Tocharian Online

Lesson 6

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

Buddhism: a Brief Overview

Scholars generally agree that the Buddha existed as a historical personage in India some four to five centuries before the birth of Christ. Beyond this, however, the precision with which scholars can fix details of his life varies widely. In large part this results from centuries of orally passing down his teachings and stories related to his life; unlike the Vedas, these tales did not adhere to any strict metrical form, and this allowed for greater variation in retelling. Further complicating matters is the nature of the teachings of the Buddha himself and of his disciples, which tend to de-emphasize the biographical facts of his life. The nail in the coffin, so to speak, is the development of the understanding of what the Buddha's particular nature really consists of: in later schools of Buddhist thought we find a strong emphasis upon the perpetual aspects of the Buddha-nature and an assertion that this Buddha-principle is enduring, existing before and after the 'historical Buddha'. The Buddhist literature thus began a process of enumerating other Buddhas who had preceded and followed the 'historical Buddha', and the sources consequently downplayed the importance of the chance manifestation referred to by the 'historical Buddha'. This precipitated a blurring of the distinctions between the several Buddhas and the facts peculiar to the life of the 'historical Buddha' himself.

Family History

The historical Buddha was born Siddʰārtʰa ('he whose purpose is accomplished,' i.e. 'successful') Gautama, a member of the Gotama clan. The dates of his birth range anywhere from 623 to 484 BCE, though most current scholarly works agree on dates in the range 566--486 BCE. Biographical material does agree that, regardless of the date of his birth, the Buddha lived for 80 years. He was born in Lumbini, near Kapilavastu, a city in the Śākya republic of the Kosala kingdom, located in the north of India near the Himalayas. The clan traces its origin to a ṛṣi by the name Gotama and therefore originally pertained to the brahman (priestly) caste. But at some point in its history prior to the Buddha's birth, the clan seems to have shifted to the kṣatriya (warrior) caste. The Buddha's father was Suddʰodana, king of the Śākya tribe, and his mother Māyā. Māyā died at childbirth; Suddʰodana subsequently married her sister Mahāprajāpati, who in turn raised the Buddha. We find no mention of brothers or sisters, but of numerous more distant relatives. In particular we know of two cousins, Ānanda and Devadatta. The Buddha eventually married Yaśodʰarā, who bore him a son, Rāhula. The Buddha evidently felt that such family attachment inhibited his spiritual pursuits, and at age 29 he left his family behind shortly after the birth of his son.

Early Life

Legendary accounts state that the Buddha emerged at birth from the right side of his mother, Māyā. According to one important biography composed in the second century CE, the Buddʰacarita (Acts of the Buddha) of Aśvagʰoṣa, he immediately uttered the words buddʰo 'smi "I am awakened." This highlights the fact that "Buddha" is less a name than a title, "The Awakened (One)" or "The Enlightened (One)".

The stories relate that a wandering ascetic prophesied to Suddʰodana that his son would grow to become either a great king or great religious leader. In the drive to secure an heir for his throne, Suddʰodana took every precaution to steer his son toward political greatness. In particular he gave the order that his son should not leave the palace grounds, and that the royal attendants should look after his every desire. In a reflection of the situation encountered in innumerable homes both regal and humble, this appears only to have fueled young Siddʰārtʰa's desire to see what lay beyond the palace gates. He finally prevailed upon his charioteer, who agreed to take him through the surrounding city in secret. Upon leaving the royal compound Siddʰārtʰa encountered the sights of a world very different from the sheltered one in which he had been living. The images of the poor, the sick, the dead left such a profound impact on the young prince that he resolved to leave the palace on a personal journey to seek the truth. He set out on this journey on the same night his wife Mahāprajāpati bore him a son.

Religious Development

The young Siddʰārtʰa met up with a group of five ascetics and decided to follow them in their quest for spiritual understanding. He participated in their practices of extreme physical deprivation, including fasting, designed to assist in shedding corporeal concerns. After a time Siddʰārtʰa became disillusioned with such austere practices, deeming that they would not lead to true insight which he sought. He thus set off on his own to find a different path to wisdom.

Siddʰārtʰa finally settled down to meditate beneath a pipal tree (ficus religiōsa). He remained there for 40 nights, undeterred by the temptations of Māra (the "Lord of the Senses"). During these meditations Siddʰārtʰa came to understand the Four Noble Truths, and he attained enlightenment on the night of the first full moon in May (Vesakʰa). He emerged from these meditations as the true Buddha, the Enlightened, and the traditional name bodʰi ('enlightenment') tree now applied to the pipal serves to commemorate this momentous occasion.

The Buddha subsequently sought five companions and gathered them at Sarnatʰ. There he delivered to them his first sermon, in which he rejected the two extremes of his life experience --- extreme self-indulgence and extreme self-deprivation; he stressed the search for a middle path between these two extremes, one which would ultimately lead to true wisdom and nirvāṇa. This path has come down to us as the Eightfold Way and consists of right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right living, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

The Buddha's Legacy

With these first five disciples the Buddha founded the saṅgʰa ('congratation' or '(monastic) order'). He thereby established a vehicle through which his teachings might disseminate further. This completed the Buddha's earthly mission, and at Kusinara he finally escaped the cycle of rebirth and entered parinirvāṇa. This occurred on the day of the full moon in May (Vesakʰa). His body was cremated and the remains spread as relics throughout the various Buddhist communities.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following Tocharian B text is B107, now THT 107 in the new Berlin numbering system. This was the first Tocharian B text of the Berlin collection published by Sieg and Siegling. We follow the edition published by Pinault (2008).

The selection below provides the beginning of a Tocharian translation of the story traditionally referred to as the "Last Supper" of the Buddha before his enlightenment. In particular, the story relates the scene that begins after Siddʰārtʰa's departure from the company of the five ascetics whose practices of self-deprivation he had previously been observing. He decides to restore his strength with a suitable meal, and in preparation he travels to the river Nairañjanā to bathe. He dons there new clothes and receives from two women the food he seeks. They provide him the food in a bowl, and in the presence of the nourishment he allows himself to contemplate the nature of the world. Here is where our passage picks up.

