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Encyclopedia > Tocharian languages
Indo-European
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Indo-European studies

Tocharian is one of the most obscure branches of the group of Indo-European languages. It consisted of two languages, Tocharian A (Turfanian, Arsi, or East Tocharian) and Tocharian B (Kuchean or West Tocharian). These languages were spoken roughly from the 6th to 8th centuries; before they became extinct, their speakers were absorbed into the expanding Uyghur tribes. The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many in Southwest Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. ... The Anatolian languages are a group of extinct languages, either Indo-European or (in some classifications) closely related to Indo-European, which were spoken in Asia Minor, including Hittite. ... The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe. ... The Celtic languages are the languages descended from Proto-Celtic, or Common Celtic, spoken by ancient and modern Celts alike. ... The Indo-Iranian languages are the language links between India and Iran. ... The Italic subfamily is a member of the Centum branch of the Indo-European language family. ... The Slavic languages (also called Slavonic languages), a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia. ... For the language group see Indo-European languages; for other uses see Indo-European (disambiguation) Indo-Europeans are speakers of Indo-European languages. ... Asia Minor lies east of the Bosporus, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. ... The Baltic Sea The Balts or Baltic peoples (Latvian: balti, Lithuanian: baltai), defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between lower Vistula and upper Dvina and Dneper. ... A Celtic cross. ... Thor, pagan Germanic sky god. ... Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatama Gandhi and a Rajasthani tribesman The Indo-Aryans are the ethno-linguistic descendents of the Indic branch of the Indo-Iranians. ... Italic peoples are all those peoples that lived in Italy before the Roman domination. ... The Slavic peoples are the most numerous ethnic and linguistic body of peoples in Europe. ... The Tocharians were the easternmost speakers of an Indo-European language in antiquity, inhabiting the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern Peoples Republic of China. ... The Proto-Indo-Europeans are the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, a prehistoric people of the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Age. ... The Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) were a patrilineal society of the Bronze Age (roughly 5th to 4th millennium BC), probably semi-nomadic, relying on animal husbandry. ... In 1956 Marija Gimbutas introduced her Kurgan hypothesis combining Kurgan archaeology with linguistics to locate the origins of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) speaking peoples. ... Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies The Yamna (from Russian яма pit) or pit grave culture is a prehistoric culture of the Bug/Dniester/Ural region, dating to the 36th–23rd centuries BC. The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hillforts. ... Approximate extent of the Corded Ware horizon with adjacent 3rd millennium cultures (after EIEC). ... Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics, dealing with the Indo-European languages. ... The Indo-European languages comprise a family of several hundred languages and dialects [1], including most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many in Southwest Asia, Central Asia and South Asia. ... This Buddhist stela from China, Northern Wei period, was built in the early 6th century. ... (7th century — 8th century — 9th century — other centuries) Events The Iberian peninsula is taken by Arab and Berber Muslims, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and starting almost 8 centuries of Muslim presence there. ... The Uyghur (Uyghur: ئۇيغۇر; Uighur Simplified Chinese: 维吾尔; Traditional Chinese: 維吾爾; Pinyin: Wéiwúěr; Turkish: Uygur) are a Turkic people, forming one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Peoples Republic of China. ...


Both languages were once spoken in the Tarim Basin in Central Asia, now the Xinjiang province of China. The name of the language is taken from the Tocharians (Greek: Τόχαροι, "Tokharoi") of the Greek historians (Ptolemy VI, 11, 6). These are sometimes identified with the Yuezhi and the Kushans, and the term Tokharistan usually refers to 1st millennium Bactria. A Turkic text refers to the Turfanian language (Tocharian A) as twqry. Interpretation is difficult, but F. W. K. Müller has associated this with the name of the Bactrian Tokharoi. Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. ... Map of Central Asia showing three sets of possible boundaries for the region Central Asia located as a region of the world Central Asia (Russian: Средняя Азия/Srednyaya Azia for Middle Asia or Центральная Азия/Tsentralnaya Azia for Central Asia; in Turkic languages Orta Asya; in Persian آسياى مرکزی; (Urdu: وسطى ايشيا)Wasti Asia; Standard Mandarin Chinese... Xinjiang (Uyghur: (Shinjang); Chinese: æ–°ç–†; Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Hsin1-chiang1; Postal Pinyin: Sinkiang), full name Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى (Shinjang Uyghur Aptonom Rayoni); Simplified Chinese: 新疆维吾尔自治区; Traditional Chinese: 新疆維吾爾自治區; Pinyin: XÄ«njiāng Wéiwúěr ZìzhìqÅ«), is an autonomous region of the Peoples Republic of China. ... The Tocharians were the easternmost speakers of an Indo-European language in antiquity, inhabiting the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern Peoples Republic of China. ... Claudius Ptolemaeus (Greek: ; c. ... The migrations of the Yuezhi through Central Asia, from around 176 to 30 BCE. Yuezhi (Chinese:月氏, also 月支, Wade-Giles: Yüeh-Chih) or Da Yuezhi (Chinese:大月氏, also 大月支, Great Yuezhi) is the Chinese name for an ancient Central Asian people. ... Boundary of the Kushan empire, c. ... In the Gregorian calendar, the 1st millennium is the period of one thousand years that commenced with the year 1 Anno Domini. ... It has been suggested that Ta-Hsia be merged into this article or section. ...

