The Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) area includes Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia, along with parts of China south of the Yangtze. A peripheral zone that includes Northeast India is sometimes included. Core MSEA, encompassing Indochina and Thailand, can be distinguished from a greater MSEA area shading outward in all directions. This entry provides an overview of the history and features of the languages of this area.


The history of human movement, contact, and culture and language diversification in MSEA is complex. Many researchers hold the view that the people of MSEA once spoke Austroasiatic languages in a continuous distribution, and that when speakers of Sinitic, Tai, Tibeto-Burman, and other languages spread into the area during the last few thousand years, they created the ...

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