Expand All
  • u -- demonstrative pronoun; feminine oblique singular of <su, sā<sub>u</sub>, tu> the; he, she, it -- the
  • oṅkorñ(ai) -- noun; feminine oblique singular of <oṅkarño, oṅkorño> porridge, rice gruel -- porridge
  • srañciyeṃ -- verb imperfect; 3 plural active of <sränk-> boil -- They boiled

Expand All
  • tappre -- adverb; <tapre> high; fat -- high
  • kauś -- adverb; <kauc> high, up, above -- up
  • yey -- verb imperfect; 3 singular active of <i-> go, travel -- it went
  • -- particle; <mā> (simple negation and prohibition) not, no; (quasi-prefix) un- -- not
  • no -- enclitic conjunction; <no> (adversative) however, but; (al)though; (connective, in if-clauses) then -- But
  • nta -- particle; <nta> (intensifying particle, usu. in negative clauses) -- ...
  • totka -- adjective; indeclinable <totka> few, little, short, small -- a little
  • rano -- conjunction; <rano> (joins clauses and independent sentences, usu. in second position) also, in addition; even though; (neither...) nor; however -- not even # mā... rano 'neither... nor'
  • parna -- adverb; <parna> (adv., postposition) outside; (w. abl.) beyond, out from; (w. perl.) aside from; (prepos., postpos.) except, absent -- over-
  • präntsitär -- verb imperfect; 3 singular mediopassive of <pränts-> spatter -- it did... flow

Expand All
  • cākkär -- noun; nominative singular <cākkär> wheel; cakra, wheel as mystical symbol -- The cakra
  • svastik -- noun; nominative singular <svastik> swastika (a symbol denoting good luck) -- swastika
  • nandikāwart -- noun; nominative singular <nandikāwart> nandikavarta (designation of a mystic diagram) -- (and) nandikavarta
  • ṣotr-una -- noun; neuter nominative plural of <ṣotri> sign, mark, (manifestation of) action -- signs
  • eneṅka -- adverb; <eneṅka> within, herein, among -- within
  • celeñiyentär -- verb imperfect; 3 plural mediopassive of <celeññ-> appear -- appeared

Expand All
  • kentsa -- noun; feminine perlative singular <keṃ> earth, ground -- Over land
  • ipprer-ne -- noun; masculine locative singular <iprer> sky, air -- (and) in the sky
  • maṅkāläṣṣana -- adjective 1; feminine nominative plural <maṅkāläṣṣe> pertaining to good luck, bliss, health -- good-luck
  • ṣotr-una -- noun; neuter nominative plural of <ṣotri> sign, mark, (manifestation of) action -- the... signs
  • lkoyentär -- verb optative; 3 plural mediopassive <läk-> see; look at; catch sight of; visit -- could be seen

Lesson Text

1 - tāu oṅkorñ(ai) srañciyeṃ; 2 - tappre kauś yey. mā no nta totka rano parna präntsitär. 3 - cākkär svastik nandikāwart ṣotr-una eneṅka celeñiyentär. 4 - kentsa ipprer-ne maṅkāläṣṣana ṣotr-una lkoyentär.


1 They boiled the porridge. 2 it went up high. But it did not overflow, not even a little. 3 The cakra, swastika and nandikavarta signs appeared within. 4 Over land and in the sky the good-luck signs could be seen.


26 Personal Pronouns

Tocharian maintains specific pronouns for the first and second persons. For the third person the situation parallels that of Proto-Indo-European: no specific pronoun denotes uniquely the third person, but rather the Tocharian languages employ demonstrative adjectives as substantives. In addition to these independent pronominal forms, the Tocharian languages also employ suffixed forms which borrow their accent from the word to which they are attached.

26.1 Independent Forms

Tocharian shows a pronoun for the first person ('I', 'we'), and a separate pronoun for the second person ('thou', 'you'). What comes as a surprise from the Indo-European point of view is that, in Tocharian A, the first person pronoun distinguishes for gender in the singular. That is, the forms expressing English 'I' or 'me' or '(of) me' differ depending on whether 'I' am male or female. We do not find this elsewhere in the ancient Indo-European languages. Tocharian B does not share this distinction, nor does the second person pronoun in either language. The following chart displays the extant forms of the first and second pronouns in each of Tocharian A and B.

    A 1 Masc.       A 1 Fem.   B 1           A 2   B 2
N Sg.   näṣ       ñuk   ñäś (ñiś)           tu   t(u)we
G   ñi       nāñi   ñi           tñi   tañ
Obl.   näṣ       ñuk   ñäś (ñiś)           cu   ci
N Paral               wene               yene
Obl.               wene               yene
N Pl.       was       wes           yas   yes
G       wasäṃ       wesi, wesäṃ, wesäñ           yasäṃ   yesi, yesäṃ, yesäñ
Obl.       was       wes           yas   yes

The historical development of the first person singular remains opaque. One might suppose two Proto-Tocharian forms, *ñäś and *ñäku, the latter a marked version of the former (Pinault 2008). *ñäś would give the masculine form by dissimilation (cf. Pinault 2008, Adams 1988); the marked form evidently came in restricted context to mark the feminine. Beyond that, little is clear about the development of the first person singular.

The development of the second person singular provides fewer difficulties. The following chart illustrates the evolution from Proto-Indo-European.

    PIE   PToch   A   B
N Sg.   *tuHom   *tuwæ   tu   t(u)we
G       *täñ-i   tñi   tañ
Obl.   *twe   *tywyä   cu   ci

Though the exact origin of the genitive form remains unclear, the nominative and oblique forms derive straightforwardly from their PIE counterparts.

The development of the plural forms likewise contains some twists and turns. Evidently we find alteration of the accusative form to conform with the nominative: PIE *nos should give PToch *næ(s), but this became *wæ(s) to parallel the *w- of the nominative form; similarly PIE *wos > PToch *wæ(s) was reformed as *yæ(s). The accusative forms PToch *wæ(s) and *yæ(s) provided a base which Tocharian extended throughout the remainder of the paradigm. Interestingly, we find that Tocharian retains the final *-s of these forms, suggesting the influence of a suffixed particle. We find similar extension by suffixed particles in the genitive, where evidently Tocharian B has imported the same suffix *-ñ(ä) found in the second person genitive singular. The PIE source of the suffix in Tocharian A was-äṃ and yas-äṃ may lie in the ending *-min found, e.g., in Greek hēmĩn, humĩn and Skt. tasmin; in Tocharian, assimilation would yield *-nin > *-nä(n) > A -äṃ. The forms B wes-i, yes-i likely preserve a later formation, recharacterizing these forms with the genitive ending -i found commonly among the pronominal declensions.