Contents


Phonetics

Phonetically, Tocharian is a "Centum" (pronounced [kentum]) Indo-European language, characterized by the merging of palato-velar consonants with plain velars (*k, *g, *gh), which is generally associated with Indo-European languages of the West European area (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek). In that sense, Tocharian seems to have been an isolate in the "Satem" phonetic world of Indo-European-speaking East European and Asian populations. Centum is the collective name for the branches of Indo-European in which the so-called Satem shift, the change of palato-velar *k^, *g^, *g^h into fricatives or affricates, did not take place, and the palato-velar consonants merged with plain velars (*k, *g, *gh). ... The Italic subfamily is a member of the Centum branch of the Indo-European language family. ... The Celtic languages are the languages descended from Proto-Celtic, or Common Celtic, spoken by ancient and modern Celts alike. ... The Satem division of the Indo-European family includes the following branches: Indo-Iranian, Baltic and Slavic, Armenian, Albanian, perhaps also a number of barely documented extinct languages, such as Phrygian, Thracian, and Dacian (see: Indo-European languages). ...


Vowels

  • /i/, /e/, /a/ /u/, /o/, /ɨ/, /ə/
  • Diphthongs (Tocharian B only): /aj/, /aw/
  • The simple vowels and diphthongs had nasalized versions, transcribed by a following underdotted [m].

Consonants

  • Stops: /p/, /t/, /c/, /k/, /kʷ/ (transcribed [kw])
  • Affricates: /ts/
  • Fricatives: /s/, /ɕ/ (transcribed [ś]), /ʂ/ (transcribed s with underdot)
  • Approximants: /w/, /j/ (transcribed [y])
  • Trills: /r/
  • Nasals: /m/, /n/, /ɲ/ (transcribed [ñ])
  • Lateral Approximants: /l/, /ʎ/ (transcribed [ly])

Note that the above consonantal values are largely based on the writing of Sanskrit/Prakrit loanwords. A retroflex value for /ʂ/ is particularly suspect as it has nothing to do with /r/ historically, being derived from palatalized /s/; it was probably a low-frequency sibilant /ʃ/ (like German spelling [sch]), as opposed to the higher-frequency sibilant /ɕ/ (like Mandarin pin-yin spelling [x]).


Writing system

Wooden plate with inscriptions in Tocharian. Kucha, China, 5th-8th century. Tokyo National Museum.
Wooden plate with inscriptions in Tocharian. Kucha, China, 5th-8th century. Tokyo National Museum.
Tocharian abugida (vowels).
Tocharian abugida (vowels).
Tocharian abugida (consonants).
Tocharian abugida (consonants).

Tocharian is documented in manuscript fragments, mostly from the 8th century (with a few earlier ones) that were written on palm leaves, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, preserved by the extremely dry climate of the Tarim Basin. Samples of the language have been discovered at sites in Kucha and Karasahr, including many mural inscriptions. Download high resolution version (842x625, 162 KB)Wooden plate with inscription in the Tocharian language. ... Download high resolution version (842x625, 162 KB)Wooden plate with inscription in the Tocharian language. ... Tocharian refers to an Indo-European culture that inhabited the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern Peoples Republic of China. ... Kucha (Modern Chinese Simplified: 库车, Traditional: 庫車, pinyin KùchÄ“, also romanized Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu. ... The Tokyo National Museum. ... Image File history File links Tocharian2. ... Image File history File links Tocharian2. ... Image File history File links Tocharian1. ... Image File history File links Tocharian1. ... (7th century — 8th century — 9th century — other centuries) Events The Iberian peninsula is taken by Arab and Berber Muslims, thus ending the Visigothic rule, and starting almost 8 centuries of Muslim presence there. ... Piece of paper Paper is a thin, flat material produced by the compression of fibers. ... Kucha (Modern Chinese Simplified: 库车, Traditional: 庫車, pinyin KùchÄ“, also romanized Chiu-tzu, Kiu-che, Kuei-tzu. ... Karasahr (Also Karashahr, meaning black city. Sanskrit Agnideśa. ...


