3.1. Tocharian

3.1.1. Tocharian as an archaic dialect

Tocharian archaisms are not comparable to Anatolian, and it certainly split from a parent language that showed common features with Late PIE dialects: common laryngeal evolution (see §II.2. Laryngeal evolution), development of the feminine, expansion of thematic stems, loss of productivity of the collective plural, shared LPIE developments of the case system (obscured by the innovative syncretism of Common Tocharian), of the verbal system (such as durational vs. non-durational, passive constructions, modal developments, etc.).

Tocharian has been traditionally described as closer to Italic and Celtic due to certain common morphological developments, but it has also been described as closer to Latin, to Germanic, or to Balto-Slavic. It was most likely part of an ancient Northern Indo-European dialectal region in common with North-West Indo-European dialects (see above).

Tocharian phonological and morphological archaisms may include the following:

·       Potential remain of the ‘original’ CIE velar realisation as non-aspirated, voiceless stops (see below innovations).

·       Tocharian inherited a full-fledged three-way gender contrast from LPIE, although there are some doubts regarding the supposed productivity of the athematic *- forms, coupled with the apparent scarcity of thematic *- forms (Fellner 2014), suggesting that the language split preceded the creation of the feminine paradigm of thematic adjectives (Kortlandt 2017).

·       Marked paucity of inherited simple thematic presents (Ringe 2000).

·       Class III preterite with -s- formant in 3sg. only, in contrast to classical PIE sigmatic aorist, cf. Hitt. hi- conj. Pret. 3sg. -š (Jasanoff 2003).

·       LPIE subjunctive and Tocharian subjunctive show fully different categories, with LPIE showing the thematic suffix *-e/-o, and Tocharian not having a subjunctive suffix. This root formation may have been the initial subjunctive stage in LPIE (Peyrot 2013).

·       Thematic optative *-ih- < *-o-ih- with deletion of thematic vowel as an i-stem (Jasanoff 2009).

·       Abstracts and adjectives in *-o- to o-stem bases (Jasanoff 2009).

·       Mediopassive *-r- endings, also found in Hittite, probably reinterpreted later in LPIE, and then again later in individual dialects.

Tocharian “lexical archaisms”, with meaning predating changes seen in all other Late PIE dialects, include the following (Winter 1968, 1997; Schmidt 1987, 1992):

·       Toch. B nekcie, Toch. A nakcu ‘(yesterday) evening’ ~ Hitt. nekuz (meur) ‘evening time’ < PIE *nekwt- ‘evening’, found as ‘night’ in DIE.

·       Toch. AB äp- ‘enter’ derived from CIE ebh- ‘enter’, where DIE shows ‘have intercourse’, cf. Skt. abh-, Gk. hoipho, Russ. ebu

·       PT *arë ‘plough’ < CIE ħerʕw-o-, where only derivative *ħerʕw-tro- can be reconstructed for DIE.

·       PT *kast ‘hunger’ (possibly shared with Hittite), also behind Gk. gastḗr ‘belly’, pointing to both archaic languages as sharing the original meaning.

·       PT *okw- ‘drink’ < CIE (h)eħgwh-, cf. Hitt. ekw-/akw-, lost in DIE dialects in favour of root *peʕw- (Kim 2000)

·       Toch. B käreñe ‘stone, rock’, where a more specific ‘millstone’ is observed in DIE, cf. Skt. grāvan- ‘stone for pressing out soma’, W breuan ‘handmill’, OCS žrŭnŭ ‘handmill’.

·       Toch. B śran- ‘(adult) man’, not ‘old’, from CIE *gerħ-on-, from verb *gerħ- ‘mature, grow’, where DIE shows ‘old’, cf. Gk. géront- ‘geriatric’, Oss. zärond ‘old’.

·       Toch. A ir ‘young’ < LPIE *iHró- ‘man’, potentially showing an early meaning ‘young man’, maybe ‘vigorous’ (the contrast then akin to Lat. mulier ‘woman’, from mollior ‘softer, weaker’), lost in the DIE community.

3.1.2. Tocharian evolution

Innovations include (Hackstein 2017; Pinault 2017): LPIE vocalism suffered some important changes in Common Tocharian (see table below).

·       LPIE system of stops underwent major reductions in Proto-Tocharian, with the collapse of the three PIE manners of articulation (unvoiced, voiced, and voiced aspirated) into deaspirated voiceless articulation.