Tocharian also preserves a reflexive pronoun A ṣñi B ṣañ, both forms evidently deriving from PToch *ṣäñ. The Tocharian A form shows the ending -i characteristic of the genitive. The reflexive pronoun recapitulates the topic (usually the subject) of the sentence, much as English himself, herself, itself, themselves.

26.2 Suffixed Forms

In addition to the independent forms discussed above, Tocharian possesses enclitic forms of the pronoun for the first, second, and third persons. The following table lists the forms.

    A   B
1 Sg.   -ñi  
2   -ci   -c
3   -ṃ   -ne
1 Pl.   -m   -me
2   -m   -me
3   -m   -me

To these forms Tocharian may append the secondary case endings to express the specific grammatical relation intended. For example, third person singular allative A -n-ac B -ne-ś, second person singular ablative B -c-meṃ, etc.

We see that the same form A -m B -me serves for all persons in the plural. The Tocharian A forms display the genitive ending -i familiar from the personal and demonstrative pronouns. Scholars still dispute the origins of the individual forms. Most clear is the development of the second person singular form from the original PIE enclitic form *te > PToch *cä (+i) > A -ci B -c. The first person singular form likely has its origins in PIE *me, but with an analogical replacement of *m- with *ñ- based on the forms of the independent pronouns. The third person singular form perhaps derives from an early PIE deictic pronoun stem *no- > *næ. The origin of the plural pronominal form still remains obscure.

These suffixes form part of the phonological word to which they are suffixed. We see this in the shifts in vocalism that accompany the shifts in accent which these forms engender. For example, consider the verb B läk- 'see'. This has third person singular preterite form lyāka < PToch *lyā́kā 'she saw'. If however we express the idea 'she saw him' with the same verb and a pronominal suffix, we find PToch *lyākā́-ne > B lyakā-ne. The extra syllable provided by the pronominal suffix brings about a shift in the Tocharian B accent, and the results in an alternation between a and ā.

27 Primary Case Endings: Plural

We finally turn to the plural endings of the primary cases, thereby completing our detailed discussion of the nominal endings. Recall that in Lesson 2, Section 7.1.1 we distinguished two broad classes into which we may divide Tocharian nouns:

Type (a)   nominative plural           different from           oblique plural;
Type (b)   nominative plural           same as           oblique plural.

Generally speaking, we could divide nouns in any case-marking language this way: we are simply distinguishing two logical possibilities. What makes this distinction more interesting is the fact that each type listed above contains a large number of representatives, so that this provides a useful distinction within Tocharian in particular.

The question then arises: is there any way to know what nouns fall into Type (a) and what nouns into Type (b)? The remarkable fact is that the answer is rather simple if we think in terms of PIE. In PIE, the distinction of Types (a) and (b) coincides with the distinction between non-neuter and neuter, as shown in the following chart.

    Athem. Pl.   Them. Pl.
Nom.   *-es   *-ōs < *-o-es
Acc.   *-ns   *-o-ns
Nom.   *-H₂   *-ā < *-e-H₂
Acc.   *-H₂   *-ā < *-e-H₂

We see this, for example, in Greek, Latin and Sanskrit: nouns whose nominative and accusative are identical are generally neuter, and those for which these forms are different are generally masculine or feminine. In terms of Tocharian, the alternating gender retains the remnants of the original PIE neuter. We therefore expect Type (b) to consist largely of nouns with alternating gender. Moreover, we specifically expect their plural endings to reflect those of the original PIE neuter plural.

The flip side of course is that we should expect Type (a) to reflect nouns which were originally non-neuter in PIE terms. That is, Type (a) nouns should largely consist of masculine or feminine nouns in Tocharian, and their plural endings should reflect the original PIE non-neuter (animate) endings.

In large part this correlation between alternating gender and Type (b) nouns holds true. We do however find deviations from this pattern: on the one hand, the PIE feminine may at least in part have derived from collective neuters, so that these two genders have a very intricate relationship within PIE itself; on the other hand, within the Tocharian family itself analogical extension of inherited patterns need not confine itself to gender categories. Thus both on historical grounds in terms of PIE and on the grounds of natural linguistic evolution, we do not expect a strict demarcation confining a particular gender to a particular declensional Type. In particular in addition to nouns with alternating gender we would expect to find feminine nouns that behave according to Type (b).

Nouns of Type (b) generally pertain to Classes I--III, while nouns of Type (a) generally pertain to Classes IV--VII.

27.1 Type (b): Nominative Same as Oblique

Ultimately, as discussed above, plural endings where the nominative and oblique are the same derive historically from the PIE neuter plural ending: PIE *-H₂ > PToch *-ā. The variety of Type (b) endings we actually encounter in the documented Tocharian languages can be traced back in large part to the corresponding variety of suffixes we find in neuter, or inanimate, noun formation in PIE. In particular, we find reflexes of neuter plurals built to root nouns, as well as *u-, *n-, and *nt-stems. The following chart lists the historical evolution into Tocharian of the PIE neuter nominative/accusative ending in the instance of each suffix.

PIE Type   PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B   Noun Class
-Stem   *-H₂   *-ā     -a   I.1
*u-Stem   *-u-H₂   *-wā   -u   -wa   I.2
*n-Stem   *-n-H₂   *-nā   -äṃ   -na   II.1
    *-m(e)n-H₂   *-m(ä)nā       -m(a)na   II.1
    *-m(e)n-H₂   *-mnā   -mnā   -nma   II.2
*nt-Stem   *-nt-H₂   *-ntā   -nt   -nta   III

We see that the PIE stem type generally dictates the noun declension class as outlined in standard grammars of Tocharian. In large part, the evolution appears completely regular. Perhaps the most conspicuous seeming irregularity is that the root noun (-stem) reflex in Tocharian A is . We should expect in accordance with the general loss of final vowels in Tocharian A. Two possible explanations come to mind. First, had Tocharian A reduced the ending to , for a large number of nouns this would have removed the sole marker of the plural number. Second, and likely related, is the fact that this ending would have remained even on phonetic grounds in some very common formations. In particular, the plural oblique provides the base for adjectives formed by means of the suffix A -ṣi B -ṣṣe (Lesson 3, Section 13.2). Since the neuter ending would no longer have been final, it would have remained in these formations, perhaps providing further impetus to retain the *-ā in the regular nominal paradigm. Consider the following example showing the evolution of the noun A pukäl B pikul 'year'.