Tocharian A and B are not intercomprehensible. Properly speaking, based on the tentative interpretation of twqry as related to Tokharoi, only Tocharian A may be referred to as Tocharian, while Tocharian B could be called Kuchean (its native name may have been kuśiññe), but since their grammars are usually treated together in scholarly works, the terms A and B have proven useful. The common Proto-Tocharian language must precede the attested languages by several centuries, probably dating to the 1st millennium BC. A pair of languages is said to be mutually intelligible if speakers of one language can readily understand the other language. ... (2nd millennium BC – 1st millennium BC – 1st millennium – other millennia) // Events The Iron Age spread to Western Europe Egypt declined as a major power The Tanakh was written Buddhism was founded by Siddharta Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (6th century BC) Jainism was founded by Mahavira (6th century BC...


The alphabet the Tocharians were using is derived from the North Indian Brahmi alphabetic syllabary (abugida) and is referred to as slanting Brahmi. It soon became apparent that a large proportion of the manuscripts were translations of known Buddhist works in Sanskrit and some of them were even bilingual, facilitating decipherment of the new language. Besides the Buddhist and Manichaean religious texts, there were also monastery correspondence and accounts, commercial documents, caravan permits, and medical and magical texts, and one love poem. Many Tocharians embraced Manichaean duality or Buddhism.
BrāhmÄ« refers to the pre-modern members of the Brahmic family of scripts, attested from the 3rd century BC. The best known and earliest dated inscriptions in Brahmi are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka. ... An abugida or alphasyllabary is a writing system composed of signs (graphemes) denoting consonants with an inherent following vowel, which are consistently modified to indicate other vowels (or, in some cases, the lack of a vowel). ... Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama). ... Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम् ; pronunciation: ) is an Indo-European classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ... Manichean priests, writing at their desk, with panel inscription in Sogdian. ...


Cultural significance

"Tocharian donors", with light hair and light eye color, dressed in Sassanian style, 6th century CE fresco, Qizil, Tarim Basin. These frescoes are associated with annotations in Tocharian and Sanskrit made by their painters.
"Tocharian donors", with light hair and light eye color, dressed in Sassanian style, 6th century CE fresco, Qizil, Tarim Basin. These frescoes are associated with annotations in Tocharian and Sanskrit made by their painters.

The existence of the Tocharian languages and alphabet was not even guessed at, until chance discoveries in the early 20th century brought to light fragments of manuscripts in a then-unknown alphabetic syllabary (abugida) that turned out to belong to a hitherto unknown branch of the Indo-European family of languages, which has been named 'Tocharian'. Download high resolution version (776x603, 549 KB)Fresco from Qizil. ... Download high resolution version (776x603, 549 KB)Fresco from Qizil. ... Tocharian refers to an Indo-European culture that inhabited the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern Peoples Republic of China. ... Head of king Shapur II (Sasanian dynasty A.D. 4th century). ... Tocharian donors, with light hair and light eye color, dressed in Sassanian style, 6th century CE fresco, Qizil, Tarim Basin. ... Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. ... Sanskrit ( संस्कृतम् ; pronunciation: ) is an Indo-European classical language of India and a liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. ... An abugida or alphasyllabary is a writing system composed of signs (graphemes) denoting consonants with an inherent following vowel, which are consistently modified to indicate other vowels (or, in some cases, the lack of a vowel). ...


Tocharian has upset some theories about the relations of Indo-European languages and is revitalizing linguistic studies. The Tocharian languages are a major geographic exception to the usual pattern of Indo-European branches, being the only one that spread directly east from the theoretical Indo-European starting point in the Pontic steppe. In 1956 Marija Gimbutas introduced her Kurgan hypothesis combining Kurgan archaeology with linguistics to locate the origins of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) speaking peoples. ...


Tocharian probably died out after 840, when the Uyghurs were expelled from Mongolia by the Kirghiz, retreating to the Tarim Basin. This theory is supported by the discovery of translations of Tocharian texts into Uyghur. During Uyghur rule, the peoples mixed with the Uyghurs to produce much of the modern population of what is now Xinjiang. Events After the death of Louis the Pious, his sons Lothar, Charles the Bald and Louis the German fight over the division of the empire, with Lothair succeding as Emperor. ... The Uyghur (Uyghur: ئۇيغۇر; Uighur Simplified Chinese: 维吾尔; Traditional Chinese: 維吾爾; Pinyin: Wéiwúěr; Turkish: Uygur) are a Turkic people, forming one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Peoples Republic of China. ... A traditional Kyrgyz Manaschi performing part of the Manas epic poem at a yurt camp in Karakol Kyrgyz are a Turkic ethnic group found primarily in Kyrgyzstan. ... Xinjiang (Uyghur: (Shinjang); Chinese: 新疆; Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Hsin1-chiang1; Postal Pinyin: Sinkiang), full name Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى (Shinjang Uyghur Aptonom Rayoni); Simplified Chinese: 新疆维吾尔自治区; Traditional Chinese: 新疆維吾爾自治區; Pinyin: Xīnjiāng Wéiwúěr Zìzhìqū), is an autonomous region of the Peoples Republic of China. ...

Tocharian vocabulary (sample)
Modern English Tocharian A Tocharian B Ancient Greek Latin Sanskrit *Proto-Indo-European
one sas e heis ūnus eka *hoinos or *sems
two wu wi duo duo dvāu *duoh1
three tre trai treis trēs tri *treyes
four śtwar śtwer tettares quattuor catur *kwetwores
five päñ piś pente quīnque pañca *penkwe
six äk kas heks sex ṣaṣ *(s)weḱs
seven pät ukt hepta septem sapta *septm
eight okät okt oktō octō aṣṭa *oḱtoh3
nine ñu ñu ennea novem nava *newn
ten śäk śak deka decem daśa *deḱm
hundred känt kante hekaton centum śata *ḱmtom
father pācar pācer patēr pater pit *ph2tēr
mother mācar mācer mētēr mater māt *me2tēr
brother pracar procer (phrater)¹ frāter bhrāt *bhre2tēr
sister ar er (eor)¹ soror svas *swesor
(horse)³ yuk yakwe hippos equus aśva *eḱwo-
cow ko keu bous (bos)² go *gwou-
(voice)² vak vek (epos)¹ vox vāc *wekw-

¹ = Cognate, with shifted meaning ² = Borrowed cognate, not native. ³ = English meaning, unrelated word This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


See also

Current distribution of Human Language Families Most languages are known to belong to language families (families hereforth). ... The Tocharians were the easternmost speakers of an Indo-European language in antiquity, inhabiting the Tarim basin in what is now Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, northwestern Peoples Republic of China. ...

References

  • "Tokharian Pratimoksa Fragment Sylvain Levi". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 1913, pp. 109-120.
  • Mallory, J.P. and Victor H. Mair. The Tarim Mummies. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000. (ISBN 0500051011)
  • Schmalsteig, William R. "Tokharian and Baltic." Lituanus. v. 20, no. 3, 1974.
  • Krause, Wolfgang and Werner Thomas. Tocharisches Elemantarbuch. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, 1960.

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Tocharian languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (741 words)
Phonetically, Tocharian is a "Centum" (pronounced [kentum]) Indo-European language, characterized by the merging of palato-velar consonants with plain velars (*k, *g, *gh), which is generally associated with Indo-European languages of the West European area (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek).
Tocharian is documented in manuscript fragments, mostly from the 8th century (with a few earlier ones) that were written on palm leaves, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, preserved by the extremely dry climate of the Tarim Basin.
The existence of the Tocharian languages and alphabet was not even guessed at, until chance discoveries in the early 20th century brought to light fragments of manuscripts in a then-unknown alphabetic syllabary (abugida) that turned out to belong to a hitherto unknown branch of the Indo-European family of languages, which has been named 'Tocharian'.
Article about "Tocharian languages" in the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004 (434 words)
Tocharian is documented in manuscript fragments, mostly from the 7th and 8th centuries CE (with a few earlier ones) that were written on palm leaves, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, which had been preserved by the extremely dry climate of the Tarim Basin.
The existence of the Tocharian languages and alphabet was not even guessed at, until chance discoveries in the early 20th century brought to light fragments of manuscripts in a then unknown alphabetic syllabary that proved, astonishingly, to be in a hitherto unknown branch of the Indo-European family of languages, which has been named 'Tocharian'.
Tocharian was the language of the short-lived, yet influential Kushan empire.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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