Turkic and Chinese loan words in Tocharian

Alexander Lubotsky and Sergei Starostin

Turkic loan words in Tocharian

  1. Toch. A koṃ, Toch. B kauṃ 'sun, day' < PToch. *kaun(V)- :: Proto-Turkic *gün(eJ)l*gunal (OUygh. kün 'sun, day', Turkm. gun 'id.', etc.)
    beside Old Turkish kün we find kün tängri, beside Tocharian A kom: komnk t, beside Tocharian B kaum: kaumn kte. The first member of the pair refers to 'day' and 'sun', the second denotes the sun-god"
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/kau%E1%B9%83
  2. Toch. A āle, Toch. B alyiye* 'palm (of the hand)' < PToch. *āl'ye ::Proto-Turkic *aja 'id.' (OUygh. aja, Turkm. āja, etc.) < *alja
    The borrowing must be fairly old, anterior to the loss of -l- in Proto-Turkic *aja < *alja.
  3. Toch. A tor, Toch. B taur 'dust' < PToch. *taur :: Proto-Turkic *tōŕ 'dust' (OUygh. toz, Turkm. tōz)
  4. Toch. B ām* 'silence', adv. 'quietly, still' :: Proto-Turkic *am- 'to be gentle, quiet' (Old Turkic omul, amil 'gentle, quiet')
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%C4%81m
  5. Toch. A kanak, B kenek < PToch. *kenek 'cotton cloth' :: Proto-Turkic *köjŋe-lek, *kojŋek 'shirt' (Karakh. köŋlek, Turkm. köjnek)
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Tocharian/kenek
  6. Toch. B olya 'more' :: Proto-Turkic *ulug 'big, great' (OUygh. uluγ, Turkm. ulu etc.)
    The Tocharian word (also found in a compound olyapo 'more; rather (than)') has no Indo-European etymology, and borrowing is conceivable, although the source of palatalized ly is so far unclear.
  7. Toch. A tmāṃ, Toch. B t(u)māne 'ten thousand, a myriad' < PToch. *t(ə)mane :: Proto-Turkic *Tümen 'ten thousand; very many' (OUygh. tümen, Turkm. tümen)
  8. Toch. B pärśeri* '(head-)louse': Proto-Turkic *bürče 'flea' (Tat. börčɛ, Kum. bürče, Chuv. pb"rza, etc.)
  9. Toch. B yase* 'shame': Proto-Turkic *jās 'loss, damage, shame' (OUygh. jas 'loss, damage', Yak. sät 'shame' etc.)
    The Tocharian word is only attested in a compound yase-kwipe 'shame and modesty (vel s/w.)', which makes it difficult to assess the original quality of the -a-.
  10. Toch. AB kärk- 'rob, steal': Proto-Turkic *Kar-ak 'bandit' (OUygh. qaraq-či, Turkm. Garak etc.)
    The verbal paradigm of kärk- (in B: pres. VI kärknamane, also reflected in a verbal adjective kärkänamo 'robber', Subj. V inf. kärkatsi, Pret. la kärkäte; in A only inf. kärnätsi) is likely to have been taken over from the rhyming tärk- (especially, since the Toch. B compound cowai tärk- also means "to rob') and cannot thus be used as an argument against borrowing.

The presented etymologies seem to indicate an early date of borrowing. Some of the loan words must already have been borrowed during the Common Tocharian period, and some represent the stage anterior to the Proto-Turkic sound changes *lj > j and *ŕ > z. The latter would date the Turco-Tocharian contacts by a period prior to the separation of the Bulgar (Chuvash) branch, most probably around the beginning of our era. The geographical location of Turks at that time is not clear enough, but we may suppose an area somewhere in the vicinity of Turfan, where the oldest Uyghur texts are found.

