Clyde Winters response to Burlak’s Meroitic & Tocharian Part 7: Burlak claims that too many Tocharian words used to read Meroitic does not have an Indo-European origin.
12. Burlak believes Winters’ decipherment of Meroitic and use of Tocharian words to read Meroitic must be wrong, because the Tocharian words used by Winters to read Meroitic have no plausible Indo-European etymology.
This is a silly complaint. The fact that the Tocharian words used to read and translate Meroitic do not have an Indo-European etymology should have nothing to do with using Kushana words to read Meroitic.
Burlak (2008) acknowledges that many attested Tocharian terms are “hapax legomena, or have unknown meaning. The vocabulary of both languages is full of loan-words which are themselves not recognized and etymologised. Additionally there are many words which may be either native or loan” (p.99). If many of the terms recognized as Tocharian, are not I-E in origin Burlak’s complaint about the origination of Tocharian terms used to read Meroitic is quite petty, since many Tocharian terms lack I-E etymology in the first place and he already recognizes this fact in his article.
Winters (1990) has argued that their ancestral culture was the Qijia culture of western China. The Chinese claimed that the Tocharians called themselves Kushana > Kuishuang. The Qijia culture is characterized by domesticated cattle, sheep and pig. This culture existed from the upper Weishui Valley in the east, the Huangshui Valley of Qijia in the West, Ningxia and the westernmost Inner Mongolia in the north.
This was the most advanced agro-pastoral group in early China (Chang 1987:283). The Qijia pottery signs are analogous to those found in the Harappan writing and on Harappan pottery (Chang 1987:283).
Many Indo-Europeanists would agree that the spread of the Pit Grave and Andronovo cultures of the 3rd and 2nd millennium B.C., may reflect the Indo-Iranian infilling of the steppe zone Mallory 1989; Sherratt & Sherratt, 1988). This view is complicated by Tocharian which reflects little affinity to Indo-Iranian.
To explain this anomaly Tocharianists argue that Tocharian early separated from its Proto-Indo-European neighbors (Adams 1995). An additional argument used to explain the difference between Tocharian and the Iranian speakers is the theory that Tocharian is a "western" Indo-European language that early lost contact with its cogeners, but reflects palatals that place it in the centum I-E branch (Pulleyblank 1995). This second hypothesis is used to explain the numerous archaisms in Tocharian and the few common innovations shared by Tocharian and speakers of the "western" Indo-European languages (Adams 1995:411). But Adams (1995) makes it clear that:” Subsequent investigation has led to the conclusion that Tocharian is not closely related to any other Indo-European branch. Shared lexical innovations do tend to show a greater degree of relationship with various western branches of Indo-European than with the eastern ( i.e., Indo-Iranian) but the lexical associations are not very overwhelming" (p.404).
The Sherratts (1988) have suggested two solutions to the Tocharian "problem". The first solution is that Tocharian may represent the earliest phase of Indo-European migration from the Proto-Indo-European homeland. The alternative solution is that Tocharian is a late Indo-European language associated with trade along the Silk Road (Sherratt 1988:587; Winters, 1998).
In 1908 Sieg and Siegling published their findings that Tocharian was an IE language. This discovery was accepted without any challenge. But Ringe (1995) maintains that although Tocharian is an IE language "the Tocharian languages do not closely resemble any other IE languages. In other words Tocharian is a separate "branch" of the I-E family, on a par with Germanic, Greek, Indo-Iranian, etc." (p.439).
Tocharian does not detail many features associated with I-E languages. For example, Tocharian fails to illustrate original cases associated with I-E nouns. Moreover, whereas I-E languages are grammatically synthetic, in contrast Tocharian is an agglutinative language. For example, grammatically Latin illustrates a genitive case and nominative case.
Although Tocharian is accepted as an IE language there is disturbing linguistic evidence that makes it difficult to properly place Tocharian in the IE family. A large part of the vocabulary of Tocharian detailed etymology. There is considerable influence on Tocharian from Sanskrit and Iranian due to Buddhism. Tocharian also shares many phonological and word formational and lexical correspondences with Balto-Slavic languages.
J.Van Windekens (1976) has compared Tocharian and IE vocabularies and established the following Tocharian isoglosses, ranked as follows: 1) Germanic, 2) Greek, 3) Indic, 4-5) Baltic and Iranian, 6) Latin, 7) Slavic, 8) Celtic, 9) Anatolian, 10) Armenian and 11) Albanian. D.Q. Adams (1984) established a different rank order 1) Germanic, 2) Greek, 3) Baltic, 4) Indic, 5) Slavic, 6-8) Latin, Celtic, Iranian, 9) Albanian, 10) Anatolian and 11) Armenian.
Tocharian shares many ancient features with Hittite in noun morphology. For example, Tocharian A e-, B ai- 'to give' : Hittite pai- < pa-ai-; Tocharian A ya- 'to do': Hittite iia-;Tocharian A tkam, B kem 'earth': Hittite tekan.
