In 1998 the author published ‘Genetics, linguistics and prehistory: thinking big and thinking straight’, a critique of late twentieth-century attempts to synthesize the disciplines of genetics, linguistics and archaeology. This paper assesses subsequent progress, using examples from various parts of the world, including Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Frisia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Micronesia, Portugal, Spain and the Canary Islands. The growing importance of mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome, rather than classical population genetics, is emphasized. The author argues that ancient DNA and early linguistic data should be used more. Languages mentioned include Aquitanian, Basque, Celtiberian, Etruscan, Finnish, Hungarian, Iberian, Lepontic, Lusitanian, Pictish, Raetic, ‘Tartessian’, Thracian and the Ladin dialect of the Italian Alps. Aspects of the ancient linguistic geography of Scotland and the Iberian peninsula are discussed, as is the difficulty of deciding the direction of spread of Indo-European and non-Indo-European languages. The potential of ancient place and personal names is illustrated from Celtic.