support for the Borean hypothesis outside linguistics?
  • What kind of migration could it be?
  • What triggered it?
  • Why, with a few exceptions, only members of the Borean language family have survived?