French Indochina presents a veritable mosaic of languages, among which are representatives of all the major language families of Southeast Asia. This country has long served as a geographical cul-desac for the continental mass of Asia and thus has received a variety of cultural and linguistic influences, producing one of the most complex ethnological pictures to be found anywhere in the world. Within its confines may be found languages belonging to the Mon-Khmer, Malayo-Polynesian, Annamese-Müöng, Thai, Kadai, Miao-Yao, Tibeto-Burman, and Chinese stocks. Generally the centers of distribution for these language stocks lie outside Indochina, which has received only a trickle of speakers from linguistic spillage across its borders; only one of these stocks (Annamese-Müöng) is an exclusively native product of Indochina. Little is known of most of these languages, and even the more important among them (Annamese, Khmer, Lao) have not yet received adequate modern linguistic treatment. The main outlines are sufficiently clear, however, and afford us data on the cultural history of the country.

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