·       LPIE syllabic liquids and nasals disappear (with previous epenthetic vowel).

·       Common Tocharian weakening of PT *-a- → CToch. *-ä- in medial post-tonic syllables.

·       Tendency to eliminate vowel length.

·       Development of specific accent rules in West Tocharian.

·       Development of feminine for pronouns.

 

PIE

Pre-PT

Late PT

TA

TB

*aH(_C), *ā

*ā

*å̄

ao

o

*oH(_C), *ō

*ō

*ā

ā

ā/a

*H(C_C and U_(C)#), *a

*a

*ā

ā

ā/a

*i, *u

*i, *u

*(‘)ä

ä

a/ä

*e

*e

*’ä

ä

a/ä

*iH(_C-), *ī

*ī

*(’)ä

i

i

*uH(_C-), *ū

*ū

u

u

*o

*o

a

e

*eH(_C), *ē, *ee

*ē

*’æ

a

e

*eu

*eu

*’äu

u

u

*ou

*ou

u

o

ȇu (MQ), au

*ei

*ei

*’äi

i

i

*oi

*oi

i

e

ei, ai

*eu

*eu

*’æu

o

ȇu (MQ), au

*ēi

*ēi

*’æi

e

ei, ai

*ōu

*ōu

*āu

o

au

*ōi

*ōi

*āi

e

ai

The first documents of written Tocharian date to the early medieval period, along the northern Silk Road, within the Tarim basin. Tocharian A manuscripts come from the eastern area (Shorchuk and Turfan), and Tocharian B texts found throughout the whole area, although texts from the western part appear to be more archaic than the central dialect (Penney 2017).

The earliest dated texts come from AD mid–7th c., with the Tocharian script likely being developed at the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th century, with radiocarbon dates available ranging ca. 400–900 (and up to 1200) for Tocharian B, and ca. 700–1000 for Tocharian A documents. The existence of two (maybe three) distinct dialects place a Common Tocharian language some time ca. 500 BC – 1 AD, whereas the split of Pre-Tocharian from the parent Late Proto-Indo-European is assumed to be older than any other dialect.

3.1.3. External influences on Tocharian

3.1.4. Tocharian–Uralic contacts

In spite of the lack of lexical borrowings, phonetic Uralisms are described based on Tocharian coalescence of the three manners of articulation, similar to the adoption of loanwords in Uralic dialects (i.e. PIE *T, *ˀD, *D *T) and on the later palatalisation trend. This would have been quite likely due to contacts with a branch related to Ugric or Samoyedic (Kallio 2001).

3.1.4.1. Tocharian–Indo-Iranian contacts

Common developments with Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan include (Carling 2004):

·       Innovative transition from inflection to agglutination and group inflection attributed to a non-Indo-European influence. This includes:

o   The collapse of the eight-case system, most likely at an early date and partly due to the loss of final syllables, although this must have taken place over a long period (and be still active e.g. by the time ‘Buddha was adopted as CmToch. *put > *pät, and other Indo-Aryan borrowings in both Toch. A and Toch. B). This process paralleled that of Indo-Aryan evolution from Old Indo-Aryan (Vedic and Sanskrit) to the break down in Middle Indo-Aryan as a result of internal pressures and phonological erosion extending over a period of more than a thousand years, but the circumstances and periods are different, so at best one could propose a similar ‘areal contact’ influencing both branches.

o   Restructuralisation of the verbal system, determined by factors such as valence and aktionsart, an innovation proper to Tocharian.

·       PT *kercäpā- (<*ghordhobho-) is equivalent to Skt. gardabhá- (<*ghordhebho-), both meaning ‘donkey, ass’, with common PIE suffix for animals *-bho (cf. Gk. elaphós ‘red-deer’, Skt. vabhá- ‘bull’). It has been suggested that it was an early borrowing, before the merger of non-high vowels in Indo-Iranian, or else we would expect *kertepo (Adams 2013). The change of stem may suggest a rather early loanword, possibly during the migration of Pre-Tocharian to the east through Pre-Proto-Indo-Iranian territory.

·       Skt. śroi ‘the hips and loins, buttocks’ is translated as Toch. B oñi ‘hip, groin’, which is probably from Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan *āni PT *āni, since later Indo-Aryan borrowings do not show the change PT *ā Toch. B o visible here (Pinault 2003).

