April 29, 2013

Okhotsk and Ainu: linguistic connection?

A genetic connection was hypothesized in the third of the following related links on the basis of ancient Jomon mtDNA that seemed to lack an element of the modern Ainu gene pool.

From the current paper:
If we accept a view that transmission of language may be gender-specific [50]–[52], then we are able to formulate at least two hypotheses for the specific processes of the Ainu language origin. Because Y-chromosome haplogroup D is thought to represent Jomon male ancestry, the predominance of that particular haplogroup in the Ainu (75–87.5%) implies that the majority of Ainu male ancestry is from the Jomon [53], [54], whereas a heavy mixture of mtDNA haplogroups indicates that a significant proportion of the Ainu female ancestry is from the Okhotsk (excluding 35.3% of mtDNA haplogroups that the Ainu share with other neighboring populations, 39.4% of the remaining female heritage is shared exclusively with the Okhotsk and the rest is a mixture of both Jomon and Okhotsk [18], [47], [54]). If we thus assume male-specific language transmission for the Ainu, the first hypothesis for the processes behind the Ainu language origin could be that proto-Ainu arose from a large number of Jomon males who intermarried with Okhotsk females in northern Hokkaido, and subsequently spread to the rest of region. Similarly, if we assume that the transmission of Ainu language corresponds with female ancestry, the second hypothesis could be that proto-Ainu was spoken by the incoming Okhotsk females who merged with the preexisting Jomon males. Based on these observations, we propose that one potential way of understanding how language change occurred for the Ainu is to estimate which gender was more influential when early Ainu people established family membership. This may be carried out indirectly by revealing the signature of historical post-marital residence pattern via estimating the degrees of genetic variation in their Y-chromosome and mtDNA [55] as well as reconstructing ancestral post-marital residence rules from regional cultural variation [56]. Investigating which model of language change [57] is relevant to the Ainu is a direction that deserves more attention, and acquiring an accurate description of how language change occurred for the Ainu would allow us to make further inferences about the deeper history of the human lineage that once thrived in northern Japan.
I would think that a fairly recent major event of Okhotsk+Jomon=Ainu would be detectable both by ancient DNA analysis and by the study of the modern Ainu. It is certainly fascinating that the Ainu rather than being a bona fide relic of the earliest inhabitants of Japan may actually have complex ancestry themselves, and in the very recent past at that.

Related:

  1. Craniometry of the Ainu
  2. Metric and non-metric variation of Ainu
  3. Ancient mtDNA of Hokkaido Jomon
  4. Ainu/Ryukyuan paper

Evolution of the Ainu Language in Space and Time

Sean Lee, Toshikazu Hasegawa

Languages evolve over space and time. Illuminating the evolutionary history of language is important because it provides a unique opportunity to shed light on the population history of the speakers. Spatial and temporal aspects of language evolution are particularly crucial for understanding demographic history, as they allow us to identify when and where the languages originated, as well as how they spread across the globe. Here we apply Bayesian phylogeographic methods to reconstruct spatiotemporal evolution of the Ainu language: an endangered language spoken by an indigenous group that once thrived in northern Japan. The conventional dual-structure model has long argued that modern Ainu are direct descendants of a single, Pleistocene human lineage from Southeast Asia, namely the Jomon people. In contrast, recent evidence from archaeological, anthropological and genetic evidence suggest that the Ainu are an outcome of significant genetic and cultural contributions from Siberian hunter-gatherers, the Okhotsk, who migrated into northern Hokkaido around 900–1600 years ago. Estimating from 19 Ainu language varieties preserved five decades ago, our analysis shows that they are descendants of a common ancestor who spread from northern Hokkaido around 1300 years ago. In addition to several lines of emerging evidence, our phylogeographic analysis strongly supports the hypothesis that recent expansion of the Okhotsk to northern Hokkaido had a profound impact on the origins of the Ainu people and their culture, and hence calls for a refinement to the dual-structure model.

Link

14 comments:

terryt said...

"It is certainly fascinating that the Ainu rather than being a bona fide relic of the earliest inhabitants of Japan may actually have complex ancestry themselves, and in the very recent past at that".

Actually I would think that option to be far more likely than that they remained isolated in Japan from the moment they first arrived there. I firmly believe we under-estimate the amount of prehistoric population movements, including those involving Homo erectus and even Homo habilis.

Va_Highlander said...

"Investigating which model of language change is relevant to the Ainu is a direction that deserves more attention, and acquiring an accurate description of how language change occurred for the Ainu would allow us to make further inferences about the deeper history of the human lineage that once thrived in northern Japan."

I think that's a very interesting question in general. I've never understood why the "mother tongue" should be automatically assumed to correlate with y-DNA.

terryt said...

"I've never understood why the 'mother tongue' should be automatically assumed to correlate with y-DNA".

And it seems not be the case from the eastern Austronesian languages. The language looks to have been originally associated with the mt-DNA B4 line rather than from the Y-DNA C2 line.

German Dziebel said...