Chinese loan-words

  1. Toch. AB klu ‘rice’ : Chinese 稻 dào ‘rice plant’ < MC dấw < OC *Łhūʔ
  2. Toch. B rapaññe* ‘of the last month of the year’ : Chinese 臘 là ‘winter sacrifice’ < MC lâp < OC *rāp
  3. Toch. B cāk ‘hundred quarts [dry measure]’ : Chinese 石 shí ‘stone, measure of weight, measure of capacity (= 10 dǒu)’ < MC ʒ́ek < OC diak
  4. Toch. B cāne* a unit of money : Chinese 錢 qián ‘money’ < MC ʒjen < OC ʒ́an
  5. Toch. B tau ‘ten quarts [dry measure]’ : Chinese 斗 dǒu ‘ladle, dipper, measure of dry goods’ < MC tʌ́w < OC tōʔ
  6. Toch. B śak(u)se* ‘brandy’ : Chinese 粟 sù ‘grain (rice or millet) in husk’ < MC sjöuk < OC sok + Chinese 酒 jiǔ ‘wine’ < MC cjə́w < OC cuʔ
  7. Toch. B ṣaṅk, a wet or dry measure of volume (1.1-1.2 liters or 1.2-1.3 quarts) :Chinese 升 shēng ‘a measure of weight (one tenth of a dǒu)’ < MC śiŋ <OC təŋ
  8. Toch. A yāmutsi, Toch. B yāmuttsi a kind of waterfowl [=BHS haṃsa-] :Chinese yīng-wǔ-(zi) 鹦鹉子 < MC ʔạiŋ-mǘ-cjɨ́< OC * ʔrēŋ-maʔ- ‘parrot’ from which also Sogdian ‘ym’wtsy /ēmūtsi/ ‘parrot’
  9. Toch. B ṣitsok ‘millet-alcohol’ : Chinese 黍 shǔ ‘glutinous millet (Panicum miliaceum)’ < MC śö́< OC slaʔ (~λ̵-) + Chinese 酒 jiǔ ‘wine’ < MC cjə́w < OC cuʔ
  10. Toch. AB cok ‘lamp’ : Chinese 燭 zhú ‘torch, candle; shine’ < MC ćöuk < OC tok.
  11. Toch. A truṅk, B troṅk* ‘hollow, cave,’ Toch. B troṅktse (adj.) ‘hollow’ < PToch. *tronk : Chinese 盅 zhōng ‘empty, hollow’ < MC ṭhüŋ < OC *thruŋ.
  12. Toch. A ri, Toch. B rīye ‘town’ < PToch. *riye : Chinese 里 lǐ ‘village’ < MC lɨ́< OC rəʔ < Sino-Tibetan *riəH.
  13. Toch. A lyäk, Toch. B lyak ‘thief’ < PToch. *lyäk : Chinese 掠 lüe ‘to plunder, rob; be rapacious’ < Late MC liak < MC lak < OC rhak < SinoTibetan *rɔ̆k.
  14. Toch. AB tseṃ ‘blue’ : Chinese 青 qīng ‘be blue, green’ < MC chieŋ < OC chēŋ.

We can distinguish two groups of Chinese loan words in Tocharian:

  1. Early loans (words for 'rice', 'winter sacrifice', 'cave', 'town'), showing pre-Han or Early Han phonetic peculiarities (Toch. kl- - OC L- (/-) vs. MC d-, Toch. r- = OC r- vs. MC /-, Toch. tr- = OC tr- vs. MC ?-). They must have entered Tocharian not later than the 2nd century B. C.
  2. Middle Chinese loan words (measures, alcoholic drinks, 'money', 'waterfowl', 'torch', 'thief, 'abacus', perhaps also 'silver' and 'authentication'). These words exhibit typical Middle Chinese phonetic features (affricates instead of dentals before original fronted (< *short) vowels, MC /- instead of OC *r-, loss of medial -r-, usually typical MC vocalism). Note, however, back -a- in cäk = MC jek (OC *diak) and cäne - MC jjen (OC *jtf«), which may indicate that those words were borrowed somewhat earlier than Middle Chinese (7th century A. D.), possibly in the 3rd or 4th century A. D.
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Pub: 24 Sep 2022 01:53 UTC
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