In relation to Sanskrit and Greek, Tocharian has preserved the mediopassive voice and the presence of both subjunctive and optative mood. The most important evidence of Tocharian relations within the IE family are the Greek and Tocharian cognates: Tocharian A ñkat, B ñakte 'God'; A natäk 'lord', nasi 'lady'; Greek wanakt 'King', *wanakya queen' .
There is also evidence of Sanskrit and Iranian influences in relation to religious and technical terms. Tocharian has a limited association with Iranian, especially in relation to "Old Iranian" or Avestan terms, Bactrian terms and Ossetic terms.
Indo-European archaisms are preserved in Tocharian, Celtic, Phrygian and Anatolian (Mallory 1989:155). In addition, Tocharian, Latin, Irish, Hittite and Phrygian retain the medio-passive ending in -r, e.g., Tocharian A -mar, B -mar; A klyosmar, B klyausemar 'hear'; Latin loquitur, Old Irish labrithir 'speaks'.
Bonfante (1987:77) has observed that Tocharian has old contacts only with Slavic or through Slavic. As a result of this contact Tocharian shares many phonological, word formational and lexical correspondences with Balto-Slavic.
Ringe (1990)believes that many of the Tocharian innovations which link it to the western IE languages may have developed independently in Tocharian and reflect " natural" language changes (Ringe, 1995: 440). Bonfante (1987) list four Tocharian innovations shared with Slavic: 1) IE *eu becomes yu; 2) the prefix so- with perfective value (found Tocharian only in the imperative); 3) Tocharian A rake, B reki; Slavic rec, and 4) Tocharian A sar, B ser, Slavic sestra 'sister'.
Schmidt (1990) has argued that many of the innovations in Tocharian may be the result of substratum influences of non-IE languages. Winters (1988a, 1989, 1991, 1998) has argued that there is a Dravidian substratum to Tocharian.
The Dravidian substratum in Tocharian appears to be from the Tamil and Telugu languages. In addition to lexical items, the Tamil and Tocharian languages possess structural and grammatical analogy. For example, Dravidian and Tocharian share the plural ending element -lu and -u, e.g., Telugu magadu 'man, husband', (pl.) magalu 'men'; Tocharian wast 'house', (pl.) wastu 'houses'.
It is interesting to note that Dravidians and Tocharians share many terms for animals, e.g., Dravidian ku-na 'dog', Tocharian ku 'dog'; and Dravidian kode 'cow', Tocharian ko 'cow'.
There are five different IE roots for horse. This multiplicity of IE roots for horse makes these terms inconclusive for the IE proto-lexicon. This is interesting because the Dravidian term for horse is iyuli, this is analogous to Tocharian yuk (Winters 1988,1991, 1998).
The Tocharian lexicon has also been influenced by Tibetan, Chinese and Uighur (Blazek 1988; Winters 1991). The Sino-Tibetan influence is evident in certain key terms, e.g., Tocharian B plewe 'boat, Gurung plava 'boat', Archaic Chinese plyog and ancient Chinese plyow 'boat'; these terms for boat corresponds with Tamil patavu 'boat'; Tocharian A kuryur, B karyar 'business', purchase', B kary 'to buy', Tibetan-Burmic *kroy , in Burmic Krwè 'debt', Kochin khoi 'borrow or lend'; and Tocharian A and B par 'bring, take', IE *bher 'bring', Tibeto-Burmic *p-, in *par 'trade, buy, sell' and Kannanda bar 'bring'.
The Dravidian and Altaic substratums in Tocharian supports the hypothesis of Winters (1998) and, Andrew and Susan Sherratt (1988) that Tocharian was a trade language. This would also agree with Chinese evidence that the Tocharians migrated into Central Asia from the east, not the northwest.
If Tocharian was a trade language , this would explain the evidence that Tocharian is not a centum language and its illustration of a clear dual contrast in reflexes of the gutturals. This hypothesis also offers an explanation of the great time depth indicated for the separation of Tocharian from Proto-IE.
Central Asia has long been characterized by the habitation of this area by diverse groups. Thus its history is manifested by the infilling of central Asia by various nomadic groups in search of conquest and/or colonization made this part of Asia a centre of pluralistic societies. Given Central Asia's situation as a centre of linguistic fragmentation made the development of a lingua franca advantageous for inter-tribal relations.
A down the line pattern of conquest and settlement by successive non-indigenous populations in Central Asia probably led to extensive bilingualism in central Asia. These bilingual speakers handled trade between the various Central Asian populations, and their trading partners in neighboring countries.
This suggest that down the line exchange directional trade pattern through the use of bilingual speakers at each step of the chain may offer one explanation for the origin of Tocharian as a trade language combining elements and vocabulary from the language spoken by populations of different bilingual speakers participating in the Central Asian exchange system. This means that Tocharian may be a mixed language--a Central Asian lingua franca similar to the Swahili language of east Africa, which combines the Bantu and Arabic languages.
