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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the name for two closely related extinct languages comprising a separate branch in the Indo-European language family; their relationship to the other Indo-European languages was demonstrated in 1908 by the German scholars E. Sieg and W. Siegling.

In the sixth and seventh centuries, the Tocharian languages were spoken in Eastern Turkestan (Sinkiang Province). Their name is arbitrary, coming from the name of the Tochari, who spoke an Eastern Iranian language. The self-designation of the Tocharian speakers is not known. Therefore, one of the two Tocharian languages has come to be known as Tocharian A (East Tocharian) and the other as Tocharian B (West Tocharian); they are sometimes also called Turfanian and Kuchean, respectively, after the principal cities in which texts were found. Manuscripts and a certain number of inscriptions from the fifth to eighth centuries, consisting of translations of Buddhist literature, were written in Brahmi, a special type of Indian syllabic writing. Few of the original texts have been discovered.

The Tocharian languages are characterized by isoglosses, which associate them with the western Indo-European languages. The Indo-European voiced and voiceless consonants coincide in a single series of voiceless consonants. Other features of the Tocharian languages include a pronounced ramification of the verb system; the development of a multicase agglutinative paradigm, possibly under the influence of a local substratum; the existence of group inflection in the noun; and the presence in the nominal system of a dual, paired, and plurative in addition to the singular and plural. Adjectives in Tocharian do not have degrees of comparison. There are many borrowings from Indian and Iranian languages.

By the ninth and tenth centuries the Turkic Uighurs had assimilated the speakers of the Tocharian languages. The first texts were published in Russia in 1892 by S. Ol’denburg. Other texts, which have been preserved mainly in France and the Federal Republic of Germany, have not been published in full.


Tokharskie iazyki. Moscow, 1959.
Sieg, E., and W. Siegling. Tocharische Grammatik. Göttingen, 1931.
Krause, W., and W. Thomas. Tocharisches Elementarbuch, vols. 1–2. Heidelberg, 1960–64.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
227-67) continue to be useful for reading Tocharian A texts.
The editors inform us that "It would be difficult to imagine any training in reading Tocharian texts of both languages without the translations that have been provided by Sieg" (p.
This book may represent a turning point in Tocharian B studies for several reasons.
Tocharian B dialect studies took a big step forward in 1955 when Werner Winter identified three geographic dialects: Western from Min-Oy Qizil, Central from Sorcuq, and Eastern from Murtuq/Singim.
Peyrot concludes that "archaic Tocharian B is the language of fifth or perhaps even late fourth century Kuca, and that it was both spoken and written" (p.
This idiosyncracy is disconcerting, as he does elsewhere use the macron, such as in Tocharian klank - on the same page as qiang in the last example (p.
The TITUS project at the University of Frankfurt has succeeded in digitizing nearly all of the Tocharian manuscripts in the possession of the PreuBischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin, so that these may now be accessed and studied by anyone with a working Internet connection.
The publication of Instrumenta Tocharica marks a major milestone in the opening of Tocharian philology to a wider audience, and especially to students and nonspecialists.
The following section, devoted to "Collections and Concordances," has as its centerpiece Melanie Malzahn's article on "Tocharian Texts and Where to Find Them" (pp.
Saito rightly observes that the PP has remained one of the most obscure formations in Tocharian. particularly with regard to its formal history and relation to the rest of the verbal system, but also because PPs to transitive verbs can have both active and passive meaning, i.e., the governed noun phrase may be either the agent or patient of the verb.
This reviewer was looking forward with great anticipation to a new and updated treatment of the formal history and origins of the Tocharian PP, one that would take into account the important advances in our understanding of Tocharian historical phonology and morphology over the past generation, as well as recent debates over the reconstruction of the PIE verbal system.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this is the fundamental synchronic division of Tocharian verbal roots (cf.