Clyde Winters response to Burlak’s Meroitic & Tocharian Part 9: Conclusion
In conclusion, it is clear from this review that Tocharian is the cognate language to Meroitic. It has been explained that Tocharian was probably a trade language and it was adopted by the Meroites to serve as a means of communication—a lingua franca-- for the diverse populations living in the Meroitic empire.
The ability to reliably predict a linguistic relationship between Kushana and Meroitic, was further confirmation of the Kushana Hypothesis, because the linguistic connections were deducible from prediction. I controlled the Kushana Hypothesis by comparing the statements of the classical writers, with historical, linguistic anthropological and toponymic evidence found not only in Africa, but also India and Central Asia (see Appendix).
I constructed three testable hypotheses in support of the Kushana theory, and it seems only fair that these variables must be disconfirmed, to falsify the Kushana Hypothesis.
Hypothesis 1: If the Meroites used a writing system of non-African origin a tradition mentioning this fact will exist. (Hypothesis confirmed. Classical literature mentions Indian scholars in ancient Meroe.)
Hypothesis: 2. If the classical literature mentions Indians who lived in Egypt influencing the Meroites their should be historical evidence relating to this tradition. (Hypothesis confirmed .Classical literature mentions a King who left his country is mentioned in the Jaina text called the Kalakeharya-Kathanaka.)
Hypothesis: 3. If Classical literature is true about the Indian origin of the Gymnosophists Indians will be found living near the Meroites around the time the Meroitic inscriptions appear. (Hypothesis confirmed. Artifacts and coins with Indian inscriptions have been found in Egypt and Ethiopia.) Failure to disconfirm these theorem, implies validity of my prediction. Burbak (2008) attempted to deny a relationship between Meroitic and Tocharian by making claims that were not supported by the evidence. His claims that the length of words was too short, and selected elements associated with Tocharian was not evident in Meroitic have proven to be false, and did not reflect the significant in roads into reading Meroitic made by Abdalla and Hintze (1979).
My confirmation of the above variables in the Kushana Hypothesis: 1) the presence of Indians in Africa writing in their own scripts; 2) the presence of Kushana sages in India who may have migrated to Meroe;3) cognate lexical items; 4)cognate verbs and 5) cognate grammatical features; indicates systematic controlled, critical and empirical investigation of the question of Tocharian representing the Meroitic cognate language.
The evidence that the Classical references to an Indian King who conquered the Scythians is supported by the Indian literature, provides external corroboration of the tradition that some of the Meroites were of Indian origin. The presence of Indian traders and settlers in Meroe (and Egypt), makes it almost impossible to deny the possibility that Indians, familiar with the Tocharian trade language did not introduce this writing to the Meroites who needed a neutral language to unify the diverse ethnic groups who made up the Meroite state. In relation to the history of linguistic change and bilingualism, it is a mistake to believe that linguistic transfer had to take place for the Meroites to have used Tocharian, when it did not take place when they wrote in Egyptian hieroglyphics for hundreds of years.
The Classical literature makes it clear that Indians physically settled in the Meroitic Empire. It was these Indians who probably introduced Kharosthi writing and the Tocharian A language. The direct transfer of Tocharian A to the Meroites by Indian scholars would explain why the language of the Meroitic inscriptions are written in Tocharian A .
Burbak (2008) failed to illustrate that Tocharian and Meroitic were not related because he did not know that textual and archaeological material indicated that the Classical literature made it clear that Indians lived in the Meroitic empire. This provided evidence that Indians physically introduced Tocharian and the Kharosthi script to the Meroites. The physical transfer of Tocharian and Kharosthi by the Gymnosophists would explain why a specific Kushana language: Tocharian A was used to write Meroitic.
My research into Kushana or Tocharian has led me to recognize that this language was probably used as a lingua franca or trade language in Central Asia by the diverse peoples living there in an intense bilingual environment (Winters 1996a, 1996b). Winters (1991,1998) has illustrated how the Greek and Slavic terms in Tocharian were loanwords, absorbed by Tocharian after the Greek conquest of Bactria.
This borrowing pattern was consistent with the spread of the Greek language into Bactria by a small elite group of warriors.The classical and Egyptian sources make it clear that Upper Nubia and the Sudan was inhabited by numerous tribes. The possible early use of Kushan\Tocharian as a trade language made it an ideal candidate for use by the Meroitic elites who ruled an empire that was made up of many diverse ethnic groups as the language for literate Meroites
The evidence is clear Meroitic was a lingua franca that allowed the diverse people of the Meroitic Empire to communicate in a common language. I have never argued that the Kushites abandoned their native language or that Meroitic was spoken anywhere except in the Meroitic Sudan.
I have argued, and supported with evidence the fact that the Kushites. never wrote their inscriptions in a Kushite language. They used lingua francas to unite the diverse speakers in the Napatan and Meroitic civilizations first Egyptian and later Meroitic.
This is supported by the abundance of Kushite documents written in Egyptian before the introduction of Meroitic. the Napatans and Meroites wrote their inscriptions in Egyptian until the Egyptians became a sizable minority in the Meroitic Empire.
The Kushites had a tradition of using a non-Kushite language to record their administrative and political religious activities due to the numerous and diverse subjects from different tribes they ruled. Since the Meroitic and Napatan documents were written in Egyptian there is no lexical evidence of the languages spoken by the Kushites and other groups in the inscriptions left by these people.
The classical literature makes it clear that there was a connection between the Gymnosophists (of Meroe) and the Indians. The fact that historical events mentioned in the classical sources are found in the Indian literature confirm the view that there were Indian-Meroites who could have introduced the Tocharian trade language to the Meroites. And that since Meroitic was probably a lingua franca, the Kushites would not have had to abandon their own native language while using Meroitic for purposes of communication.
The discovery that Tocharian is cognate to Meroitic has led to the full decipherment of the Meroitic script. We can now translate Meroitic using Tokharian. This allows us to obtain new information about the Meroitic civilization.