My decipherment of Meroitic indicates that many terms
alleged to be Meroitic by Griffith and others must be discarded. I am forced to
ignore the proposed meaning for some proposed Meroitic lexical items because
they do not agree with my research into Meroitic. But I accept some of the
alleged Meroitic terms as being verified by my decipherment both due to their Egyptian
origin, or affinity to Tokharian terms.
I explain in detail how to read Meroitic in my Book Meroitic Writing and Literature.
It must be remembered that most of the alleged Meroitic lexical items were
simply guesses by the researchers. These terms become valid only when they can
be read in all the Meroitic text and have consistent meaning. I found that some
of these terms are homonyms, while other terms "discovered " by
Griffith and others were good guesses that do not prove valid given our
discovery of the cognate language of Meroitic.
There are several recognized Meroitic words (Hintze 1979).The following words
correspond to Tokharian words:
Ø kadke / ktke # queen……………… Ø katak # master of the house
Ø ato # water ……………………………………… Ø ap
#Ø s # 'race'……………………………………………………… Ø sah # 'man'
Ø wide # youth ……………………………………………… Ø wir #
Ø qor # monarch ……………………………………………. Ø oroce # 'the grand king'
Ø parite # agent……………………………………………… Ø parwe # 'first'
Ø apote # 'envoy'………………………………………………..Ø ap # 'father'
It is obvious that apote and parite do not relate to Tokharian because these
are Egyptian loan words adopted by the Meroites. But around 57% of these terms
show agreement. This made it highly probable that Meroitic and Tokharian were
The grammar of Meroitic determined by Hintze (1979) allowed us to also make
comparisons with Tocharian to test the Kushana hypothesis for reading Meroitic.
This comparison of grammatical structures showed cognition between this
language and Meroitic.
Hintze was sure that there were a number of Meroitic affixes including:
B.G. Trigger in his "Commentary" (Hintze 1979) mentioned several
other possible Meroitic affixes including:
In addition , A. M. Abdalla in his "Commentary" (Hintze
1979)mentioned three possible verbal suffixes , including:
These alleged Meroitic grammatical elements encouraged me to seek out a
language that contained these typological features as the possible cognate
language for Meroitic. The Kushana language includes all of these affixes.
Researchers working on Meroitic determined several possible prefixes:
In Tokharian we find these prefixes: p(ä),
imperfect prefix and imperative, y-
element joined to demonstratives, and yopsa ‘in between’.
There are other affixes that relate to the Meroitic suffixes including –te, the
demonstrative ‘this, etc.’; -o,
the suffix used to
change nouns into adjectives. For example: aiśamñe
Other Tokharian affixes which agree with Meroitic include –te
Tokharian locative suffix is –te
. The ending particle in
Tokharian is –l.
The Meroitic –t
, corresponds to the –t
In Tokharian the pronouns are placed at the end of words: nas-a-m
‘he says’, träkä-t
The –t element in Tokharian can also be used to represent the third person
singular e.g., kälpa-t
‘he found’.The p-,
used to form the imperative in Tokharian and imperfect . This affix is used in
both Tokharian A and B. For example,Tokh.A klyos
hear, to listen"p(a)klyos
listens"Tokh. B klyausp(a)klyaus
, "to lay, to
'you lay'B. tes, tas
put, to lay'ptes
The Tokharian -n-, has many uses in Tokharian. It can be used to form the
subjuntive, e.g., yam
'to do', yaman
do(es). It is also used to form the plural se
'cities'.The plural in Tokharian is formed by
Recognition of analogous structural elements in relation to Kushana and
Meroitic allowed us to divide the Meroitic phonemes into words. Griffith
provided us with evidenec for selected Meroitic nouns.
Abdalla (Hintze 1979, 149) was sure that he detected several common verbs in
Following this lead we searched the Kushan language to determine if it
possessed any verbs that might match the proposed hypothetical verbs of
Abdalla. A comparison of Kushan and Meroitic proved to be successful. We now
know that he was absolutely right about his interpretation of possible Meroitic
Below is the interpretation of these Meroitic verbs:
hr , to have dignity
the , suggested posssible to move
tk , to set in motion, to investigate
w-e , to give escort
pl , to boast, to praise
m-de , measure the offering
y i m-de go make (full) measure of the offering
Recognition of these Meroitic terms as verbs gave us any more confirmation that
Kushana was probably the Meroitic cognate language. This discovery of Meroitic
verbs and nouns, and cognate toponomies in Central Asia and Upper-Nubia-Sudan
proved that Meroitic could be read using Kushana lexical items.
The discovery that Tokharian 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
My research into Kushana or Tokharian 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). C. A. Winters (1991) has illustrated how the Greek and
Slavic terms in Tokharian were loanwords, absorbed by Tokharian 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\Tokharian 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
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