Holistic understanding of the human past is becoming ever more accessible: new methods in archaeology, genetics and linguistics are allowing inferences about historical processes which have previously been inaccessible to science. The ultimate aim in the mind of many researchers is to understand how the different angles of human history have affected each others. The overarching aim of BEDLAN is to to contribute to the studies of comprehensive human history.
BEDLAN makes its share by adding the historical linguistics knowledge of Uralic languages to the holistic history of Uralic speaker area, and finally adding the Uralic history – the story of Taiga – to the global history of human. This is done via three main lines of study:
- Patterns of linguistic divergence.
- Mechanisms of linguistic divergence.
- Methodological development to study the (potential) joint dispersion and evolution of cultural and genetic history.
Our work in these lines of study is done in three evolutionary scales:
- Finnish dialects and (attributes of) its speaker area
- Finnic languages and their speaker areas
- Uralic language family and its speaker area
These scales provide basis for different evolutionary approaches: Dialect variation within a language is studied with framework of population divergence and population genetics (microevolution), whereas Uralic languages is studied in the framework of phylogenetics and with tools used to study speciation and extinctions (macroevolution). Finnic languages form an interesting dialectal continuum between these ends; they are sister languages, and not fully diverged due to which both micro- and macroevolutionary methods are applied in this level.