DDL - UMR 5596
ISH - Bat C
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69007 Lyon
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historical linguistics


The synthetic vision of the evolution of human populations, renewed since the 1980s in archaeology and population genetics, often relies on linguistic controversies, conclusions or data. This poses a certain number of methodological problems, concerning how different types of data should be reconciled, for example, linguistic data versus morphological or genetic data. This unifying perspective can be formulated along two major issues: (1) the issue of congruence between these different data and/or the evolutionary histories inferred from them using the proper methodologies of each of the scientific fields concerned (2) the issue of the possible methodological transpositions between these fields.

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This project takes part in the general and interdisciplinary framework gathering languages and genes, following the path opened by the pioneering work by L. Cavalli-Sforza. The baseline of this research trend is that the joint study of the language and genetic structure of a population allows a better investigation of the historical contingencies it has experienced in the past, and also of the contacts it had with related or unrelated neighbouring populations.

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Since the early 80s, a series of scientific studies, initiated in particular by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, have unveiled rather surprising parallels between genetic and linguistic trees (classifications). The objective of the present project is to check the relevance as well as the extent of such parallels for a well-defined case: the Bantu expansion.

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