Volume 20, No.3 - Fall 1974
Editors of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright 1974 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.


The Pennsylvania State University

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a few parallels in the development of the Baltic and Tokharian languages. For the readers of Lituanus I don't believe that it is necessary to say anything about the origin of the Baltic languages. On the other hand I should like to recall the position of Tokharian among the Indo-European languages. According to Krause - Thomas, 1960, 37, Tokharian is a centum language which is known to us from a number of manuscript fragments of the 6th to 8th centuries A.D. These fragments are found in the northwestern part of East (or Chinese) Turkestan. The documents are for the most part in book form and are written with a reed pen, although sometimes they were written on birch bark or Chinese scrolls with brushes. There are also some wooden tablets used for monastery accounts and caravan passes. In addition there are some picture inscriptions and various graffiti.

The name Tokharian is ascribed to this people on the basis of a scribal colophon in Uighur (Old Turkish). Nevertheless more recent research has made it seem likely that this name is erroneous. On the other hand the name has nothing to do with the speakers of Iranian Tokharian, who are known in Greek sources as Tkharoi, in Sanskrit as Tukhra and in Chinese as Tuholo. But since the name Tokharian has become rooted in scholarly tradition it is customary now to retain it.

Tokharian exists in two large groups of dialects which are usually known as A and B respectively. Dialect A is known from the northeastern part of the Tarim river basin, i.e., from the area of the Turfan and Qaraahr oases. Texts from dialect B, however, are known both from the southwestern area around Ku as well as from the northeastern area. It seems likely, however, that dialect A is the native language of the kingdom of Agni, whereas dialect B is the native language of the kingdom of Kui. The appearance of B texts in the region of Agni is connected with the Buddhist mission in that region. Generally dialect A is known as East Tokharian and dialect B is known as West Tokharian.

One of the most striking phonological parallels between Baltic and Tokharian is the palatalization of consonants by following front vowels. Thus, for example, Indo-European *k > Tokharian cf. Tokh. B nom. sg. lyak 'thief, nom. pl. lyi, Indo European *t > Tokharian c, Tokh. B nom. sg. pcer 'father' (cf. Lat. pater, Gk. patr, etc.), Indo-European *n > Tokharian ñ, cf. Tokh. B meñe (cf. Lith. acc. sg. mnes), etc. This phenomenon must be considered parallel development in Baltic and Tokharian since standard Latvian does not palatalize consonants before following front vowels. Lithuanian clearly does and I believe that Old Prussian did (as Endzelns, 1943, 18, suggests), cf. the variant spellings of the word for 'fifth': pyienkts, pincts, pienckt, penckts.

I can also point to a parallelism in the development of the vocalic system of Lithuanian and Tokharian. A. J. Van Windekens, the famous Tokharian specialist, has pointed out, 1964, 297, that Indo-European * is rendered by Tokharian a in a word-medial position, whereas it is rendered by Tokharian o in word-final position. I am convinced that in principle Van Windekens is right, but that originally there was a merger of the representatives of Indo-European * and * to give a Proto-Tokharian vowel *. Thus in word-medial position we will in principle find Tokharian representing both Indo-European * and *. An example of the passage of Indo-European * to Tokharian is furnished by Tokh. B mcer, A mcar, cf. Lat. mter. Gk. (Doric) mtr. Lith. mteris, etc. Van Windekens, 1963, 189-190, also gives Tokh. B ps- A psk 'hten, schtzen, ben' which he connects with Latin psco 'to pasture'. He adds, however, that one could also just as well posit Indo-European *p(i), a root which is to be found in Gk. p 'flock' and Skt. pti 'protects, guards'. Likewise Tokh. B kw 'to shout, to call' can be connected with Skt. hv in hvtar 'Anrufer', Aventan zbtar 'Rufer, Anrufer' which could be traced back to Indo-European *ĝhau or *ghu. Tokh. B akntsa 'mad, stupid' cannot be separated either from Gk. ágntos or Skt. ajñta 'unknown', see Van Windekens, 1963, 196.

Thus the merger of Indo-European * and * as Proto-Tokharian * seems well assured in word-medial position. Now Van Windekens has pointed out, 1964, 281, that there are some feminine nouns which have an alternation Tokharian B -o, : -a or B -o : -iye: preyo 'Zeit', beside preciya and preya; wertsyo 'Versammlung, Gefolge' beside werts(i)ya; maiyyo 'Kraft, Gewalt' beside maiyya; prosko 'Furcht, Besorgnis, Gefahr' beside proskiye; yoko 'Durst' beside yok(i)ye; swñco 'Strahl' beside swañciye. He also notes Tokh. skiyo 'shadow' which is to be compared with Gk. skía.

I should now like to point out an interesting parallel between the Tokharian situation and that found in the Lithuanian catechism of Mavydas. Here the representation of Proto-Baltic * presents a varied picture. Stang, 1929, 48, has determined that in word-medial and in secondary word-final position the Proto-Baltic * is represented by orthographic o in about 3.9 per cent of the cases of its occurrence. Elsewhere it is represented by the letter a. Stang says, however, 'Betrachtet man dann das Verhltnis im absoluten, botonten Auslaut, findet man aber ein ganz anderes Bild. Von 115 Fllen von urlit. *ã [ *-á war nach Leskiens Gesetz gekrzt] haben 40 (34,80%) o. Die betreffenden Formen sind alle Partikeln und Pronomina." Stang, 1929, 49, concludes: "Man hat daher wahrscheinlich mit zwei Abarten des zu rechnen: einem geschlosseneren (oa) im betonten, absoluten Auslaut, und einem offeneren (a°) in den anderen Fllen."

