Tocharian Online

Selected Annotated Bibliography

Todd B. Krause


"The Tocharian Pun.yavantaja:taka : Text and Translation," by George S. Lane, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar. 1947), 33-53. One of the early great Tocharian publications, and still useful as a study text.

Chrestomathie tokharienne: textes et grammaire, by Georges-Jean Pinault; Peeters, Leuven, 2008. This work provides perhaps the best current single source for the learning of Tocharian by those who read French. As the title suggests, this book provides numerous text selections with accompanying translations and notes. The range of texts admirably provides a picture of the variety of genres that we find in Tocharian. The second half of the work is devoted to a rather full treatment of Tocharian grammar. Truly an exceptional work by one of the great masters of the field.

Institutiones Linguae Tocharicae, Pars II: Chrestomathia Tocharica, by Pavel Poucha; Státní Pedagogické Nakladatelství, Prague, 1956. A slender volume with text selections to accompany the Thesaurus. See below.

Tocharische Sprachreste, I. Band: Die Texte, A. Transcription, by E. Sieg and W. Siegling; Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin, 1921. One of the pioneering publications of Tocharian.

Tocharische Sprachreste: Sprache B. Heft 1: Die Uda:na:lanka:ra-Fragmente: Text, Übersetzung und Glossar, by E. Sieg and W. Siegling; Vandehoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1949. One of the early great collections of Tocharian texts.

Tocharisches Elementarbuch, Band II: Texte und Glossar, by Werner Thomas; Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg, 1964. The gold standard for textual editions accessible to the learner prior to the publication of Pinault's Chrestomathie. This includes a range of texts from both Tocharian A and B, as well as an extensive glossary that, in and of itself, provides a superbly handy tool. This is the second volume of the Tocharisches Elementarbuch; for the first volume, see below.

Fragments of the Tocharian A Maitreyasamiti-Na:t.aka of the Xinjiang Museum, China, by Ji Xianlin, Werner Winter and Georges-Jean Pinault; Mouton de Gruyter, New York, 1998. A modern edition for this fragmentary text, complete with photographic reproductions and glossary.


Tocharisches Elementarbuch, Band I: Grammatik, by Wolfgang Krause and Werner Thomas; Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg, 1960. For decades the only authoritative grammar to treat all aspects of both Tocharian A and B. Still an unparalleled resource for the Tocharian scholar. This first volume treats only grammar; the second volume (see above) provides texts and a glossary keyed to the grammar. In the words of Pinault: "The Elementarbuch is not elementary."

Westtocharische Grammatik, Band I: Das Verbum, by Wolfgang Krause; Carl Winter Universitätsverlag, Heidelberg, 1952. One of the early grammars to treat Tocharian B. Now viewed mainly as a precursor to the Elementarbuch.

Tocharische Grammatik, by Emil Sieg and Wilhelm Siegling with Wilhelm Schulze; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1931. The first published grammar of Tocharian, focusing on Tocharian A.


A Dictionary of Tocharian B, by Douglas Q. Adams; Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1999. Simply the gold standard of Tocharian dictionaries. Dedicated solely to Tocharian B, but inasmuch as it is an etymological dictionary it also treats related roots from Tocharian A when a cognate is available. Many of the entries are scholarly articles in themselves. The budding Tocharianist simply cannot do without this reference.

Institutiones Linguae Tocharicae, Pars I: Thesaurus Linguae Tocharicae Dialecti A, by Pavel Poucha; Státní Pedagogické Nakladatelství, Prague, 1955. Until recently the only full dictionary dedicated to Tocharian A. A marvelous work replete with citations and even etymologies, though many of these are outdated.

Lexique Étymologique des Dialectes Tokhariens, by A. J. van Windekens; Bureaux de Muséon, Louvain, 1941. One of the early great etymological dictionaries. Still useful, though some of the etymologies require updating.

Tocharian Linguistic History

Tocharian Historical Phonology and Morphology, by Douglas Q. Adams; American Oriental Society, New Haven, 1988. An authoritative treatment of the historical evolution of the Tocharian languages. Not meant to be a synchronic grammar of the language. The introduction provides a clear and concise overview of the relevant structures of Proto-Indo-European, so that the text serves as an introduction to Tocharian historical linguistics for those not specializing in either Tocharian or PIE. Some of the details of the historical phonology and morphology differ from the roughly contemporaneous Introduction au Tokharien, and progress has been made in the field since their publication.

Untersuchungen zu den sigmatischen Präsensstammbildungen des Tocharischen, by Olav Hackstein; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1995. A detailed discussion of the so-called sigmatic present formation in Tocharian, a grammatical feature that stands out from the rest of the Indo-European languages since the marker generally appears elsewhere only in past formations. This work provides insights not only into this formation, but into the entire Tocharian verbal system.

Introduction au Tokharien, by Georges-Jean Pinault; in LALIES: Actes des sessions de linguistique et de littérature, 11; Presses de L'École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 1992. A truly excellent overview of both Tocharian A and B, treating the historical evolution of the languages. Includes a reading selection from each of the two languages. Much of the grammatical material has been updated and included in the Chrestomathie above.

On the Chronology of Sound Changes in Tocharian, Volume 1: From Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Tocharian, by Don Ringe, Jr.; American Oriental Society, New Haven, 1996. An effort to piece together what must have been the sequence of sound changes that led to the Tocharian languages.

Le Tokharien confronté avec les autres langues indo-européennes, Volume II: La morphologie verbale, by A. J. van Windekens; Centre International de Dialectologie Générale, Louvain, 1982. An important study of the historical linguistics of Tocharian. Part of the series including the Lexique Étymologique above.

