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About the project

This project, which is launched on 1 January 2021 and ends on June 2027, will bring together two teams of researchers, one of linguists and the other of geneticists.


The Gansu-Qinghai area was the most important migration corridor between Central and East Asia. These languages and populations have competed, mixed and merged for ages. The present Project will study language mixture and language replacement patterns in the Gansu-Qinghai area, which geographically constitutes a natural demarcation between nomadic herders and farmers. In this intense contact area, home to nomadic languages and populations, Sinitic (Han) languages started to resemble non-Han languages, adopting similar syntactic means, while Yugur languages (Western Yugur belongs to Turkic language group and Eastern Yugur belongs to Mongolic language group), spoken by typical nomadic populations, kept their syntax relatively intact. The mixing degree of languages and populations in this area remains unclear, and in-depth research with an interdisciplinary approach is necessary.

The Project will determine the linguistic situation in this anthropological corridor by targeting two nomadic languages (Western and Eastern Yugur) and a variety of Sinitic languages. The analysis of language mixing and language replacement processes will be based on quantified data modeling, part of which will come from molecular anthropology and other fields such as history and archeology. This interdisciplinary approach will offer a global vision of language and population mixing in the Gansu-Qinghai area and a living sample of language preservation or loss due to different lifestyles and cultures.

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