·       PT *aime Toch. B. ime (Toch. A ime is a loanword from Toch. B) ‘consciousness, awareness; thought; memory, recollection’ has been proposed to be a loanword from the same source as Skt. *vidmán- ‘knowledge’, from LPIE *eidmen- (Adams 2013) which would put the borrowing around the Proto-Indo-Iranian period.

·       CmToch. *iścäko ‘clay, brick’, corresponds to an Indo-Iranian group of words of non-IE origin meaning ‘brick’, cf. Ved. íṣṭakā-, OPers išti, NPers. xišt (see below §3.4.3. Asian agricultural substratum). A similar donor language with the characteristic *-ka suffixation may be behind Toch. B ecake, A śiśäk ‘lion’, Skt. siha-ka- ‘lion’, including Arm. inj ‘leopard’, also found in two distinct borrowings in Old Chinese.

·       A West Semitic loan ḫāru ‘donkey’ is probably the origin in Mesopotamia of Proto-Indo-Iranian *khara-, Toch. B *koro ‘mule’ (Kroonen, Barjamovic, and Peyrot 2018).

Other, later Indo-Aryan and Iranian contacts are reviewed in detail in Carling (2004).

3.1.4.2. Tocharian–Chinese contacts

Old Chinese and Tocharian contacts are also described in detail by Lubotsky and Starostin (2003), and are interesting in so far as they suggest the early presence of Proto-Tocharian in Chinese Turkestan at least by the mid–2nd millennium BC:

·       PT *mät, CmToch. *mit → OCh. *mit, Mid. Ch. *mjit ‘honey’.

·       Terms for chariot and chariot gear.

·       OCh. *C-luu-ʔ ‘rice, rice-paddy’ CmToch. *klu ‘rice’.

·       OCh. *raap ‘winter sacrifice’ CmToch. *rāp-.

·       CmToch. *rie (<DIE *rih-ah?) ~ OCh. *rə-ʔ ‘walled city’ (attested in 11th-9th c. BC), with direction of borrowing unclear. A potential IE origin could be found in *riH-én, from *er (<**dh-er?) ‘close’, potentially connected to Lat. urbs (Adams 1980)

·       OCh. *truŋ ‘middle’ or maybe Mid.Ch. *dungH (< OCh. *looŋ-) ‘cave, grotto’ CmToch. *trunk ‘hollow, cave’.

Further borrowings, clearly after the Old Chinese period and during the Early Middle Chinese (transition period ca. 200 BC – AD 400) are relatively abundant and cover semantic fields of economy, techniques, and institutions, and are shared with neighbouring Sogdian and Khotanese languages.

3.1.4.3. Tocharian–Turkic contacts

Turkic borrowings are probably late, although some early contacts have been proposed:

·       CmToch. *kënëk ‘cotton cloth’, cf. Chor. kcynyk ‘silk fabric’.

·       CmToch. *tmān- ‘ten thousand, a myriad’, apparently a Central Asian wanderword occurring in Altaic, Iranian, and probably Chinese.

·       Toch. B ka, A ko ‘sun, day’ compared with Uigh. kün, Turkm. gün etc. ‘sun, day’, probably from a Common Tocharian stage.

·       Toch. B pärśeri ‘flea’, cf. Tatar börce, Kumyc bürce ‘flea’.


 

3.1.5. Schleicher’s fable in Proto-Tocharian

āuu̯ i̯äku̯ās-ai

āuu̯ këtë i̯oku̯ëns stākāt

i̯äku̯ëns li̯ākā;

cëm krāmrent kleke klekā,

cëm mākā krāmäre,

cëm ćāumom drumër preñtsam.

ëñāne āuu̯ i̯äku̯ëns:

āräñce ñäś upatāpi krunär,

eku̯em lākānt i̯äku̯ëns ākent.”

i̯äku̯ās u̯ëñānte: “päkleuṣ au̯i!

āräñce ësäm upatāpi krunär lākānt,

eku̯e, ćaiske, au̯insä i̯oku̯ë

mäkcë emälem u̯ästsi kläutkāsktär,

au̯insä-u̯ai i̯oku̯ë mā nësti.”

tëm kekleuṣoṣ āuu̯ erpii̯em mäkātă.

A common PT nom. pl. cannot be reconstructed: Toch. B points to a remade plural in *-i (as in Italic and Greek), while Toch. A points to a remade plural in *-nes. Here, the common PIE pl. *-es (thematic *-ōs) is used.