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Millet vs rice: an evaluation of the farming/language dispersal hypothesis in the Korean context

  • Jangsuk Kim (a1) and Jinho Park (a2)

Abstract

The ‘farming/language dispersal hypothesis’ was originally developed to explain the spread of the Neolithic economy and material culture into Europe. Recently, this hypothesis has been applied towards explaining the dispersal and divergence of East Asian languages. However, interpretations depend on what prehistoric cultivar is chosen by linguists as having been related with the spread of language. In understanding the appearance of the proto-Koreanic and proto-Japonic languages in Korea, millet and rice, which appeared in Korea around 3500 and 1300 BCE, respectively, have been emphasized by linguists. We assess these linguistic arguments. We first review how European archaeologists have understood the spread of farming into Europe, where the farming/language dispersal hypothesis was originally developed, and how archaeology has wrestled with the issues of diffusion and migration. Then we move on to evaluating linguistic hypotheses about the dispersal and split of proto-Koreanic and proto-Japonic. Our evaluation of the ‘millet hypothesis’ and the ‘rice hypothesis’ suggests that rice is a more plausible candidate for explaining the dispersal of proto-Koreanic to Korea. Meanwhile, viewing the introduction of slender daggers to Korea as another dispersal of language to Korea needs more scrutiny.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: jangsuk@snu.ac.kr

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Millet vs rice: an evaluation of the farming/language dispersal hypothesis in the Korean context

  • Jangsuk Kim (a1) and Jinho Park (a2)

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