I propose then that in Tokharian B, as in Lithuanian, the change of Indo-European * to o was taking place in word-final position faster than in other positions. The parallel then is clear. In both Old Lithuanian and Tokharian an earlier was beginning to pass to o. In word-final position this phonological change was taking place faster than elsewhere. This explains the vacillation in the writing of o and a in both languages.

Within Tokharian there is even disagreement in the rendering of Proto-Tokharian *. We find, for example, Tokh. B procer 'brother', proskiye 'fear' beside Tokh. A pracar, praski. I assume that the passage of * to o had begun to take place in Tokharian B and that the relationship of Tokh. B procer to Tokh. A pracar is similar to that between Lith. brolis on the one hand and Latvian brl on the other.

There are a number of morphological parallels, but here I propose to confine myself to just one curious phenomenon. It is customary to trace the -u of the Lithuanian first singular preterit ending back to the -u which was the result of the shortening of the Proto-Baltic ending *-uo < Indo-European *-. Thus Endzelns, 1957, 159, writes: 'In Lithuanian and Latvian this o- stem ending has been transferred to the inflection of the present tense of the -stems and the past tense of the - and -stems and has thereby replaced Indo-European -mi of -m; e.g., Lith. sakaũ, vilkaũ ( > Latv. saku '(I) say', vìlku '(I) dragged') with -au in place of Indo-European -m(i) and Lith. merkiaũ '(I) soaked' (> Latv. mrcu) < *merku. where -u is found in place of Indo-European -m.'

There is, however, a Tokharian first person singular verbal ending (athematic) -u or (thematic) -au in Tokharian B. We find, for example, the first singular present and conjunctive form yoku 'I drink' (with present meaning). The thematic form is found, for example, in Tokh. B nesau 'I am', samau 'I sit', yamaskau 'I do, make' (see Krause-Thomas, 1960, 255).

The u or v element is also encountered in the first singular present of Lydian, cf. kantor-u 'I entrust', n-u 'I sanctify', kov 'I swear', see evorokin, 1969, 40-41. (Lydian is an ancient language of Asia Minor known from 64 inscriptions, the majority of which were discovered in the territory of the ancient Sards, see evorokin, 1969, 11). Lycian, another language of ancient Asia Minor has one verb nadau, the subject of which is amu T, see Neumann, 1969, 389.

As we can see from the Lydian example the endings -u and -v (or -w) were in complementary distribution. There is no great surprise in this, since [u] and [v] were allophones of the same phoneme in Indo-European.

We also find the -u() or -w() element in the first singular of non-present tenses elsewhere in Indo-European, cf. Vedic 1st sg. and 3rd sg. jajñau 'knew', Latin (g)nu-, Vedic papráu, Latin -plu-, Hittite 1st sg. -u(-n). See Watkins, 1969, 53 ,Watkins claims that this -u was a Wurzelerweiterung which was segmented from the root by analogy from those forms which did not have this Wurzelerweiterung. He adds, however: 'Aber wenn wir auch das Element -u- als ursprngliche Wurzelerweiterung identifizieren knnen, wissen wir doch nicht, warum oder wie es dazu kamm, mit dem Perfekt (oder im Armenischen mit dem Aorist-) assoziert zu weren, noch knnen wir seine 1, Sg. Funktion neben 3 Sg. im Indischen oder die ausschliesslich 1. Sg. Funktion im heth. 1. Sg. Prt, -u(-n), luw. 1. Sg. Prs. -u(-i), oder toch. B prekwa (u + Prt. -), A ymwe (-u-ai) erklren.' 

I would suggest that this form goes back to a stage of Indo-European when the verb did not show grammatical agreement for person and number with the subject, i.e., when Indo-European was an isolating language much like Chinese. At this early stage the elements -i, and -u were merely deictic elements, -i denoting 'here and now' and -u denoting 'then and there'. At a later stage the original aspectual formants -s- and -t- came to be associated with persons, then the -u(-) and in some cases -i(-) came to be associated with the first person. Usually -s(-). came to be associated with the second person singular, but this did not always happen, cf. Tokharian A 3rd sg. plks 'shines' or the third person singular ending -s in English.

In any case we find this element in the first person singular of the Tokh. B preterit prekwa, Tokh. A prekw. Thus the -u of Lith. saka ũ 'I say' and suka-ũ 'I twisted' may derive from an Indo-European ending -u and have nothing to do with that -u which derives from Proto-East Baltic *-uo < *-.

From the foregoing it is obvious that I do not agree with Holger Pedersen, 1941, 141, who finds the similarity between Lith. daraũ 'I do, make', sukaũ 'I twisted' and the Tokharian forms mentioned quite fortuitous. Perhaps this is why there is no mention of this similarity in Kazlauskas, 1968; Fraenkel, 1950; or Stang, 1966. Szemernyi, 1970, 228-229, mentions the notion that the Baltic and Tokharian endings might be compared, but comes out strongly against the idea.

Obviously much more could be said about Baltic-Tokharian relationships, but I have attempted here to ' point out several parallel phonological developments, viz. the development of palatalization of consonants by following front vowels, and the passage of * to o and one possible morphological similarity, viz. the appearance of the ending -u in the first person singular of the verb.


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