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Bringing together linguistic and genetic evidence to test the Bantu expansion

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KONGOKING (Political centralization, economic integration and language evolution in Central Africa: An interdisciplinary approach to the early history of the Kongo kingdom.)
Abstract
The expansion of Bantu languages represents one of the most momentous events in the history of Africa. While it is well accepted that Bantu languages spread from their homeland (Cameroon/Nigeria) ~5,000 years ago (ya), there is no consensus about the timing and geographic routes underlying this expansion. Two main models of Bantu expansion have been suggested: The “early-split” model claims that the most recent ancestor of Eastern languages expanded north of the rain forest towards the Great Lakes region ~4,000 ya, while the “late-split” model proposes that Eastern languages diversified from Western languages south of the rain forest ~2,000 ya. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the language dispersal was coupled with the movement of people, raising the question of language shift versus demic diffusion. We use a novel approach taking into account both the spatial and temporal predictions of the two models and formally test these predictions with linguistic and genetic data. Our results show evidence for a demic diffusion in the genetic data, which is confirmed by the correlations between genetic and linguistic distances. While there is little support for the early-split model, the late-split model shows a relatively good fit to the data. Our analyses demonstrate that subsequent contact among languages/populations strongly affected the signal of the initial migration via isolation by distance.
Keywords
LANGUAGES, Y-CHROMOSOME, HISTORY, MTDNA, POPULATIONS, AFRICA, Bantu, lexical data, autosome, Y chromosome, mtDNA, ANGOLA, human migration

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
de Filippo, Cesare, Koen Bostoen, Marc Stoneking, and Brigitte Pakendorf. 2012. “Bringing Together Linguistic and Genetic Evidence to Test the Bantu Expansion.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B-biological Sciences 279 (1741): 3256–3263.
APA
de Filippo, C., Bostoen, K., Stoneking, M., & Pakendorf, B. (2012). Bringing together linguistic and genetic evidence to test the Bantu expansion. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 279(1741), 3256–3263.
Vancouver
1.
de Filippo C, Bostoen K, Stoneking M, Pakendorf B. Bringing together linguistic and genetic evidence to test the Bantu expansion. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES. 2012;279(1741):3256–63.
MLA
de Filippo, Cesare, Koen Bostoen, Marc Stoneking, et al. “Bringing Together Linguistic and Genetic Evidence to Test the Bantu Expansion.” PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES 279.1741 (2012): 3256–3263. Print.
@article{3104755,
  abstract     = {The expansion of Bantu languages represents one of the most momentous events in the history of Africa. While it is well accepted that Bantu languages spread from their homeland (Cameroon/Nigeria) {\texttildelow}5,000 years ago (ya), there is no consensus about the timing and geographic routes underlying this expansion. Two main models of Bantu expansion have been suggested: The {\textquotedblleft}early-split{\textquotedblright} model claims that the most recent ancestor of Eastern languages expanded north of the rain forest towards the Great Lakes region {\texttildelow}4,000 ya, while the {\textquotedblleft}late-split{\textquotedblright} model proposes that Eastern languages diversified from Western languages south of the rain forest {\texttildelow}2,000 ya. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the language dispersal was coupled with the movement of people, raising the question of language shift versus demic diffusion. We use a novel approach taking into account both the spatial and temporal predictions of the two models and formally test these predictions with linguistic and genetic data. Our results show evidence for a demic diffusion in the genetic data, which is confirmed by the correlations between genetic and linguistic distances. While there is little support for the early-split model, the late-split model shows a relatively good fit to the data. Our analyses demonstrate that subsequent contact among languages/populations strongly affected the signal of the initial migration via isolation by distance.},
  author       = {de Filippo, Cesare and Bostoen, Koen and Stoneking, Marc and Pakendorf, Brigitte},
  issn         = {0962-8452},
  journal      = {PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES},
  keyword      = {LANGUAGES,Y-CHROMOSOME,HISTORY,MTDNA,POPULATIONS,AFRICA,Bantu,lexical data,autosome,Y chromosome,mtDNA,ANGOLA,human migration},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1741},
  pages        = {3256--3263},
  title        = {Bringing together linguistic and genetic evidence to test the Bantu expansion},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.0318},
  volume       = {279},
  year         = {2012},
}

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