|From:||Jan van Steenbergen <ijzeren_jan@...>|
|Date:||Monday, July 8, 2002, 12:23|
--- John Cowan wrote:
I should have known! John, the Walking Encyclopaedia, made it earlier than I
It is a very nice article, indeed. It has been in my favourites for a long
time, but the link has been dead for some time. I'm glad it's there again!
The problem with Tocharian is that almost all materials that survived are
translations from Sanskrit. This made it quite easy to decypher the language,
but provides us with little information about the culture.
The Tocharoi, if I remember correctly, were a yet unidentified tribe mentioned
in ancient documents, and when Tocharian was discovered, the name was attached
to it without any evidence (or even: disregarding counterevidence) that the two
Another theory links the Tocharian speakers to a tribe referred to by the
Chinese as "Yu-Chi".
Even more interesting is the recent discovery of a bunch of mummies on
Tocharian territory. What is interesting about them, is that they are white,
have reddish or blonde hairs, and tall faces, which makes them more European
than Asiatic. They don't tell us anything about the language they spoke, but it
seems probable that they have been Tocharian-speakers.
Another thing, that has always irritated me a bit, is the fact that Tocharian A
and B are always referred to as dialects of the same language, while they are
quite clearly two separate languages. Don't they even deserve a name, or what?
Tocharian B, or West-Tocharian, is sometimes referred to as "Kuchean", since it
was discovered near Kucha. Tocharian A, or East-Tocharian, was found in Turfan
and is sometimes referred to as "Turfanian" or "Agnean". If I remember
correctly, they had a native name for their language: Arsi.
"Originality is the art of concealing your source." - Franklin P. Jones
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> On the basis of references in Old Turkic manuscripts to
> the speakers of this language as the "Twghry," (pronounced
> /toxri/) these people were identified as the Tocharoi, a
> tribe mentioned in classical Greek writings as having lived
> in Bactria (eastern Iran and Afghanistan) in the second
> century A.D. Thus, the language was called Tocharian [....]
> Although it is customarily pronounced /tokarian/ by English
> speakers, a more correct pronunciation is /toxarian/. [...]
> Whether or not the speakers of these dialects were truly
> the Tocharoi is open to debate. [...] Attempts to
> positively identify the Tocharians have thus far proved
> unsuccessful. However, the name of the language stuck and
> has survived to this day in the literature on the subject.
> This is a very interesting short article, BTW, which would certainly
> belong in the Conlang Journal except for the unfortunate fact that
> its contents are true....