Austroasiatic languages

The Austroasiatic languages /ˌɔːstroʊ.eɪʒiˈætɪk/, also known as Mon–Khmer /ˌmoʊnkəˈmɛər/, are a large language family of Mainland Southeast Asia, also scattered throughout India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the southern border of China, with around 117 million speakers. The name Austroasiatic comes from a combination of the Latin words for "South" and "Asia", hence "South Asia". Of these languages, only Vietnamese, Khmer, and Mon have a long-established recorded history, and only Vietnamese and Khmer have official status as modern national languages (in Vietnam and Cambodia, respectively). In Myanmar, the Wa language is the de facto official language of Wa State. Santali is recognized as a regional language of India. The rest of the languages are spoken by minority groups and have no official status. Ethnologue identifies 168 Austroasiatic languages. These form thirteen established families (plus perhaps Shompen, which is poorly attested, as a fourteenth), which have traditionally been grouped into two, as Mon–Khmer and Munda. However, one recent classification posits three groups (Munda, Nuclear Mon-Khmer and Khasi–Khmuic) while another has abandoned Mon–Khmer as a taxon altogether, making it synonymous with the larger family. Austroasiatic languages have a disjunct distribution across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Southeast Asia, separated by regions where other languages are spoken. They appear to be the extant autochthonous languages of Southeast Asia (if Andaman islands are not included), with the neighboring Indo-Aryan, Kra–Dai, Hmong-Mien, Dravidian, Austronesian, and Sino-Tibetan languages being the result of later migrations.


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