To reconstruct aspects of human demographic history, linguistics and genetics complement each other, reciprocally suggesting testable hypotheses on population relationships and interactions. Relying on a linguistic comparative method based on syntactic data, here we focus on the non-straightforward relation of genes and languages among Finno-Ugric (FU) speakers, in comparison to their Indo-European (IE) and Altaic (AL) neighbors. Syntactic analysis, in agreement with the indications of more traditional linguistic levels, supports at least three distinct clusters, corresponding to these three Eurasian families; yet, the outliers of the FU group show linguistic convergence with their geographical neighbors. By analyzing genome-wide data in both ancient and contemporary populations, we uncovered remarkably matching patterns, with north-western FU speakers linguistically and genetically closer in parallel degrees to their IE-speaking neighbors, and eastern FU speakers to AL speakers. Therefore, our analysis indicates that plausible cross-family linguistic interference effects were accompanied, and possibly caused, by recognizable demographic processes. In particular, based on the comparison of modern and ancient genomes, our study identified the Pontic-Caspian steppes as the possible origin of the demographic processes that led to the expansion of FU languages into Europe.
More rule than exception: Parallel evidence of ancient migrations in grammars and genomes of finno-ugric speakers / Santos, P.; Gonzalez-Fortes, G.; Trucchi, E.; Ceolin, A.; Cordoni, G.; Guardiano, C.; Longobardi, G.; Barbujani, G.. - In: GENES. - ISSN 2073-4425. - 11:12(2020), pp. 1-20. [10.3390/genes11121491]