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Superfamily of about 150 languages spoken by close to 90 million physically and culturally very diverse people in South and Southeast Asia. Today most scholars believe that it is subdivided into two families, Munda and Mon-Khmer. The present fragmented distribution of Austroasiatic languages is most likely the result of relatively recent incursions by Indo-Aryan, Sino-Tibetan, Tai, and Austronesian-speaking peoples. In prehistoric times Austroasiatic languages most likely extended over a much broader and more continuous area, including much of what is now southeastern China. Other than Vietnamese and Khmer, no Austroasiatic language is an official national language.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Austroasiatic languages, visit Britannica.com.
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