About the Indo-European family of languages, a common hypothesis is that it originated in central Asia, somewhere north of the Caspian and/or Black Seas.

Do we have any idea where the Sino-Tibetan family of languages originated, or at least of the Chinese branch of this family?

I believe most of the oldest Chinese prehistoric remains are scattered along or around the valley of the Yellow River. Is that also where it is hypothesised that the oldest forms of the language originated, and/or the oldest place where its Sino-Tibetan ancestral speakers dwelled?

  • No, the definition of Sino-Tibetan is controversial even.
    – sfy
    May 18, 2018 at 8:44
  • 1
    The entire family is from the Tibetan plateau, where groups either stayed in Tibet (Tibetan/Bhutanese), migrated slightly north-east (Qiangic languages, e.g. Tangut), migrated south (Burmese), or took a longish journey east (Chinese). Some migrated southwest, and as a result there are still some scattered varieties of Sino-Tibetan in India. You'll probably get a better answer at Linguistics StackExchange.
    – dROOOze
    May 18, 2018 at 20:41
  • @droooze: Thanks, this could be an interesting answer!
    – Cerberus
    May 22, 2018 at 2:56

1 Answer 1


This wiki page, History of China, provides some "basic" knowledge:

The "earliest written record of Chinese" (aka oracle script) was found in bones (of ox, cow) and shells (of tortoise) in 安陽. It's about 商 dynasty (1600–1046 b.c.).

About the preceding one, 夏 dynasty (bc 2070 - 1600), there was one newest discovery, related to the myth "great flood", and 鯀 & 禹.

This megaflood occurred in 1922 ±28 b.c., in the place of 喇家, in today Qinghai.

A relevant article: Rocks tell story of China's great flood.

have fun :)

  • Thanks for answering, some interesting information! But how about the hypothesised area of origin where the earliest Chinese was spoken? This was presumably a long time before writing was invented.
    – Cerberus
    May 18, 2018 at 16:35
  • well, the chinese page of the first link had more info: zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hk/中国历史 there's a proposal "from egypt" zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hk/中国历史#出埃及説 . my guess (without proves, evidences) would be qinghai (amdo in tibetan's view), or central asia. May 18, 2018 at 17:21
  • OK interesting!
    – Cerberus
    May 22, 2018 at 2:56

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