If the Ainu language was brought by Okhotsk people 1500 years ago and imposed upon Jomon populations, it would be transparently related to some Siberian languages. But it is not. Grammatically (polysynthesis) it's Paleosibirian and Amerindian but the similarities end here. I'd rather see Y-DNA hg C3* as product of the Okhotsk migration (http://anthropogenesis.kinshipstudies.org/2013/04/y-dna-hg-c3-in-south-america-and-putative-ancient-transpacific-contacts/). The Ainu language must be older than that.

Jim said...

VA,
"I've never understood why the "mother tongue" should be automatically assumed to correlate with y-DNA."

"Mother tongue" is just a manner of speaking.

Garifuna is an originally Cariban language with a huge infusion of an Awarak langauge due to capture-intermarriage with Awarak women. There are Carib words men use alongside Awarak words that everyone uses (because boys learn them from their mothers like the girls do.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garifuna_language

Va_Highlander said...

Jim:

"'Mother tongue 'is just a manner of speaking."

Point taken, but it seems a bit more than just a manner of speaking, as indeed Arawak rather neatly illustrates. Such bilingualism is not that uncommon. My mother-in-law is bilingual, raised by a Nicaraguan mother, who spoke little English, and a Scottish father who spoke no Spanish. Her first language is Spanish and, though her English is extremely good, she still speaks with a Nica accent. The same was true of her late brother.

terryt:

"And it seems not be the case from the eastern Austronesian languages."

Which is precisely what I should expect, at least before the rise of a state bureaucracy or something similar.

eurologist said...

You only need to look as far as English, in which many words used at banquets, court, and important business are of Norman ("Norman-French") origin, while those used in child rearing and in the kitchen are of Germanic origin, and the grammar (what you learn first from your mother and what is much more difficult to change later, compared to vocabulary) is Germanic.

Ebizur said...

German Dziebel wrote,

"If the Ainu language was brought by Okhotsk people 1500 years ago and imposed upon Jomon populations, it would be transparently related to some Siberian languages. But it is not."

If the Japonic language was brought by Yayoi people 2500 years ago and imposed upon Jomon populations, it would be transparently related to some East Asian languages. But it is not.

Or is this line of reasoning mistaken? Perhaps we are all too fond of Occam's razor and averse to postulating a migration of a linguistic community followed by (or concomitant with) its total extinction in its erstwhile homeland.

Annie Mouse said...

And in the case of language this makes a lot of sense to me. You learn the language of your teacher, typically Mom.

But there are other effects. English became the "lingua franca" in part initially because the English traders were notoriously crap at other languages. And they quickly learned that having the contract in your own native language gives you an advantage. Nothing to do with mothers or patriarchy, more to do with canny ignorance.

The power to be arrogant about language helped also. If you hold all the cards you can insist on your own language. This is the way a Y chromosome is supposed to spread language, by male conquest, like in Latin America. Or perhaps that was more to do with the uniting effect of a common language, as was the case in India. The common language of trade having obvious advantages over the babel of many tongues.

I have seen and read stories about immigrant families in the USA actively choosing to raise their children in English rather than their own language, because they see it as giving the children an advantage. Its always the mothers choice to do this (or joint). So power only works to transfer language if the mother sees an advantage, and also there has to be an education system to facilitate it. Mom the teacher can only teach what she knows. The first South American to learn Spanish was likely Pizarro's wife Inés Huaylas Yupanqui. And of course there is Cortez's Dona Marina who was his main translator.


But power is not always enough. In Norman England the AngloSaxon language appeared to die out completely before becoming remarkably resurrected from apparently nowhere a few generations down the line. Of course in the Norman period all documentation was in Norman French, the language of the ruling class. But the aristocracy still needed to speak to the peasants. The peasants had no real mechanism to learn Norman, so the rulers had to learn the local languages. And their sons found it ultimately more useful to to speak the language of their nursemaids and workers. Mothers/nursemaids and ignorance triumph again.

Latin, despite the heroic effort of the catholic church, did not take either. Not sure if this is a Y chromosome or mitochondrial effect here. The mother church ruled by men. They even played the education card with no ultimate effect. Perhaps if the priests had been less celibate it might have worked (facetious). Not sure why this did not work, Latin was all pervasive and it also dominated the education system. Failure to educate women maybe?

I think this paper is making a flawed assumption in assuming the dominant sex at the time of the merger between the Jomon (male and female) and Ohkhotsk (women) influenced the language. Patriarchy does not always equate to language transfer, as is the case for the Norman English.

What is more interesting to me is that it appears that the Jomon culture (eg tattooing of exagerated lips etc) and Jomon men appear to have overrun an Ohkhotsk community in Japan. Jomon men and women absorbed a cohort of Ohkhotsk women to form the Ainu. Did they co-exist previously? Or were the Jomon new arrivals to Japan at the time, with the Ohkhotsk being the indigenous group?

Also did the Jomon men kill the Ohkhotsk men, or did the Ohkhotsk women simply come to value a much larger-sized male (the Jomon) to the genetic disadvantage of their own menfolk?

And yes, I am aware this has worked out to be an ultra feminine perspective. :/

German Dziebel said...