"Tocharian," by Werner Winter, in The Indo-European Languages, ed. Ramat & Ramat. A very brief, but instructive overview of Tocharian. A valuable resource as one studies other more lengthy treatments of Tocharian, to make sure one does see the forest for the trees.

Indo-European Linguistic History

Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, by James Clackson; Cambridge University Press, New York, 2007. A truly brilliant introduction to the field of Indo-European linguistics. Among similar works, it is brief, but with a clarity that far surpasses most others. The most noteworthy feature is the author's ability to provide an evenly-balanced overview of the theoretical issues at play, without falling prey to entrenchment in one particular scholarly camp or other. In this regard the discussion of syntax, often absent or nearly so in other works for a similar audience, stands out as a must-read.

Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction, by Benjamin W. Fortson IV; Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2004. An outstanding introduction to Indo-European linguistics. The first half is dedicated to an overview of the grammar of PIE. The second half is a truly remarkable overview of the specifics of each branch of the Indo-European family, replete with short textual examples and notes. The only small blemish on an otherwise stellar work is the rather brief treatment of syntax.

"A Preface to Diachronic Syntactic Investigation," by Winfred P. Lehmann, in Steever et al. (1976), 169-178. One of the fundamental papers outlining approaches to diachronic syntax in terms of modern syntactic theory and typology.

Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics, by Winfred P. Lehmann; Routledge, New York, 1993. A necessary addition to the bookshelf of any would-be Indo-Europeanist. The first half of the book provides a detailed discussion of the evolution of the discipline itself, which one is hard-pressed to find elsewhere. For those who do not have access to Brugmann's Grundriss, this provides an excellent overview of its placement within the discipline. The second half delves into a discussion of the specifics of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European, as well as a chapter on Pre-Indo-European.

The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, by J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams; Oxford University Press, New York, 2006. A fun, yet scholarly read. This work requires no specialized knowledge of Indo-European linguistics, nor even historical linguistics in general. The early material explains the necessary linguistic concepts and relations among the Indo-European languages, making the book accessible to linguists, archaeologists, and interested readers alike. The remainder of the book is a discussion of Indo-European cognates groups thematically: e.g. family and kinship terms, anatomy, food and drink, space and time, etc. A worthy successor to Buck's A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages.

The Indo-European Languages, edited by Anna Giacalone Ramat and Paolo Ramat; Routledge, New York, 1998. A collection of articles by renowned scholars covering the major branches of Indo-European.

New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, by Andrew L. Sihler; Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. A truly elegant revision of Buck's original work. Authoritative and innovative in several aspects, and a necessary addition to the library not only of scholars of Greek and Latin, but of Indo-Europeanists in general. The frustrating lack of a thematic index is only partially compensated for by a rather explicit table of contents.

Papers from the Parasession on Diachronic Syntax, April 22, 1976, edited by Sanford B. Steever, Carol A. Walker and Salikoko S. Mufwene; Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago, 1976. A collection of papers from a conference that many of us dearly wish we could have attended.

"Towards Proto-Indo-European Syntax: Problems and Pseudo-Problems," by Calvert Watkins, in Steever et al. (1976), 305-326. The ultimate well-spring for much of the method of Indo-European poetic reconstruction. The beginning of the paper dedicates itself to a rather stern, bordering on dismissive, rebuke of the methods of syntactic reconstruction outlined in papers by Lehmann and others in the same volume. The remainder of the paper cannot be so dismissed, however, as we see one of the initial glimpses of a method of syntactic reconstruction that has truly turned the discipline on its head.

History & Culture

The Heritage of Central Asia: From Antiquity to the Turkish Expansion, by Richard N. Frye; Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, 1996. A truly fascinating account of Central Asia by a scholar who spent most of his life living and breathing Central Asian culture firsthand.

The Prehistory of the Silk Road, by E. E. Kuzmina; University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2008. An authoritative and up-to-date account of the archaeology of Central Asia and the prehistoric cultures feeding into the region. Some of the work is dedicated to the question of Tocharian migration.

The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West, by J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair; Thames & Hudson, London, 2000. Simply put, this book is fantastic. The scholarship is first rate. The authors take great pains to place the Tarim mummies in their historical context; to achieve this, the book treats historical accounts of Central Asia from both the European and Far Eastern perspectives. Likewise the authors naturally discuss wider archaeological issues concerning various cultures feeding into the region and particularly the problems that surround the location of the so-called Proto-Indo European Homeland. Finally, they treat the linguistic landscape, providing an overview of the various tongues and scripts found in the Tarim Basin and surrounding regions. Few works treat the topic with such authority from such a diversity of angles. Even better, they add humor, with section titles such as "A Brief History of Twine" and "Time to Die?"

The History of the Central Asian Republics, by Peter L. Roudik; Greenwood Press, Westwood, Connecticut, 2007. A work more focused on the modern history of Central Asia, but with a brief and informative introduction to the ancient history.


Buddhism: A Short History, by Edward Conze; Oneworld, Oxford, 1993. A straightforward, scholarly, readable account of the history of Buddhism. Admirable in the way it clearly states what is known and what is not about the early history of the religion, what is conjecture, and what the fundamental issues were in the progression of the philosophy surrounding Buddhism.

Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions, edited by Wendy Doniger et al.; Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., London, 2006. A vast resource for religions of all varieties, with numerous key articles written by renowned scholars.

The Buddhacarita, or, Acts of the Buddha, by E. H. Johnson; Motilal Banarsidass, 1984. For many years the standard scholarly edition in Sanskrit of As'vaghos.a's account of the life of the Buddha.

Encyclopedia of Buddhism, by Edward A. Irons; Facts on File, New York, 2008. A useful collection of information specifically concerning the Buddhist religion.

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