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Sg.   *pékʷ-ḷ-Ø   *p'äkwäl   pukäl   pikul
Pl.   *pekʷ-l-H₂   *p'äkwälā   puklā   pikwala
Adjective   *pekʷ-l-H₂ + -syo-   *p'äkwälā-syæ   puklā-ṣi   pikwala-ṣṣe

In the uncompounded form, the final should be lost in Tocharian A; the fact that it remains in the compounded form provides the foundation for analogical restoration in the nominal paradigm.

In the *u-stem nouns we find the expected loss of the final *-H₂ > *-ā in the plural. Take for example the noun A waṣt B ost 'house' (cf. Gk. (w)ástu, Ved. vā́stu).

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Sg.   *wā́stu-Ø   *wåstä   waṣt   ost
Pl.   *wā́stu-H₂   *wåstuwā   waṣtu   ost(u)wa
Adjective   *wā́stu-H₂ + -syo-   *wåstuwā-syæ   waṣt(w)ā-ṣi   ost(w)a-ṣṣe

We see in the above example that, due to the loss of the final vowel in the plural, the original PIE stem itself becomes the plural marker in Tocharian A. As before, the *-ā is retained in composition. But since the stem itself is lost in the singular, the stem alone is sufficient to mark the plural, and so the *-ā is not restored by analogy. Moreover, Tocharian A begins to extend the use of this new plural marker beyond its historical distribution to nouns of differing gender and etymological formation. For example, Tocharian A employs this ending with nouns with stem-final -E, including a number of non-neuter nouns: A pe (masculine) 'foot', plural peyu; A kälyme (feminine) 'direction', plural kälymeyu.

The remaining stems listed above undergo a similar process. What we find in Tocharian as the marker of the plural in fact derives from the original stem suffix: the -ending in the singular generally precipitates loss of the suffix itself in Tocharian A; but the addition (and subsequent loss) of the *-H₂ in the plural actually preserves the stem. The latter, together with the original ending if it survives, is reanalyzed synchronically as the marker of the plural, and this marker spreads beyond its historical distribution.

The evolution among the *n-stems therefore brings little surprise; the overall process largely parallels that described above. We do notice some peculiarities however. One is that which Tocharian nouns exhibit PIE *n- or *m(e)n-stem reflexes generally differs between Tocharian A and B. Consider the examples of A ysār B yasar (alternating) 'blood', A ñom B ñem (alternating) 'name' listed below.

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B   Comparanda
Sg.   *H₁esH₂ōr-Ø   *yäsār   ysār   yasar   Lat. as(s)er
Pl.   *H₁esH₂ōr-H₂   *yäsārā   ysāräṃ   ysāra   Gk. éar
Sg.   *H₁nēmṇ-Ø   *ñæmä(n)   ñom   ñem   Lat. nōmen, pl. nōmina
Pl.   *H₁nēmṇ-H₂   *ñæmnā   ñomäntu   ñemna    

In the example of A ysār B yasar we find that Tocharian A shows a reflex of the *n-suffix, though grafted onto the original collective formation in *-ōr. With A ñom B ñem we see that Tocharian B preserves the original *m(e)n-suffix and ending in the plural, while Tocharian A reforms the plural based on a suffix imported from elsewhere.

We also find in some instances metathesis of the *m and *n of the suffix: PToch *-mn- > *-nm-. This often occurred when the suffix followed a root-final consonant: *-C-mn-H₂ > *-C-ä-mnā > *-C-ä-nmā. This occurs in particular with *nākänmā > B nakanma, plural of B naki, verbal derivative of the root AB nāk- 'blame'.

The simple *n-stem reflex, PIE *-n-H₂ > PToch *-nā, bolstered by a reanalysis of the *m(e)n-suffix as PIE *-mn-H₂ > PToch *-m-nā, occasioned the extension of the new Tocharian suffix *-nā to plurals of other categories. In particular the new ending spread among nouns to feminine plurals where normal phonetic evolution caused the nominative and accusative forms to converge. Consider the example of A śäṃ B śana 'wife'.

    PIE   Late PIE   PToch   Late PToch   Toch A   Toch B   Comparanda
N   *gʷen-eH₂   *gʷenā   *śänå   *śänå   śäṃ   śana   Got. qino
Obl.   *gʷen-eH₂-m   *gʷenām   *śänå   *śänå   śäṃ   śano   Gk. gunḗ
N   *gʷen-eH₂-es   *gʷenās   *śänå   *śänå+nā   śnu   śnona    
Obl.   *gʷen-eH₂-ns   *gʷenās   *śänå   *śänå+nā   śnās   śnona    

We see that, in order to distinguish the plural from the singular, Tocharian B has imported the new plural suffix *-nā appropriate to nouns whose plural nominative and accusative are identical. Tocharian A faced the same problem, but found a different resolution. Along the same lines, both Tocharian A and Tocharian B have imported the neuter ending PToch *-nā > A -äṃ B -na into the plural nominative and oblique of feminine thematic adjectives: *-ās > PToch *-å > *-å+nā > A -aṃ B -ona.

The *nt-stem reflexes derive largely from PIE formations in *-e/ont- followed by the neuter plural suffix: *-e/ont-H₂. This suffix occurs not only among the substantives, but in the feminine plural of certain common adjectives: for example A pont B ponta, feminine plural of A puk B po 'all, every'; and A krant B krenta, feminine plural of A kāsu B kartse 'good'. As with other endings discussed above, the sequence *-äntā composed of PIE suffix and ending was reanalyzed as a unit representing the plural ending, and this was extended in Proto-Tocharian beyond its original distribution. In particular it forms a plural to nouns ending in consonants, e.g. *wär-äntā > B wranta, as well as to nouns ending in vowels, providing numerous combinations B -Vnta, where V can be any one of A a, u or B ā, e, i, o, u. In Tocharian A in particular, the stem *-nt- seems to have been augmented by the plural formation -wā discussed in connection with the *u-stems. This has left a variant plural formation *-nt-wā > A -ntu in Tocharian A. The final semivowel often maintains a certain now-you-see-it-now-you-don't quality: Tocharian A plurals in A often show -äntw- in the secondary case formations. Consider the example of A el 'gift', with plural elant, as in the following chart.

A -änt(w)-   el 'gift' (Pl.)
Nom.   elant
Gen.   eläntwis
Obl.   elant
Instr.   elantyo
Perl.   eläntwā
Commit.   eläntwaśśäl
All.   eläntwac
Abl.   eläntwäṣ
Loc.   eläntwaṃ
27.2 Type (a): Nominative Different from Oblique

27.2.1 Various Nominative Endings

In those nouns for which the nominative and oblique plural differ in form, the endings of the nominative plural show a wide variety of sources and outcomes. With the exclusion of the nominative plural endings A -e B -i (without palatalization of preceding consonants), which derive from an originally pronominal ending *-y in PIE, the remaining Tocharian endings trace their origin to the common animate nominative plural ending *-es. The resulting variety of Tocharian endings therefore has its source not in the PIE endings, but rather in the PIE suffixes to which they were attached, and the ensuing effects this had on the phonetic development within Tocharian. We list these combinations in the following chart, noting both the noun and adjective classes that characteristically employ the respective Tocharian endings.

PIE Type   PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B   Noun Class   Adj Class
Pronoun   *-oy   *-æy   -e   -i   V.1   I
*i-Stem   *-ey-es   *-yäyä   -yi   -yi   V.2--3    
*u-Stem   *-ew-es   *-yäwyä       -yi   V.2--3    
*n-Stem   *-n-es   *-ñä            
    *-on-es   *-æñä   -añ   -eñ   V.1 (A), VI.4 (B)   II.4
    *-en-es   *-yäñä   -y   -y   VI.1   II.1
    *-ōn-es   *-āñä   -āñ   -āñ   VI.3   II.3
    *-ōn-es   *-āñä       -ai+ñ   VI.2   II.2
*nt-Stem   *-nt-es   *-ñcä   -ñś   -ñc   VII   III
*s-Stem   *-s-es   *-ṣä   -ṣ   -ṣ       IV

We see that, in large part, the suffixes recapitulate those we have seen with nouns of Type (b). We do notice some differences however. In particular, the *i- and *u-stems show the full grade of the thematic vowel *-e-. This has the expected effect of palatalizing the preceding consonant; thus Tocharian nouns employing the reflexes of these endings typically show palatalization of the stem-final consonant. Moreover, we find a wide array of PIE *n-stem formations that give rise to Type (a) endings. These employ *o-grade as well as *e-grade, the latter of course palatalizing root-final consonants; we find the long -grade *n-stem formations, which happens to provide a variety of outcomes in Tocharian B: B -āñ vs. B -ai+ñ. We also note that the PIE ending *-es has the predictable effect of palatalizing the suffix-final consonant; in regard to the *nt-stems, this palatalization affects the entire consonant cluster. The *s-stem formation generally arises not only in stems in *-e/os-, but also in the preterite participles based on the stem *-wos-.

We do find a slight departure from the above pattern with adjectives from class II.5, where the expected nominative singular *-mōn-es > PToch *-māñ has been reformed as B -moñ in accord with the o-vocalism of the nominative singular (Lesson 4, Section 18).

27.2.2 Oblique Ending

Happily the oblique plural ending has a unique source in the Proto-Indo-European accusative plural: PIE *-ns > PToch *-ns > A -s B -ṃ. The variation we find in the oblique plural endings within the two Tocharian languages confines itself to the vowel preceding these endings. For original consonant stems, an epenthetic *-ä- arises to break up consonant clusters. For PIE *i- and *u-stems, the same reduced vowel arises due to the regular change *i, u > . For original thematic stems, the PIE thematic vowel *-o- gives the expected PToch *-æ-. We summarize the situation in the following chart.

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Athematic   *-C-ns   *-Cäns   -äs   -äṃ
    *-i-ns   *-yäns   -yäs   -yäṃ
    *-u-ns   *-äns   -äs   -äṃ
Thematic   *-o-ns   *-æns   -as   -eṃ

Consider the following example of A yuk B yakwe 'horse'.

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Nom.   *H₁eḱwo-n-es   *yäkwæñä   yukañ    
    *H₁eḱwo-y   *yäkwæy       yakwi
Acc.   *H₁eḱwo-ns   *yäkwæns   yukas   yakweṃ

In many situations, where the nominative plural shows -Vñ for some vowel V, Tocharian A has adopted the same vowel in the oblique: -Vs.

27.3 Genitive Plural

We find in Tocharian a total of three different genitive plural endings. Tocharian A employs two distinct endings: A -śśi for Type (a) and (b) substantives and adjectives, A -is for Type (b) substantives. Tocharian B is mercifully straightforward, employing only the suffix B -ṃts, which it sometimes further simplifies to B -ts.

The origins of these endings remain somewhat obscure. The ending A -śśi likely derives from the oblique plural ending -s, augmented by the possessive suffix -śi found among the adjectives, followed by the attendant palatalization. This fits with the fact that this ending most commonly occurs with those substantives whose nominative and oblique plural differ (Type (a)), hence with those whose oblique plural ending is A -s. The ending also occurs with those substantives and adjectives whose nominative and oblique plural are identical (Type (b)); when this happens, Tocharian A appends the ending to the nominative/oblique plural form. Consider the following examples.

Toch A   Nom. Sg.   Nom Pl.   Obl. Pl.   Gen. Pl.
Type (a)                
'horse'   yuk   yukañ   yukas   yukaśśi
'living being'   wrasom   wrasam'   wrasas   wrasaśśi
'king'   wäl   lā(ṃ)ś   lāñcäs   lāñcäśśi
Type (b)                
'thing'   wram   *wramnā > wramäṃ   wramäṃ   wramnāśśi
'good deed'   kāswone   *kāswonentwā > kāswonentu   kāswonentu   kāswonentwāśśi

Note that the stem to which -śśi is appended often recapitulates the Proto-Tocharian form, since addition of the genitive plural ending prevents loss of the final vowel.

The ending A -is likely derives from the genitive singular ending (see Section 17.4.2 of Lesson 4): PIE *-ns-os > PToch -änsæ > A -is. Tocharian A likewise appends this to the nominative/oblique plural of Type (b) nouns, in particular those which form plural in -äntu: A cmol 'birth', nom./obl. plural cmolu, gen. plural cmolwis; A pāk 'portion', nom./obl. plural pākäntu, gen. plural pākäntwis.

The ending B -(ṃ)ts likely derives from the *n-stem genitive singular recharacterized by appending the ending of the genitive plural: PIE *-ns-ōm > *-nsu > *-nsä > B -ṃts. Such evolution might also explain the occurrence of a variant long form B -ṃtso found in poetic meter; this form preserves the original final syllable whose presence is confirmed by the placement of the accent: e.g. B yäkwéṃts < *yäkwéntsä. Among the Type (b) nouns (classes I--III), Tocharian B appends this ending to the -a of the nominative/oblique ending: B ñem 'name', nom./obl. plural ñemna, gen. plural ñemnaṃts; B camel 'birth', nom./obl. plural cmela, gen. plural cmelaṃts.

28 Adjective Class IV: Athematic *s-Stems, Preterite Participle

Class IV comprises athematic adjectives deriving from original PIE *s-stems: the Tocharian preterite participle. In particular, the source for these adjectival paradigms lies with the PIE perfect participle in *-wos-, with feminine *-us-iH₂-; cf. Gr. -(w)ṓs, -uĩa, respectively. Although the Class IV adjectives fall into four main subgroups in Tocharian B (mercifully, only two in Tocharian A), the forms within a given paradigm exhibit quite a bit of regularity. Ironically, this regularity in synchronic formation hides seeming irregularities in the historical evolution of the forms. Some scholars note the intrusion of forms in -nt- and suggest that this might hint at an origin in the PIE aorist participle in *-nt-; this remains a point of scholarly debate.

In those masculine forms where the final sibilant of *-wos- remains, we find the palatalization which we would expect in forms such as the nominative plural (*-wos-es > PToch *-wæsyä > B -weṣ) or even the dative singular, ultimately co-opted in the genitive (*-wos-ey > PToch *-wæsyäy > B *-weṣi > -weṣ-epi). From such forms the palatalized -ṣ- may have spread throughout the masculine paradigm. But we find a conspicuous lack of palatalization in the sibilant of the feminine declension. A possible explanation (Pinault 2008) lies in a combination of two factors: (1) *-i- does not necessarily palatalize the preceding consonant, in particular a sibilant (cf. Section 11.5.1 of Lesson 3); (2) the sequence *-iH₂-m may remain as *-īm in Proto-Tocharian. The combination of these factors would allow the development *-us-iH₂-m > PToch *-usīm > *-usi of the feminine accusative singular, from which the unpalatalized -s- may have spread through the rest of the feminine paradigm.

Though the historical evolution remains problematic, the declension is rather straightforward; this is in contrast to the general impression left by Tocharian, where straightforward historical evolution leads to rather idiosyncratic declension patterns. We illustrate the declension of adjectives of Type I with the verb AB yām- 'make'.

Type I   A Masculine   A Feminine           B Masculine   B Feminine
N Sg.   yāmu   yāmus           yāmu   yāmusa
G   yāmuntāp               yāmoṣepi    
Obl.   yāmunt   yāmusāṃ           yāmoṣ   yāmusai
N Pl.   yāmuṣ   yāmunt           yāmoṣ   yām(u)wa
G   yāmuñcäśśi   *yāmuntāśśi           yāmoṣäṃts   yām(u)waṃts
Obl.   yāmuñcäs   yāmunt           yāmoṣäṃ   yām(u)wa

The verb AB lä-n-t- 'depart' provides an illustration of Type II declension.

Type II   A Masculine   A Feminine           B Masculine   B Feminine
N Sg.   lantu   lantus           ltu   ltusa
G   lantuntāp               ltuweṣepi    
Obl.   lantunt   lantusāṃ           ltuweṣ   ltusai
N Pl.   lantuṣ   lantunt           ltuweṣ   ltuwa
G   lantuñcäśśi   *lantuntāśśi           ltuweṣäṃts   ltuwaṃts
Obl.   lantuñcäs   lantunt           ltuweṣäṃ   ltuwa

We illustrate Type III declension with the verb AB kälp- 'obtain'.

    A Masculine   A Feminine           B Masculine   B Feminine
N Sg.   kälpo   kälpos           kälpau   kälpausa
G   kälpontāp               kälpoṣepi    
Obl.   kälpont   kälposāṃ           kälpoṣ   kälpausai
N Pl.   kälpoṣ   kälpont           kälpoṣ   kälpauwa
G   kälpoñcäśśi   *kälpontāśśi           kälpoṣäṃts   kälpauwaṃts
Obl.   kälpoñcäs   kälpont           kälpoṣäṃ   kälpauwa

The verb AB pik- 'paint, write' serves to illustrate Type IV declension.

Type IV   A Masculine   A Feminine           B Masculine   B Feminine
N Sg.   pāpeku   pāpekus           papaikau   papaikausa
G   pāpekuntāp               papaikaṣepi    
Obl.   pāpekunt   pāpekusāṃ           papaikaṣ   papaikausai
N Pl.   pāpekuṣ   pāpekunt           papaikaṣ   papaikauwa
G   pāpekuñcäśśi   *pāpekuntāśśi           papaikaṣäṃts   papaikauwaṃts
Obl.   pāpekuñcäs   pāpekunt           papaikaṣäṃ   papaikauwa

Reduplication occurs with some verbs in Type I past participles; it occurs with all verbs in Type IV past participles. Those verbs whose past participles form according to Types II or III do not exhibit reduplication.

We also see from the above declension patterns that Types I, II and IV are identical in Tocharian A. That is, Tocharian A only shows two declension patterns: Type I-II-IV vs. Type III. Tocharian B shows a distinction between all four classes. Historically the distinction likely arises from the environment preceding the *-wos- suffix (Pinault 2008):

    PIE   PToch           Toch B
Type I                    
Nom. Sg.   *-C-uwōs   *-Cäwo   *-C(ä)wu   *-Cwu   -Cu
Nom. Pl.   *-C-uwos-es   *-Cäwæṣä   *-Coṣä   *-Coṣ   -Coṣ
Type II                    
Nom. Sg.   *-C-uwōs   *-Cäwo   *-Cúwo   *-Cúwu   -Cu
Nom. Pl.   *-C-uwos-es   *-Cäwæṣä   *-Cuwæṣä   *-Cuweṣä   -Cuweṣ
Type III                    
Nom. Sg.   *-ā-wōs   *-åwo   *-åwu   *-au   -au
Nom. Pl.   *-ā-wos-es   *-åwæṣä   *-åṣä   *-oṣ   -oṣ
Type IV                    
Nom. Sg.   *-H-wōs   *-āwo   *-āwu   *-au   -au
Nom. Pl.   *-H-wos-es   *-āwæṣä   *-āṣä   *-aṣ   -aṣ

We see a distinction between Type I and Type II depending on whether *-ä- carried the Proto-Tocharian accent or not in the nominative singular. We find in Type III the contraction *-åwæ- > *-å-, and in Type IV the contraction *-āwæ- > *-ā-. The point of departure for the Type IV declension appears to be the introduction of root-final -ā-, in origin the root-final laryngeal that was extended in Proto-Tocharian to a general marker of the preterite.

29 Subjunctive

As with the eponymous formation in Proto-Indo-European, the Tocharian subjunctive generally denotes a possible situation or action, that is, a situation or action that does not yet bear the status of a fact from the point of view of the speaker. In this regard it comes as little surprise that in Tocharian the subjunctive often serves as a future tense, inasmuch as future actions, by definition, do not have the status of fact... yet.

In terms of Tocharian morphology, we find a remarkable situation: the Tocharian subjunctive follows exactly the same paradigms as the present. That is to say, the Tocharian subjunctive falls into the same classes as the present, and employs the same endings. What then distinguishes the subjunctive from the present? Well, if a Tocharian verb forms its present according to some CLASS M, in general it will form its subjunctive according to another CLASS N, where M and N are different. That is, a Tocharian verb does not take both its present and its subjunctive from the same class. However, if it forms a CLASS N subjunctive, then the subjunctive conjugation is identical to how verbs with CLASS N presents conjugate their present.

WARNING: the above is only true up to a point. The preceding explanation is somewhat overly simplistic. However there is a reason for this: in broad outline it serves as a very good characterization. Overall there is no formal distinction between the present and the subjunctive. The distinction is handled on a verb-by-verb basis. Moreover, since the paradigms for the subjunctive are the same as those for the present, it is standard practice for grammars of Tocharian to omit subjunctive paradigms altogether. This practice will generally be followed here, with the hope that the reasoning has been made fairly clear (not always so in grammars of Tocharian!).

The chart below illustrates the correspondences between present and subjunctive classes in Tocharian. Consider the third person singular (active or mediopassive, depending on what survives in the documents) of both the present and subjunctive for the verbs AB pik- 'write, paint' < PIE *peiǵ-, A kum- B käm- 'come' < PIE *gʷem-, and A klyos- B klyaus- 'hear' < PIE *ḱleus-.

Root   Present (Class)   Subjunctive (Class)
A pik-   pikäṣ (I)   pekatär (v)
B pik-   piṅkäṃ (VII)   paikatär (v)
A kum-   kumnäṣ (X)   śmäṣ (ii)
B käm-   känmaṣṣäṃ (X)   śamäṃ (ii)
A klyos-   klyoṣtär (II)   klyoṣäṣ (ii)
B klyaus-   klyauṣäṃ (II)   klyauṣäṃ (ii)

With pik- we find a CLASS I present in Tocharian A, while a CLASS VII present in Tocharian B; both languages however form the subjunctive by conjugating according to the pattern of present CLASS V. With A kum- B käm-, both languages derive the present from CLASS X and the subjunctive from CLASS ii. Finally, the example of A klyos- B klyaus- hopefully clears up all doubt as to whether the subjunctive classes are truly formed the same as the corresponding present classes: Tocharian A and B both draw the present from CLASS II and the subjunctive from CLASS ii; since the classes are formally the same, the present and subjunctive forms for this verb are indistinguishable.

The true state of affairs is that the Tocharian subjunctive falls into three broad types:

  • Those subjunctive classes which actually have no analogue in the present classes;
  • Those subjunctive classes which only show stem ablaut different from that of the corresponding present classes;
  • Those subjunctive classes which are completely formally identical to the corresponding present classes.

Two subjunctive classes fall into the first type, two fall into the second type, and the remaining classes fall into the third type. Thus the lion's share of subjunctive classes does in fact correspond exactly to present classes, and so the above simplified explanation largely holds true.

29.1 Special Subjunctive Classes: iv, vii

29.1.1 Special Subjunctive Class iv

CLASS iv subjunctives occur only in Tocharian B, and rarely at that. The suffix -i- distinguishes the class. This marker, being the same as the general optative marker, leads to confusion between subjunctive and optative forms. A likely source for the suffix is PIE *-ye/o-; roots may show either zero grade, e.g. B wṣītsi 'to abide' < PIE *us-ye/o-, or full grade, e.g. B kälypītsi 'to steal' < PIE *ḱlep-ye/o- (cf. Gk. kléptō 'I steal'). Palatalization of the preceding consonant occurs as a result of the suffix; note that this palatalization pervades the entire paradigm, not restricting itself only to those forms whose thematic vowel was PIE *-e-.

The verbs B wäs- 'abide' and B ākl- 'learn' serve to illustrate the forms of CLASS iv subjunctives.

Subjunctive iv   B
1 Sg.   wṣīyau
2   *wṣīt(o)
3   waṣiṃ
1 Pl.   *wṣīyem
2   *wṣīcer
3   wṣīyeṃ
1 Sg.    
3   aklyītär
1 Pl.    
3   akliyentär

29.1.1 Special Subjunctive Class vii

CLASS vii subjunctives employ the thematic suffix -ñ-. This occurs in both Tocharian A and B, though rarely in the latter, and most commonly with causatives in Tocharian A. Though a thematic suffix, and therefore only properly palatalized when followed by *-e-, the -ñ-suffix has extended throughout the paradigm, and shows no depalatalized reflexes. Subjunctive CLASS vii and present CLASS XII (suffix -(ä)ññ-) remain distinct: the gemination in present CLASS XII (from *-n(H)-ye-) does not occur in subjunctive CLASS vii.

The verbs AB we- 'say, speak' (in Tocharian A with suppletive present träṅk-) and A nāk- 'condemn' illustrate the forms of subjunctive CLASS vii.

Subjunctive vii   A   B
1 Sg.   weñam   weñau
2       went
3   weñäṣ   weṃ
1 Pl.       weñem
2       weñcer
3   weñeñc   weñeṃ
Infin.       wentsi
Grnd. II       welle
1 Sg.        
2   nākäñtār    
1 Pl.        
3   nākñantär    
29.2 Varying Subjunctive Classes: i, v

The term varying, or alternating, in regard to subjunctive classes refers more specifically to the variation, or ablaut, of the original root vowel in Proto-Indo-European. Specifically, the varying subjunctive classes show remnants of PIE *o-grade in the active singular, and PIE Ø-grade elsewhere. As the Greek verb leípō 'I leave' illustrates,

Stem   Present   Aorist   Perfect
lip-   leípō   élipon   léloipa

the *o-grade provides the hallmark of the PIE perfect. The Sanskrit forms

Skt. Perfect   Active Sg.   Active Pl.
gam- 'go'        
1   jagāma   jagmima
2   jagantʰa   jagma
3   jagāma   jagmur

show the typical alternation between strong and weak forms in the perfect, that is, full- or lengthened-grade in the active singular, and zero grade elsewhere. The ablaut of the varying subjunctive classes in Tocharian therefore most resembles that of the PIE perfect.

