Prof. Dr. Dan Xu Song


Family name, First name: XU-SONG, Dan


2022 – Head of ERC project at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany



  • 2003 – 2022 Professor at the INALCO’s Chinese Department (Institut des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, France).
  • 1991– Associate researcher at CRLAO (Centre de recherches linguistique sur l’Asie Orientale, CNRS) in France.
  • 1987 – 1991 Researcher at the Institute of Linguistics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).


  • 2020 – 2025. PI of the ERC-2019-AdG 883700-TRAM Tracing language and population mixing in the Gansu-Qinghai area.
  • 2021 – 2023. Co-PI of the PHC PROCORE PROJECT N° 46864RH (France/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme)
  • 2016 – 2019. Co-PI of the project YB1624A127 The Tangwang language in Preserving endangered languages in China, subsidized by the Ministry of Education of China.
  • 2012 – 2016. PI of the ANR-12-BSH2-0004-01 Do languages and genes correlate? -A case study in Northwestern. (ANR is the National Agency of Research in France, equivalent to the National Science Foundation in the USA)
  • 2009 – 2014. Awarded by the IUF Space and quantification–Towards diachronic and cross-linguistic approaches.
  • 2006 – 2010. PI of the ANR-06-BLAN0259 Quantification and Plurality–Plural and Personal Pronouns in Asian Languages.
  • 2003 – 2006. PI of the ACI-03326 L’espace et ses représentations en Asie Orientale à travers divers langages : verbal, gestuel, anthropologique et bouddhique.


For publications, see the website of the ERC project


Summary of ERC-2019-AdG 883700-TRAM

Tracing language and population mixing in the Gansu-Qinghai area. (2021-2027)


Chinese history was co-constructed by Han (Chinese) people, transmitters of farming language and culture, and non-Han people, typically transmitters of nomadic language and culture in North and Northwest China. Governance by non-Han steppe rulers lasted for almost ten centuries (half of the history of imperial China since the First Emperor of Qin) and the Gansu-Qinghai area was the most important migration corridor between Central and East Asia. These languages and populations have competed, mixed and merged for ages. Surprisingly, a cross-linguistically comprehensive portrait of this region is missing in spite of individual language descriptions.

The present Project will study language mixture and language replacement patterns in the Gansu-Qinghai area, which geographically constitutes a natural demarcation between nomadic herders and farmers. In this intense contact area, home to nomadic languages and populations, Sinitic (Han) languages started to resemble non-Han languages, adopting similar syntactic means, while Yugur languages (Western Yugur belongs to Turkic language group and Eastern Yugur belongs to Mongolic language group), spoken by typical nomadic populations, kept their syntax relatively intact. The mixing degree of languages and populations in this area remains unclear, and in-depth research with an interdisciplinary approach is necessary.

The Project will determine the linguistic situation in this anthropological corridor by targeting two nomadic languages (Western and Eastern Yugur) and a variety of Sinitic languages. The analysis of language mixing and language replacement processes will be based on quantified data modeling, part of which will come from molecular anthropology and other fields such as history and archeology. This interdisciplinary approach will offer a global vision of language and population mixing in the Gansu-Qinghai area and a living sample of language preservation or loss due to different lifestyles and cultures.

Website ERC project: