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Tocharian languages – Wikipedia

Tocharian languages – Wikipedia

2023-01-11 12:08:16

Extinct Indo-European languages in Asia

The Tocharian (generally Tokharian) languages ( or ), also referred to as Arśi-Kuči, Agnean-Kuchean or Kuchean-Agnean, are an extinct department of the Indo-European language family spoken by inhabitants of the Tarim Basin, the Tocharians.[2] The languages are identified from manuscripts relationship from the fifth to the eighth century AD, which had been present in oasis cities on the northern fringe of the Tarim Basin (now a part of Xinjiang in Northwest China) and the Lop Desert. The invention of those languages within the early twentieth century contradicted the previously prevalent concept of an east–west division of the Indo-European language household as centum and satem languages, and prompted reinvigorated research of the Indo-European household. Students learning these manuscripts within the early twentieth century recognized their authors with the Tokharoi, a reputation utilized in historic sources for folks of Bactria (Tokharistan). Though this identification is now believed to be mistaken, “Tocharian” stays the standard time period for these languages.[3][2]

The found manuscripts file two carefully associated languages, known as Tocharian A (additionally East Tocharian, Agnean or Turfanian) and Tocharian B (West Tocharian or Kuchean). The subject material of the texts means that Tocharian A was extra archaic and used as a Buddhist liturgical language, whereas Tocharian B was extra actively spoken in your complete space from Turfan within the east to Tumshuq within the west. A physique of loanwords and names present in Prakrit paperwork from the Lop Nor basin have been dubbed Tocharian C (Kroränian). A claimed discover of ten Tocharian C texts written in Kharoṣṭhī script has been discredited.[4]

The oldest extant manuscripts in Tocharian B are actually dated to the fifth and even late 4th century AD, making Tocharian a language of Late Antiquity modern with Gothic, Classical Armenian, and Primitive Irish.[5]

Discovery and significance[edit]

The existence of the Tocharian languages and alphabet was not even suspected till archaeological exploration of the Tarim Basin by Aurel Stein within the early twentieth century dropped at gentle fragments of manuscripts in an unknown language, relationship from the sixth to eighth centuries AD.[7]

It quickly turned clear that these fragments had been really written in two distinct however associated languages belonging to a hitherto unknown department of Indo-European, now generally known as Tocharian:

  • Tocharian A (Agnean or East Tocharian; natively ārśi) of Qarašähär (historic Agni, Chinese language Yanqi) and Turpan (historic Turfan and Xočo), and
  • Tocharian B (Kuchean or West Tocharian) of Kucha and Tocharian A websites.

Prakrit paperwork from Third-century Krorän and Niya on the southeast fringe of the Tarim Basin include loanwords and names that seem to come back from a carefully associated language, known as Tocharian C.[1]

The invention of Tocharian upset some theories concerning the relations of Indo-European languages and revitalized their research. Within the nineteenth century, it was thought that the division between centum and satem languages was a easy west–east division, with centum languages within the west. The speculation was undermined within the early twentieth century by the invention of Hittite, a centum language in a comparatively jap location, and Tocharian, which was a centum language regardless of being the easternmost department. The end result was a brand new speculation, following the wave model of Johannes Schmidt, suggesting that the satem isogloss represents a linguistic innovation within the central a part of the Proto-Indo-European residence vary, and the centum languages alongside the jap and the western peripheries didn’t bear that change.

A number of students determine the ancestors of the Tocharians with the Afanasievo culture of South Siberia (c. 3300—2500 BC), an early jap offshoot of the steppe cultures of the Don-Volga space that later turned the Yamnayans.[9][11] Below this state of affairs, Tocharian-speakers would have immigrated to the Tarim Basin from the north at some later level. On this foundation, Michaël Peyrot argues that a number of of essentially the most placing typological peculiarities of Tocharian are rooted in a chronic contact of Proto-Tocharian with an early stage of Proto-Samoyedic in South Siberia. Amongst others, this may clarify the merger of all three stop series (e.g. *t, *d, *dʰ > *t), which will need to have led to an enormous variety of homonyms, in addition to the event of an agglutinative case system.[12]

Most students reject Walter Bruno Henning‘s proposed hyperlink to Gutian, a language spoken on the Iranian plateau within the twenty second century BC and identified solely from private names.

Tocharian in all probability died out after 840 when the Uyghurs, expelled from Mongolia by the Kyrgyz, moved into the Tarim Basin.[1] The speculation is supported by the invention of translations of Tocharian texts into Uyghur.

Some fashionable Chinese phrases might finally derive from a Tocharian or associated supply, e.g. Old Chinese *mjit (; ) “honey”, from Proto-Tocharian *ḿət(ə) (the place *ḿ is palatalized; cf. Tocharian B mit), cognate with Old Church Slavonic медъ (transliterated: medŭ) (which means “honey”), and English mead.[14]

A colophon to a Buddhist manuscript in Old Turkic from 800 AD states that it was translated from Sanskrit through a twγry language. In 1907 Emil Sieg and Friedrich W. K. Müller guessed that this referred to the newly found language of the Turpan space.
Sieg and Müller, studying this title as toxrï, related it with the ethnonym Tócharoi (Ancient Greek: Τόχαροι, Ptolemy VI, 11, 6, 2nd century AD), itself taken from Indo-Iranian (cf. Old Persian tuxāri-, Khotanese ttahvāra, and Sanskrit tukhāra), and proposed the title “Tocharian” (German Tocharisch). Ptolemy’s Tócharoi are sometimes related by fashionable students with the Yuezhi of Chinese language historic accounts, who based the Kushan empire. It’s now clear that these folks really spoke Bactrian, an Eastern Iranian language, fairly than the language of the Tarim manuscripts, so the time period “Tocharian” is taken into account a misnomer.[22][23][24]

However, it stays the usual time period for the language of the Tarim Basin manuscripts.[25][26]

In 1938, Walter Bruno Henning discovered the time period “4 twγry” utilized in early Ninth-century manuscripts in Sogdian, Center Iranian, and Uighur. He argued that it referred to the area on the northeast fringe of the Tarim, together with Agni and Karakhoja, however not Kucha. He thus inferred that the colophon referred to the Agnean language.

Though the time period twγry or toxrï seems to be the Outdated Turkic title for the Tocharians, it’s not present in Tocharian texts.[25]
The obvious self-designation ārśi seems in Tocharian A texts. Tocharian B texts use the adjective kuśiññe, derived from kuśi or kuči, a reputation additionally identified from Chinese language and Turkic paperwork.[25] The historian Bernard Sergent compounded these names to coin an alternate time period Arśi-Kuči for the household, lately revised to Agni-Kuči,[29] however this title has not achieved widespread utilization.

Writing system[edit]

Tocharian B inscription from the Kizil Caves, within the Tocharian model of the Brahmi script, studying:
???????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????? ????????????????????????????
(Conventional Ashokan Brahmi)
Se pañäkte saṅketavattse ṣarsa papaiykau
“This Buddha, by Sanketava’s hand, was painted”.[30][31][32][33]

Tocharian is documented in manuscript fragments, largely from the eighth century (with just a few earlier ones) that had been written on palm leaves, wood tablets, and Chinese language paper, preserved by the extraordinarily dry local weather of the Tarim Basin. Samples of the language have been found at websites in Kucha and Karasahr, together with many mural inscriptions.

Most of attested Tocharian was written within the Tocharian alphabet, a spinoff of the Brahmi alphabetic syllabary (abugida) additionally known as North Turkestan Brahmi or slanting Brahmi. Nonetheless a smaller quantity was written within the Manichaean script wherein Manichaean texts had been recorded. It quickly turned obvious that a big proportion of the manuscripts had been translations of identified Buddhist works in Sanskrit and a few of them had been even bilingual, facilitating decipherment of the brand new language. Apart from the Buddhist and Manichaean spiritual texts, there have been additionally monastery correspondence and accounts, industrial paperwork, caravan permits, medical and magical texts, and one love poem.

In 1998 the Chinese language linguist Ji Xianlin printed a translation and evaluation of fragments of a Tocharian Maitreyasamiti-Nataka found in 1974 in Yanqi.[36][37][38]

Tocharian A and B[edit]

Tocharian languages A (blue), B (pink) and C (inexperienced) within the Tarim Basin. Tarim oasis cities are given as listed within the Book of Han (c. 2nd century BC), with the areas of the squares proportional to inhabitants.

Tocharian A and B are considerably completely different, to the purpose of being mutually unintelligible. A standard Proto-Tocharian language should precede the attested languages by a number of centuries, in all probability relationship to the late 1st millennium BC.[41]

Tocharian A is discovered solely within the jap a part of the Tocharian-speaking space, and all extant texts are of a spiritual nature. Tocharian B, nevertheless, is discovered all through the vary and in each spiritual and secular texts. Consequently, it has been steered that Tocharian A was a liturgical language, now not spoken natively, whereas Tocharian B was the spoken language of your complete space.[1]

The hypothesized relationship of Tocharian A and B as liturgical and spoken types, respectively, is usually in contrast with the connection between Latin and the trendy Romance languages, or Classical Chinese and Mandarin. Nonetheless, in each of those latter instances, the liturgical language is the linguistic ancestor of the spoken language, whereas no such relationship holds between Tocharian A and B. In actual fact, from a phonological perspective Tocharian B is considerably extra conservative than Tocharian A, and serves as the first supply for reconstructing Proto-Tocharian. Solely Tocharian B preserves the next Proto-Tocharian options: stress distinctions, closing vowels, diphthongs, and o vs. e distinction. In flip, the lack of closing vowels in Tocharian A has led to the lack of sure Proto-Tocharian classes nonetheless present in Tocharian B, e.g. the vocative case and a number of the noun, verb, and adjective declensional courses.

Of their declensional and conjugational endings, the 2 languages innovated in divergent methods, with neither clearly easier than the opposite. For instance, each languages present vital improvements within the current lively indicative endings however in radically alternative ways, in order that solely the second-person singular ending is instantly cognate between the 2 languages, and typically neither variant is instantly cognate with the corresponding Proto-Indo-European (PIE) kind. The agglutinative secondary case endings within the two languages likewise stem from completely different sources, exhibiting parallel improvement of the secondary case system after the Proto-Tocharian interval. Likewise, a number of the verb courses present unbiased origins, e.g. the category II preterite, which makes use of reduplication in Tocharian A (probably from the reduplicated aorist) however lengthy PIE ē in Tocharian B (probably associated to the long-vowel good present in Latin lēgī, fēcī, and many others.).[25]

Tocharian B reveals an inside chronological improvement; three linguistic levels have been detected.[42] The oldest stage is attested solely in Kucha. There are additionally the center (“classical”) and the late stage.[43]

Tocharian C[edit]

A 3rd Tocharian language was first steered by Thomas Burrow within the Nineteen Thirties, whereas discussing Third-century paperwork from Krörän (Loulan) and Niya. The texts had been written in Gandhari Prakrit, however contained loanwords of evidently Tocharian origin, corresponding to kilme (“district”), ṣoṣthaṃga (“tax collector”), and ṣilpoga (“doc”). This hypothetical language later turned commonly known as Tocharian C; it has additionally generally been known as Kroränian or Krorainic.[44]

In papers printed posthumously in 2018, Klaus T. Schmidt, a scholar of Tocharian, introduced a decipherment of 10 texts written within the Kharoṣṭhī script. Schmidt claimed that these texts had been written in a 3rd Tocharian language he known as Lolanisch.[45][46] He additionally steered that the language was nearer to Tocharian B than to Tocharian A.[46] In 2019 a gaggle of linguists led by Georges Pinault and Michaël Peyrot convened in Leiden to look at Schmidt’s translations towards the unique texts. They concluded that Schmidt’s decipherment was essentially flawed, that there was no motive to affiliate the texts with Krörän, and that the language they recorded was neither Tocharian nor Indic, however Iranian.[4][47]


Phonetically, Tocharian languages are “centum” Indo-European languages, which means that they merge the palatovelar consonants (*ḱ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ) of Proto-Indo-European with the plain velars (*okay, *g, *gʰ) fairly than palatalizing them to affricates or sibilants. Centum languages are largely present in western and southern Europe (Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic). In that sense Tocharian (to some extent just like the Greek and the Anatolian languages) appears to have been an isolate within the “satem” (i.e. palatovelar to sibilant) phonetic areas of Indo-European-speaking populations. The invention of Tocharian contributed to doubts that Proto-Indo-European had initially break up into western and jap branches; at present, the centum–satem division shouldn’t be seen as an actual familial division.[56]


Tocharian A and Tocharian B have the identical set of vowels, however they typically don’t correspond to one another. For instance, the sound a didn’t happen in Proto-Tocharian. Tocharian B a is derived from former careworn ä or unstressed ā (mirrored unchanged in Tocharian A), whereas Tocharian A a stems from Proto-Tocharian /ɛ/ or /ɔ/ (mirrored as /e/ and /o/ in Tocharian B), and Tocharian A e and o stem largely from monophthongization of former diphthongs (nonetheless current in Tocharian B).


Diphthongs happen in Tocharian B solely.

  Nearer part
is entrance
Nearer part
is again
Opener part is unrounded ai /əi/ au /əu/
āu /au/
Opener part is rounded oy /oi/  


The next desk lists the reconstructed phonemes in Tocharian together with their commonplace transcription. As a result of Tocharian is written in an alphabet used initially for Sanskrit and its descendants, the transcription displays Sanskrit phonology, and should not signify Tocharian phonology precisely. The Tocharian alphabet additionally has letters representing all the remaining Sanskrit sounds, however these seem solely in Sanskrit loanwords and will not be thought to have had distinct pronunciations in Tocharian. There’s some uncertainty as to precise pronunciation of a number of the letters, significantly these representing palatalized obstruents (see under).

  1. /n/ is transcribed by two completely different letters within the Tocharian alphabet relying on place. Primarily based on the corresponding letters in Sanskrit, these are transcribed (word-finally, together with earlier than sure clitics) and n (elsewhere), however represents /n/, not /m/.
  2. The sound written c is believed to correspond to a alveolo-palatal affricate // in Sanskrit. The Tocharian pronunciation /tɕ/ is usually recommended by the widespread incidence of the cluster śc, however the precise pronunciation can’t be decided with certainty.
  3. The sound written appears extra prone to have been a palato-alveolar sibilant /ʃ/ (as in English “ship“), as a result of it derives from a palatalized /s/.[57]
  4. The sound /ŋ/ happens solely earlier than okay, or in some clusters the place a okay has been deleted between consonants. It’s clearly phonemic as a result of sequences nk and ñk additionally exist (from syncope of a former ä between them).



Tocharian has fully re-worked the nominal declension system of Proto-Indo-European. The one instances inherited from the proto-language are nominative, genitive, accusative, and (in Tocharian B solely) vocative; in Tocharian the outdated accusative is named the indirect case. Along with these main instances, nevertheless, every Tocharian language has six instances fashioned by the addition of an invariant suffix to the indirect case — though the set of six instances shouldn’t be the identical in every language, and the suffixes are largely non-cognate. For instance, the Tocharian phrase yakwe (Toch B), yuk (Toch A) “horse” < PIE *eḱwos is declined as follows:[25]

The Tocharian A instrumental case hardly ever happens with people.

When referring to people, the indirect singular of most adjectives and of some nouns is marked in each varieties by an ending -(a)ṃ, which additionally seems within the secondary instances. An instance is eṅkwe (Toch B), oṅk (Toch A) “man”, which belongs to the identical declension as above, however has indirect singular eṅkweṃ (Toch B), oṅkaṃ (Toch A), and corresponding indirect stems eṅkweṃ- (Toch B), oṅkn- (Toch A) for the secondary instances. That is thought to stem from the generalization of n-stem adjectives as a sign of determinative semantics, seen most prominently within the weak adjective declension within the Germanic languages (the place it cooccurs with particular articles and determiners), but in addition in Latin and Greek n-stem nouns (particularly correct names) fashioned from adjectives, e.g. Latin Catō (genitive Catōnis) actually “the sly one” < catus “sly”,[59][60] Greek Plátōn actually “the broad-shouldered one” < platús “broad”.[25]


In distinction, the verbal conjugation system is kind of conservative. The vast majority of Proto-Indo-European verbal courses and classes are represented in some method in Tocharian, though not essentially with the identical operate.[62] Some examples: athematic and thematic current tenses, together with null-, -y-, -sḱ-, -s-, -n- and -nH- suffixes in addition to n-infixes and numerous laryngeal-ending stems; o-grade and probably lengthened-grade perfects (though missing reduplication or increase); sigmatic, reduplicated, thematic, and probably lengthened-grade aorists; optatives; imperatives; and probably PIE subjunctives.

As well as, most PIE units of endings are present in some kind in Tocharian (though with vital improvements), together with thematic and athematic endings, main (non-past) and secondary (previous) endings, lively and mediopassive endings, and excellent endings. Twin endings are nonetheless discovered, though they’re hardly ever attested and customarily restricted to the third particular person. The mediopassive nonetheless displays the excellence between main -r and secondary -i, effaced in most Indo-European languages. Each root and suffix ablaut remains to be well-represented, though once more with vital improvements.


Tocharian verbs are conjugated within the following classes:[25]

  • Temper: indicative, subjunctive, optative, crucial.
  • Tense/facet (within the indicative solely): current, preterite, imperfect.
  • Voice: lively, mediopassive, deponent.
  • Individual: 1st, 2nd, Third.
  • Quantity: singular, twin, plural.
  • Causation: fundamental, causative.
  • Non-finite: lively participle, mediopassive participle, current gerundive, subjunctive gerundive.


A given verb belongs to certainly one of numerous courses, in line with its conjugation. As in Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, and (to a lesser extent) Latin, there are unbiased units of courses within the indicative current, subjunctive, perfect, crucial, and to a restricted extent optative and imperfect, and there’s no basic correspondence among the many completely different units of courses, which means that every verb have to be specified utilizing quite a lot of principal parts.

Current indicative[edit]

Probably the most complicated system is the current indicative, consisting of 12 courses, 8 thematic and 4 athematic, with distinct units of thematic and athematic endings. The next courses happen in Tocharian B (some are lacking in Tocharian A):

  • I: Athematic with out suffix < PIE root athematic.
  • II: Thematic with out suffix < PIE root thematic.
  • III: Thematic with PToch suffix *-ë-. Mediopassive solely. Apparently reflecting constant PIE o theme fairly than the traditional alternating o/e theme.
  • IV: Thematic with PToch suffix *-ɔ-. Mediopassive solely. Similar PIE origin as earlier class, however diverging inside Proto-Tocharian.
  • V: Athematic with PToch suffix *-ā-, possible from both PIE verbs ending in a syllabic laryngeal or PIE derived verbs in *-eh₂- (however prolonged to different verbs).
  • VI: Athematic with PToch suffix *-nā-, from PIE verbs in *-nH-.
  • VII: Athematic with infixed nasal, from PIE infixed nasal verbs.
  • VIII: Thematic with suffix -s-, probably from PIE -sḱ-?
  • IX: Thematic with suffix -sk- < PIE -sḱ-.
  • X: Thematic with PToch suffix *-näsk/nāsk- (evidently a mixture of courses VI and IX).
  • XI: Thematic in PToch suffix *-säsk- (evidently a mixture of courses VIII and IX).
  • XII: Thematic with PToch suffix *-(ä)ññ- < both PIE *-n-y- (denominative to n-stem nouns) or PIE *-nH-y- (deverbative from PIE *-nH- verbs).

Palatalization of the ultimate root consonant happens within the 2nd singular, Third singular, Third twin and 2nd plural in thematic courses II and VIII-XII on account of the unique PIE thematic vowel e.


The subjunctive likewise has 12 courses, denoted i via xii. Most are conjugated identically to the corresponding indicative courses; indicative and subjunctive are distinguished by the truth that a verb in a given indicative class will normally belong to a special subjunctive class.

As well as, 4 subjunctive courses differ from the corresponding indicative courses, two “particular subjunctive” courses with differing suffixes and two “various subjunctive” courses with root ablaut reflecting the PIE good.

Particular subjunctives:

  • iv: Thematic with suffix i < PIE -y-, with constant palatalization of ultimate root consonant. Tocharian B solely, uncommon.
  • vii: Thematic (not athematic, as in indicative class VII) with suffix ñ < PIE -n- (palatalized by thematic e, with palatalized variant generalized).

Various subjunctives:

  • i: Athematic with out suffix, with root ablaut reflecting PIE o-grade in lively singular, zero-grade elsewhere. Derived from PIE good.
  • v: Similar to class i however with PToch suffix *-ā-, initially reflecting laryngeal-final roots however generalized.

The preterite has 6 courses:

See Also

  • I: The most typical class, with a suffix ā < PIE (i.e. roots ending in a laryngeal, though broadly prolonged to different roots). This class reveals root ablaut, with unique e-grade (and palatalization of the preliminary root consonant) within the lively singular, contrasting with zero-grade (and no palatalization) elsewhere.
  • II: This class has reduplication in Tocharian A (probably reflecting the PIE reduplicated aorist). Nonetheless, Tocharian B has a vowel reflecting lengthy PIE ē, together with palatalization of the preliminary root consonant. There is no such thing as a ablaut on this class.
  • III: This class has a suffix s within the Third singular lively and all through the mediopassive, evidently reflecting the PIE sigmatic aorist. Root ablaut happens between lively and mediopassive. Just a few verbs have palatalization within the lively together with s within the Third singular, however no palatalization and no s within the mediopassive, together with no root ablaut (the vowel displays PToch ë). This implies that, for these verbs specifically, the lively originates within the PIE sigmatic aorist (with s suffix and ē vocalism) whereas the mediopassive stems from the PIE good (with o vocalism).
  • IV: This class has suffix ṣṣā, with no ablaut. Most verbs on this class are causatives.
  • V: This class has suffix ñ(ñ)ā, with no ablaut. Only some verbs belong to this class.
  • VI: This class, which has solely two verbs, is derived from the PIE thematic aorist. As in Greek, this class has completely different endings from all of the others, which partly replicate the PIE secondary endings (as anticipated for the thematic aorist).

All besides preterite class VI have a standard set of endings that stem from the PIE good endings, though with vital improvements.


The imperative likewise reveals 6 courses, with a novel set of endings, discovered solely within the second particular person, and a prefix starting with p-. This prefix normally displays Proto-Tocharian *pä- however sudden connecting vowels sometimes happen, and the prefix combines with vowel-initial and glide-initial roots in sudden methods. The prefix is commonly in contrast with the Slavic perfective prefix po-, though the phonology is troublesome to elucidate.

Courses i via v are inclined to co-occur with preterite courses I via V, though there are numerous exceptions. Class vi shouldn’t be a lot a coherent class as an “irregular” class with all verbs not becoming in different classes. The crucial courses are inclined to share the identical suffix because the corresponding preterite (if any), however to have root vocalism that matches the vocalism of a verb’s subjunctive. This contains the foundation ablaut of subjunctive courses i and v, which are inclined to co-occur with crucial class i.

Optative and imperfect[edit]

The optative and imperfect have associated formations. The optative is usually constructed by including i onto the subjunctive stem. Tocharian B likewise types the imperfect by including i onto the current indicative stem, whereas Tocharian A has 4 separate imperfect formations: normally ā is added to the subjunctive stem, however sometimes to the indicative stem, and generally both ā or s is added instantly onto the foundation. The endings differ between the 2 languages: Tocharian A makes use of current endings for the optative and preterite endings for the imperfect, whereas Tocharian B makes use of the identical endings for each, that are a mixture of preterite and distinctive endings (the latter used within the singular lively).


As steered by the above dialogue, there are numerous units of endings. The current-tense endings are available each thematic and athematic variants, though they’re associated, with the thematic endings usually reflecting a theme vowel (PIE e or o) plus the athematic endings. There are completely different units for the preterite courses I via V; preterite class VI; the crucial; and in Tocharian B, within the singular lively of the optative and imperfect. Moreover, every set of endings comes with each lively and mediopassive types. The mediopassive types are fairly conservative, instantly reflecting the PIE variation between -r within the current and -i up to now. (Most different languages with the mediopassive have generalized one of many two.)

The current-tense endings are virtually fully divergent between Tocharian A and B. The next reveals the thematic endings, with their origin:

Thematic current lively indicative endings
Authentic PIE Tocharian B Tocharian A Notes
PIE supply Precise kind PIE supply Precise kind
1st sing *-o-h₂ *-o-h₂ + PToch -u -āu *-o-mi -am *-mi < PIE athematic current
2nd sing *-e-si *-e-th₂e? -‘t *-e-th₂e -‘t *-th₂e < PIE good; earlier consonant palatalized; Tocharian B kind must be -‘ta
Third sing *-e-ti *-e-nu -‘(ä)ṃ *-e-se -‘ṣ *-nu < PIE *nu “now”; earlier consonant palatalized
1st pl *-o-mos? *-o-mō? -em(o) *-o-mes + V -amäs
2nd pl *-e-te *-e-tē-r + V -‘cer *-e-te -‘c *-r < PIE mediopassive?; earlier consonant palatalized
Third pl *-o-nti *-o-nt -eṃ *-o-nti -eñc < *-añc *-o-nt < PIE secondary ending

Comparability to different Indo-European languages[edit]

Tocharian vocabulary (pattern)
English Tocharian A Tocharian B Ancient Greek Sanskrit Latin Proto-Germanic Gothic Old Irish Proto-Slavic Proto-Indo-European
one sas ṣe heîs, hen sa(kṛ́t) semel[a] *simla[a] simle[a] samail[a] *sǫ-[a] *sḗm > PToch *sems
two wu wi dúo dvā́ duo *twai twái *dъva *dwóh₁
three tre trai treîs tráyas trēs *þrīz þreis trí *trьje *tréyes
4 śtwar śtwer téttares, téssares catvā́ras, catúras quattuor *fedwōr fidwōr cethair *četỳre *kʷetwóres
5 päñ piś pénte páñca quīnque *fimf fimf cóic *pętь *pénkʷe
six ṣäk ṣkas héx ṣáṣ intercourse *sehs saihs *šestь *swéḱs
seven ṣpät ṣukt heptá saptá septem *sebun sibun secht *sedmь *septḿ̥
eight okät okt oktṓ aṣṭáu, aṣṭá octō *ahtōu ahtau ocht *osmь *oḱtṓw
9 ñu ñu ennéa náva novem *newun niun noí *dȅvętь *h₁néwn̥
ten śäk śak déka dáśa decem *tehun taihun deich *dȅsętь *déḱm̥t
hundred känt kante hekatón śatām centum *hundą hund cét *sъto *ḱm̥tóm
father pācar pācer patḗr pitṛ pater *fadēr fadar athair *ph₂tḗr
mom mācar mācer mḗtēr mātṛ māter *mōdēr mōdar máthair *màti *méh₂tēr
brother pracar procer phrā́tēr[a] bhrātṛ frāter *brōþēr brōþar bráthair *bràtrъ *bʰréh₂tēr
sister ṣar ṣer éor[a] svásṛ soror *swestēr swistar siur *sestrà *swésōr
horse yuk yakwe híppos áśva- equus *ehwaz aiƕs ech (Balto-Slavic *áśwāˀ) *h₁éḱwos
cow ko keu boûs gaúṣ bōs[b] *kūz (OE ) *govę̀do *gʷṓws
voice[b] vak vek épos[a] vāk vōx *wōhmaz[a] (Du gewag)[a] foccul[a] *vikъ[a] *wṓkʷs
title ñom ñem ónoma nāman- nōmen *namô namō ainmm *jь̏mę *h₁nómn̥
to take advantage of mālkā mālkant amélgein mulgēre *melkaną miluks bligid (MIr) *melzti *h₂melǵ-eye

In conventional Indo-European research, no speculation of a better genealogical relationship of the Tocharian languages has been broadly accepted by linguists. Nonetheless, lexicostatistical and glottochronological approaches recommend the Anatolian languages, together with Hittite, could be the closest kinfolk of Tocharian.[63][64][65]
For example, the identical Proto-Indo-European root *h₂wrg(h)- (however not a standard suffixed formation) may be reconstructed to underlie the phrases for ‘wheel’: Tocharian A wärkänt, Tokharian B yerkwanto, and Hittite ḫūrkis.

Contact with different languages[edit]

The Tocharian language stood involved with numerous surrounding languages, together with Iranian, Uralic, Turkic, and Sinitic languages. Tocharian borrowings, and different Indo-European loanwords transmitted via the Tocharians in the direction of Uralic, Turkic and Sinitic audio system, have been confirmed.[66] Affect onto the Tocharian vowel system, which reveals sure similarities to Uralic languages is defined via early contact through the Afanasievo culture. One other attribute of Tocharian is its agglutinative case marking and case features, in addition to the dearth of dative case.[67] Tocharian had a excessive social place inside the area, and influenced the Turkic languages, which might later exchange Tocharian within the Tarim Basin.[68]

Notable instance[edit]

Many of the texts identified from the Tocharians are spiritual, however one famous textual content is a fraction of a love poem in Tocharian B (manuscript B-496, present in Kizil):[69]

Tocharian B manuscript B-496
Transliteration Inscription
(Tocharian script)

… for a thousand years nevertheless, Thou wilt inform the story Thy (…) I announce,
Heretofore there was no human being dearer to me than thee; likewise hereafter there can be nobody dearer to me than thee.
Love for thee, affection for thee—breath of all that’s life—they usually shall not come to an finish as long as there lasts life.
Thus did I at all times suppose: “I’ll dwell effectively, the entire of my life, with one lover: no pressure, no deceit.”
The god Karma alone knew this considered mine; so he provoked quarrel; he ripped out my coronary heart from thee;
He led thee afar; tore me aside; made me partake in all sorrows and took away the comfort thou wast.

… mi life, spirit, and coronary heart day-by-day…[70][71][72][73]


(…) Yaltse pikwala (…) watäṃ weṃt no

Mā ñi cisa noṣ śomo ñem wnolme lāre tāka mā ra postaṃ cisa lāre mäsketär-ñ.

Ciṣṣe laraumñe ciṣṣe ārtañye pelke kalttarr śolämpa ṣṣe mā te stālle śol-wärñai.


Taiysu pälskanoym sanai ṣaryompa śāyau karttse-śaulu-wärñai snai tserekwa snai nāte.

Yāmor-ñīkte ṣe cau ñi palskāne śarsa tusa ysaly ersate ciṣy araś ñi sälkāte,

Wāya ci lauke tsyāra ñiś wetke klyautka-ñ pāke po läklentas ciṣe tsārwo, sampāte.

(…) Śaul palsk araśñi, kom kom[70][71]

Tocharian B Love Poem, manuscript B496 (certainly one of two fragments).

See additionally[edit]



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Additional studying[edit]

  • Bednarczuk, Leszek; Elżbieta Mańczak-Wohlfeld, and Barbara Podolak. “Non-Indo-European Options of the Tocharian Dialects”. In: Phrases and Dictionaries: A Festschrift for Professor Stanisław Stachowski on the Event of His eighty fifth Birthday. Jagiellonian College Press, 2016. pp. 55–68.
  • Blažek, Václav; Schwarz, Michal (2017). The early Indo-Europeans in Central Asia and China: Cultural relations as reflected in language. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Kulturwissenschaft. ISBN 978-3-85124-240-9.
  • Hackstein, Olav. “Collective and Female in Tocharian.” In: Multilingualism and Historical past of Data, Vol. 2: Linguistic Developments Alongside the Silkroad: Archaism and Innovation in Tocharian, edited by OLAV HACKSTEIN and RONALD I. KIM, 12:143–78. Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2012.
  • Lubotsky A. M. (1998). “Tocharian mortgage phrases in Outdated Chinese language: Chariots, chariot gear, and city constructing”. In: Mair V.H. (Ed.). The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Jap Central Asia. Washington D.C.: Institute for the Research of Man. pp. 379–390.
  • Lubotsky A. M. (2003). “Turkic and Chinese language mortgage phrases in Tocharian”. In: Bauer B.L.M., Pinault G.-J. (Eds.). Language in time and house: A Festschrift for Werner Winter on the event of his eightieth birthday. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 257–269.
  • Meier, Kristin and Peyrot, Michaël. “The Phrase for ‘Honey’ in Chinese language, Tocharian and Sino-Vietnamese.” In: Zeitschrift Der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 167, no. 1 (2017): 7–22. doi:10.13173/zeitdeutmorggese.167.1.0007.
  • Miliūtė-Chomičenkienė, Aleta. “Baltų-slavų-tocharų leksikos gretybės” [ETYMOLOGICAL PARALLELS IN BALTIC, SLAVIC AND TOCHARIAN IN “NAMES OF ANIMALS AND THEIR BODY PARTS”]. In: Baltistica XXVI (2): 135–143. 1990. DOI: 10.15388/baltistica.26.2.2075 (In Lithuanian)
  • Peyrot, Michaël. “On the Formation of the Tocharian Preterite Participle.” Historische Sprachforschung / Historic Linguistics 121 (2008): 69–83.
  • Peyrot, Michaël. “The deviant typological profile of the Tocharian department of Indo-European could also be as a consequence of Uralic substrate affect”. In: Indo-European Linguistics 7, 1 (2019): 72-121. doi:
  • PINAULT, GEORGES-JEAN. “TOKH. B ‘OkayUCAÑÑE’, A ‘OkayUCIṂ’ ET SKR. ‘TOKHARIKA’” . In: Indo-Iranian Journal 45, no. 4 (2002): 311–45.
  • Witczak, Krzysztof Tomasz. “TWO TOCHARIAN BORROWINGS OF ORIENTAL ORIGIN”. In: Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 66, no. 4 (2013): 411–16.

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