Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part 2:Winters' Response to Burlak's Meroitic and Tocharian: Cognate Linguistic Features

Clyde Winters response to Burlak’s Meroitic & Tocharian Part 2: Cognate Linguistic Features

S.A. Burlak, in Meroitic and Tocharian: From the point of View of a Tocharianists (Sudan & Nubia, Bulletin 12: 99-103) disputes my decipherment of Meroitic: Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1999). The inscriptions ofTanyidamani. Nubica IV und Nubica V., pp.355-388. Herein, I will discuss Dr. Burlak’s propositions and evidence.

6. Burlak claims that Meroitic has too many words that find direct parallels in Tocharian A.

This is explained by the fact that Indians physically took Tocharian A and Kharosthi to the Meroitic Sudan . A direct physical transfer of Tocharian A to the Meroites would explain the abundance of Tocharian-Meroitic cognates.

7.Burlak declares that Tocharian prefers the SOV order

Tocharian is written in various syntax in addition to SOV. . The Tocharian syntax is the result of the fact that most Tocharian text are translations from Sanskrit. And as noted by Werner Winter (1982) Tocharian is written in metrical form. This means that the text must fit the requirements of the meter. As a result, it can be written in any word order SOV or SVO .

8. Burlak (1990) claims that Meroitic does not have negative forms and the pa affix.

This is false. I did discuss the Tocharian prefix pä , which appears in Meroitic as the imperfect prefix which is found in line 19, of the Tanyidamani stela (Winters, pp.366 & 380).

Meroitic does have the Tocharian negative particle. In line 47 of the Tanyidamani stela we read: mi-m-n i s-ne š qor o s-ne Amn pt es. The translation is “Injure him not, go protect the good patron. The monarch to open the Supporter (of ) Aman to manifest praise”. The key terms in Meroitic: mi ‘injure’, -m ‘not’ and –n ‘him’. Mi-m-n reads: “injure not him”.

9. Burlak claims that Tocharian lacks the possessive markers –n/ne ‘his’ and -tō ‘your’.

This is false. Tocharian has these pronouns e.g., Tocharian A tu ‘you’> Meroitic tō, and Tocharian B ne ‘he,his’> Meroitic ne ‘he,his’ (Adams, 1988).

11. Burlak does not understand why there are many synonyms in Meroitic.
There are many synonyms in meroitic because of the absence of certain Meroitic sounds. As a result, certain words beginning with h, q, and k for example have the same meaning. You can have a word which has different phonemes but have the same meaning. For example, look at the letters z and s in English. These phonemes sound similar and when used to spell words does not change the meaning of the word e.g., Am Eng. Civilization and British Eng. Civilisation.


Adams, D.Q. (1988). Tocharian Historical Phonology and Morphology. American Oriental Society.

Winters, Clyde Ahmad. (1999). The inscriptions ofTanyidamani. Nubica IV und Nubica V., pp.355-388.

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