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Tocharian was another language family that diverged from the Indo-European protolanguage quite early. Tocharian is one of the more recently discovered Indo-European languages, first recognized in the early decades of the 20th century in texts from Chinese Turkestan. The texts were comparatively easy to decipher because they were written in a variant of the Brahmi script and were mainly translations from known Buddhist writings.

Not long ago, the British scholar W. N. Henning suggested that the Tocharians be identified with the Gutians, who are mentioned in Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions (in Akkadian, a Semitic language) dating from the end of the third millennium B.C., when King Sargon was building the first great Mesopotamian Empire.

If Henning's views are correct, the Tocharians would be the first Indo-Europeans to appear in the recorded history of the ancient Near East. Lexical affinities of Tocharian with Italo-Celtic give evidence that the speakers of the two language families had associated in the Indo-European homeland before the Tocharians began their migration eastward. The diverging pathways of linguistic transformation and human migration may now be traced back to a convergence in the Indo-European protolanguage and its homeland. This has followed from the revision in the canons of phonology we mentioned above.

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