Their inhabitants, and more precisely the Mon-Khmer
speaking groups who are the only uplanders seen as indigenous across this region, are generally considered to be former lowland populations who were displaced by the immigration of more technologically advanced peoples--such as Tai-speaking groups in the case of Laos and Thailand.
In his chapter, Nicolas Revire carefully records all the traces of the Old Mon, hybrid Mon-Khmer
, Pali and Sanskrit inscriptions that indicate Buddhist cults centred on rituals for merit (punna) and donations (dana), and geared to tuning the adept's "conditioned" karmic balance for the next life.
The longhouse--the characteristic residential structure throughout most (but not all) of Borneo--appears nowhere else in the AN world except with one or two Sumatran groups, and among Chamic speakers in Vietnam and Cambodia who have been in intimate contact for centuries with their Mon-Khmer
neighbors, some of whom also construct them (Lebar, Hickey, and Musgrave 1964).
Finally, a comparison with Mon-Khmer
data could have shed a different light on some of Wolff's reconstructions.
Ethnic groups (2005 Census identified 49 ethnic groups): Tai-Kadai language family (6 ethnic groups)--65% Austro-Asiatic (Mon-Khmer
and Viet-Muong) language family (30 ethnic groups)--24% Hmong-Yao (2 ethnic groups)--8%; Tibeto-Burman (8 ethnic groups)--3%; other ethnic groups (including Vietnamese and Chinese)--0.9%.
It was first noticed by French travelers and missionaries in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries, and early opinion placed it erroneously in the Mon-Khmer
family, although the French comparativist Andre-Georges Haudricourt, in a series of articles beginning in 1958, soon demonstrated that Saek is a Tai dialect--more specifically, and surprisingly given its geographic location, that it is a member of the Northern Tai dialect group.
The other neighbor, Cambodia, speaks Khmer which is a Mon-Khmer
This region of the East Khasi Hills in northeast India's Meghalaya state is almost exclusively Khasi territory, and the Khasis, a Mon-Khmer
group originating from Southeast Asia, favour isolated valleys such as this one for their villages and betel nut plantations.
Some specific chapter topics covered include local drift and areal convergence in the restructuring of MSEA languages, the Mekong-Mamberamo linguistic area, and morphological functions among Mon-Khmer
While much of Burma's complex ethnic history remains unknown, four main ethnographic lines of descent are recognized: Mon-Khmer
, Burman/Rakhine, Shan/Tai and Tibeto-Burman.
Little research has yet been done on this question, but it is likely that there have been at least two layers each of Austroasiatic (Mon-Khmer
) and Austronesian input--as also suggested long ago by Blagden (1894).
Ethnic groups: Tai-Kadai language family (6 ethnic groups)--66.2%; Austro-Asiatic (Mon-Khmer
and Viet-Muong) language family (30 ethnic groups)--22.8%; Hmong-Yao (2 ethnic groups)--7.4%; Tibeto-Burman (8 ethnic groups)--2.7%; other ethnic groups (including Vietnamese and Chinese)--0.9%.