The large corpus of non-IE words in Tocharian discussed by Blazek (1988) and Winters (1988a, 1990, 1991) is congruent with the hypothesis that IE elements in Tocharian, especially Greek (and Slavic) were loanwords into Tocharian after the Greek conquest of Bactria. This borrowing pattern is consistent with the spread of the Greek language into Bactria by a small politically dominant minority of Greek settlers into a far larger and previously long-established non-IE speaking majority population.
The Greco-Bactrians were probably bilingual . Bilingualism can be induced through two methods 1) state coercion or 2) its ability to offer advantages to two or more populations in contact. The latter method of change usually accounts for bilingualism--people use the new language to obtain better access to status, security, ritual or goods. The Greek emphasis on direct methods of political control in Bactria forced many non-Greeks to become bilingual due to its advantage as a tool for greater upward mobility during Greek rule.
The historical and linguistic evidence suggest that convergence in Central Asia, was unidirectional, in that successive IE speaking populations namely Greek and Slavic speakers conquered the indigenous Central Asian Dravidian speakers. This convergence led to the raise of Tocharian as a trade language.
As a result of prolonged bilingual contact between Greek and non-Greek speakers, Tocharian was more than likely an interlanguage used for purposes of trade based on the Greek superstratum and Dravidian substratum. The view that Dravidian was spoken over a large part of Central Asia is supported by the islands of Dravidian speakers found today in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Southern Russia. These pockets of contemporary Dravidian speakers support the archaeological evidence of Dravido-Harappan colonization of Central Asia over 4000 years ago (Winters 1988a,1990).
Tocharian shares linguistic features with Altaic, Greek and Dravidian. These analogies suggest centuries of contact within a multilingual setting.
Over the centuries various nomadic groups have swept into the Central Asian steppes to plunder and conquer sedentary populations, e.g., Greeks, Turks, Sogdians and Sakians. As a result of this conflict, widespread bilingualism became a normal feature of the socio-linguistic reality of ancient Central Asia. This inturn would lead to analogous phonetic surface structures resulting from centuries of interference. The diverse languages spoken in Central Asia around this time would have made a lingua franca necessary to insure trade and communication could effectively and efficiently take pace in this region. Tocharian probably served this purpose, and probably explains the numerous non-I-E features and vocabulary found in Tocharian.
As a result of the Greek influence in Bactria, Bactrians had to acquire "Greek Culture" to enhance their position and opportunity in Bactria during Greek rule, placed prestige on status elements introduced by the Greeks. Status acquired by Bactrians was thus centred around acquisition of Greek language and Greek culture. This would have inturn added pressure on the Bactrians to incorporate Greek terms into a Bactrian lingua franca (i.e., Tocharian).
Given the fact that Greek administrators in Bactria refused to fully integrate Bactrians into the ruling elite led to subsequent generations of native Bactrians to progressively incorporate more Greek terms into their native language. This would explain why Tocharian has many features that relate to certain IE etymologies associated with the Greeks, but illustrates little affinity to Indo-Iranian languages which are geographically and temporally closer to Tocharian.
The influence of colonial Greeks in Central Asia would explain why the most important evidence of Tocharian relations within the IE family are the Greek and Tocharian cognates (Adams, 1984; Mallory 1989: Windekens, 1976).
The Greek invasion/elite dominance model for IE elements in Tocharian is congruent with the linguistic and historical evidence which indicates the early settlement of Central Asia by Dravidian speakers among a diverse Bactrian population that used a Proto-Dravidian language as a lingua franca. This lingua franca: Tocharian, probably allowed intra-ethnic communication in the region. Mallory's (1989:182) hypothesis of a Pontic-Caspian steppe homeland for the Tocharians lacks congruency given the historical evidence for the subjugation of the Bactrians by IE speakers, and a Chinese origin for the Tocharians (Pulleyblank 1995; Winters 1990, 1991).
In summary, Andrew and Susan Sherratt's (1988) hypothesis that trade may have played a role in the raise of Tocharian, may be the best solution for the Tocharian problem. It supports the historical evidence of a strong Greek influence in Central Asia which allowed the Greek language to become a Superstratum of a Dravidian based trade languages which we call Tocharian today.
The Greek colonization of Bactria, made the Greek language a link language between the non-IE languages spoken in Central Asia three thousand years ago, which after many generations of bilingualism led to an interlanguage phenomena that became a permanent feature of the literate speech community in this region. We can define the institutionalization of an interlanguage as language recombination, i.e., the mixing of the vocabulary and structures of the substratum language (Dravidian) and the superstratum language (Greek and later Slavic speaking Saka people) to form a new mixed language: Tocharian.
The "elite dominance model" hypothesis would have two basic consequences in relation to Tocharian linguistics. First, it would account for the correspondence in grammar (especially agglutination) and vocabulary between Dravidian and Tocharian on the one hand, and Tocharian and Indo-European on the other. Secondly, the settlement of the Saka in Bactria after the Greeks, would explain the great topological similarity between Tocharian and Balto-Slavic. The evidence of Saka and Greek conquest of Bactria/ Central Asia confirms the Sherratt (1988) hypothesis that Tocharian may be a trade language, and offers a plausible solution to the non-I-E character of Tocharian.
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.