• The Sino-Tibetan language family is one of the world’s largest
    and most prominent families, spoken by nearly 1.4 billion people.
    Despite the importance of the Sino-Tibetan languages, their pre-history remains controversial, with ongoing debate about when
    and where they originated. To shed light on this debate we
    develop a database of comparative linguistic data, and apply the
    linguistic comparative method to identify sound correspondences
    and establish cognates. We then use phylogenetic methods to
    infer the relationships among these languages and estimate the
    age of their origin and homeland. Our findings point to Sino-Tibetan originating with north Chinese millet farmers around
    7200 B.P. and suggest a link to the late Cishan and the early
    Yangshao cultures.