"German Dziebel wrote,

"If the Ainu language was brought by Okhotsk people 1500 years ago and imposed upon Jomon populations, it would be transparently related to some Siberian languages. But it is not."

If the Japonic language was brought by Yayoi people 2500 years ago and imposed upon Jomon populations, it would be transparently related to some East Asian languages. But it is not.

Or is this line of reasoning mistaken? Perhaps we are all too fond of Occam's razor and averse to postulating a migration of a linguistic community followed by (or concomitant with) its total extinction in its erstwhile homeland."

It's a good point, Ebizur. It would be fascinating if Y-DNA hg D in Ainu ends up NOT being the molecular correlate of the Ainu language.

Annie Mouse said...


"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"

And in the case of language this makes a lot of sense to me. You learn the language of your teacher, typically Mom.

But there are other effects. English became the "lingua franca" in part initially because the English traders were notoriously crap at other languages. And they quickly learned that having the contract in your own native language gives you an advantage. Nothing to do with mothers or patriarchy, more to do with canny ignorance.

The power to be arrogant about language helped also. If you hold all the cards you can insist on your own language. This is the way a Y chromosome is supposed to spread language, by male conquest, like in Latin America. Or perhaps that was more to do with the uniting effect of a common language, as was the case in India. The common language of trade having obvious advantages over the babel of many tongues.

I have seen and read stories about immigrant families in the USA actively choosing to raise their children in English rather than their own language, because they see it as giving the children an advantage. Its always the mothers choice to do this (or joint). So power only works to transfer language if the mother sees an advantage, and also there has to be an education system to facilitate it. Mom the teacher can only teach what she knows. The first South American to learn Spanish was likely Pizarro's wife Inés Huaylas Yupanqui. And of course there is Cortez's Dona Marina who was his main translator.


But power is not always enough. In Norman England the AngloSaxon language appeared to die out completely before becoming remarkably resurrected from apparently nowhere a few generations down the line. Of course in the Norman period all documentation was in Norman French, the language of the ruling class. But the aristocracy still needed to speak to the peasants. The peasants had no real mechanism to learn Norman, so the rulers had to learn the local languages. And their sons found it ultimately more useful to to speak the language of their nursemaids and workers. Mothers/nursemaids and ignorance triumph again.

Latin, despite the heroic effort of the catholic church, did not take either. Not sure if this is a Y chromosome or mitochondrial effect here. The mother church ruled by men. They even played the education card with no ultimate effect. Perhaps if the priests had been less celibate it might have worked (facetious). Not sure why this did not work, Latin was all pervasive and it also dominated the education system. Failure to educate women maybe?

I think this paper is making a flawed assumption in assuming the dominant sex at the time of the merger between the Jomon (male and female) and Ohkhotsk (women) influenced the language. Patriarchy does not always equate to language transfer, as is the case for the Norman English.

What is more interesting to me is that it appears that the Jomon culture (eg tattooing of exagerated lips etc) and Jomon men appear to have overrun an Ohkhotsk community in Japan. Jomon men and women absorbed a cohort of Ohkhotsk women to form the Ainu. Did they co-exist previously? Or were the Jomon new arrivals to at the time, with the Ohkhotsk being the indigenous group to that particular area?

Also did the Jomon men kill the Ohkhotsk men, or did the Ohkhotsk women simply come to value a much larger-sized male (the Jomon) to the genetic disadvantage of their own menfolk?

And yes, I am aware this has worked out to be an ultra feminine perspective. :/

terryt said...

"And yes, I am aware this has worked out to be an ultra feminine perspective".

But very valid points.

"Also did the Jomon men kill the Ohkhotsk men, or did the Ohkhotsk women simply come to value a much larger-sized male (the Jomon) to the genetic disadvantage of their own menfolk?"

The Y-chromosome can take over without killing all the others. It would depend on what ecological niche each group was using. One may have supported a greater population which ultimately came to dominate. But we have finished up with a variety i of Y- haplogroups in Japan anyway. D and C1 quite possibly have separate origins in Japan. C3 is possibly a later arrival but pre-Yayoi. My bet is that O3 is Yayoi but O2b may be slightly earlier. So it is quite possible that no prehistoric Y-DNA haplogroups in Japan have been wiped out.

"It would be fascinating if Y-DNA hg D in Ainu ends up NOT being the molecular correlate of the Ainu language".

Quite possibly it is not. But I think we can assume there were several pre-Yayoi languages in Japan anyway. What we now know as 'Ainu' is simply the language that survived into modern times in Hokkaido, and further north.

Tresi said...

people of Jomon are direct ancestors of modern Ainu, Okhostk culture is agreat fake, it's artificially created archaeological culture, well, linguistically Ainu are of Jomonwhich is clearly seen from the fact that there are many toponyms of Ainu origin in the places where Jomon sites are found but where have never lived so called historical Ainu.

Tresi said...

Ainu r related to Jomon. it's proved by the fact there are many places with toponyms of Ainu origin where Jomon sites are found. And Okhotsk culture is nothing but a great fake.