Austro-Asiatic languages

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The Austro-Asiatic languages are a large language family of Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India and Bangladesh. The name comes from the Latin word for "south" and the Greek name of Asia, hence "South Asia". Among these languages, only Khmer, Vietnamese, and Mon have a long established recorded history, and only Vietnamese and Khmer have official status (in Vietnam and Cambodia, respectively). The rest of the languages are spoken by minority groups. Ethnologue identifies 168 Austro-Asiatic languages. These are traditionally divided into two families, Mon-Khmer and Munda. Two recent classifications have abandoned Mon-Khmer as a valid node, although this is tentative and not generally accepted.

Austro-Asiatic languages have a disjunct distribution across India, Bangladesh and Southeast Asia, separated by regions where other languages are spoken. It is widely believed[citation needed] that the Austro-Asiatic languages are the autochthonous languages of Southeast Asia and the eastern Indian subcontinent, and that the other languages of the region, including the Indo-European, Kradai, Dravidian, Austronesian, and Sino-Tibetan languages, are the result of later migrations of people.

Contents

Morphology

The Austro-Asiatic languages are well known for having a "sesqui-syllabic" pattern, with basic nouns and verbs consisting of a reduced minor syllable plus a full syllable. Many of them also have infixes.

Proto-language

Much work has been done on the reconstruction of Proto-Mon-Khmer in the Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary. However, very little work has been done on Proto-Austro-Asiatic itself, since the Munda languages are not well documented.

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