29.2.1 Varying Subjunctive Class i

CLASS i subjunctives do not show the reflex and accompanying palatalization of the root-final consonant that occurs with the PIE thematic vowel -*e-. Moreover this subjunctive class lacks in Tocharian A the -a- < PToch *-æ- < PIE *-o- preceding the active first person singular ending -m; whereas Tocharian B employs the ending -u rather than -au. For these reasons scholars term CLASS i subjunctives athematic; this incidentally highlights the fact that the Tocharian subjunctive typically does not continue the original PIE subjunctive, since the latter is a thematic formation.

As in the present CLASS I, however, we do find the intrusion of some thematic endings: e.g. active third person plural A -eñc (compare A -iñc in the present) and B -eṃ. To illustrate the conjugation of verbs in this class, we list below forms pertaining to the roots A e- B ai- 'give' < PToch *āi- < PIE *H₂ei- and AB pärk- 'ask' < PToch *pärk- < PIE *pṛḱ-.

Subjunctive i   A   B   A   B
Active   e- 'give'   ai- 'give'   pärk- 'ask'   pärk- 'ask'
1 Sg.   em   āyu       preku
2   et   ait       *prekt(o)
3   eṣ   aiṃ       prekäṃ
1 Pl.   emäs   aiymo       pärkam(o)
2   ec   aicer       *parkcer
3   āyeñc   aiṃ       parkäṃ
Infin.       aitsi       parktsi
Grnd. II   el   aille       parkälle
1 Sg.           pärkmār    
2           pärktär    
1 Pl.                
2           pärkcär    
3           pärkäntär    

The root A e- B ai- remains invariable throughout the paradigm. The paradigm of AB pärk-, on the other hand, shows clearly the *o-grade *proḱ- > PToch *præk- > B prek- in the strong forms (singular active) and the -grade *pṛḱ- in the weak forms (elsewhere).

29.2.2 Varying Subjunctive Class v

CLASS v subjunctives exhibit the same stem ablaut pattern as those of CLASS i. What distinguishes CLASS v from CLASS i is the additional appearance of a stem-final PToch *-ā-. As with the preterite formation (Lesson 7, Section 34), this stem-final *-ā- derives from the original root-final laryngeal of the verbs forming the core of this class. This *-ā- then extended by analogy to roots which etymologically did not contain a root-final laryngeal. This stem-final *-ā- further affects the *o-grade reflex of the root: the stem-final *-ā- causes umlaut of the root vowel PIE *-o- > PToch *-æ-, resulting in PToch *-ā- root-internally. The following chart illustrates the development and some examples.

Stem   PIE   PToch   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Strong   *CoR(C)H-   *CæR(C)ā-   *CāR(C)-ā-   *CaR(C)-ā-   *CāR(C)-ā-
Weak   *CṚ(C)H-   *CäR(C)ā-   *CäR(C)-ā-   *CäR(C)-ā-   *CäR(C)-ā-
Strong   *stombʰH-   *stæmā-   *stām-ā-   ṣtam-ā-   stām-ā-
Weak   *stṃbʰH-   *stämā-   *stäm-ā-   ṣtäm-ā-   stäm-ā-
Strong   *TorKH₂-   *tærkā-   *tārk-ā-   tark-ā-   tārk-ā-
Weak   *TṛKH₂-   *tärkā-   *tärk-ā-   tärk-ā-   tärk-ā-

In the last example, *T represents an undetermined dental, *K an undetermined velar, consonant. The only reflex of this root outside of Tocharian is Hittite tarna- (with nasal infix), and Hittite orthography leaves the exact nature of these consonants ambiguous. In the Proto-Tocharian period, the root-final *-ā- was reanalyzed as a suffix and extended to roots of similar shape. To illustrate the CLASS v subjunctives, we provide below the forms of AB tärk- 'let go'.

Subjunctive v   A   B
1 Sg.   tarkam   tārkau
2   tarkat   tārkat
3   tarkaṣ   tārkaṃ
1 Pl.   tärkāmäs   tarkam
2   tärkāc   tarkacer
3   tärkeñc   tarkaṃ
Infin.       tarkatsi
Grnd. II   tärkāl   tarkalle
29.3 Identical Subjunctive Classes: ii, iii, vi, ix-xii

29.3.1 Subjunctive Class ii

CLASS ii subjunctives continue the true tradition of a thematic subjunctive from PIE. That is, the PIE antecedents of verbs with this subjunctive formation show the alternation *-e/o- of the thematic vowel. The verb A kum- B käm- 'come' < PIE *gʷem- provides a good example. Consider the evolution of the following forms.

Theme   PIE   PToch   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
*-e-   *gʷém-e-   *kyämyä-   *śämä-   śmäṣ   śamäṃ
*-o-   *gʷém-o-nti   *kyämyæntyä   *śämæyñc   śmeñc    

One finds confusion between presents of CLASS II and subjunctives of CLASS ii. Verbs with CLASS ii subjunctives, however, tend to form presents of CLASS VIII (for the causative), IX or XI, exhibiting -s- or -sk- suffixes.

29.3.2 Subjunctive Class iii

CLASS iii subjunctives, as with presents of the same class, tend to be intransitive and employ mediopassive morphology. They likewise show the thematic *-o- generalized throughout the paradigm. Consider the root PIE *tem- > AB täm- 'be born': PIE *tem-o-tri > PToch *tyäm-æ-tryä > A cmatär B cmetär. Verbs forming CLASS iii subjunctives tend to form presents of CLASS VIII (suffix -s-) or X (suffix -näs(k)-); the forms typically are intransitive with mediopassive morphology.

29.3.3 Subjunctive Class ix

CLASS ix subjunctives employ interestingly enough a suffix A -s- B -sk-. As with the CLASS IX presents, these verbs are usually causative. For the most part CLASS IX presents and CLASS ix subjunctives are indistinct. We do find, however, that Tocharian A CLASS ix subjunctives typically show -ā- rather than -ä- as a linking vowel before the sibilant suffix. For example, A wik- (causative) 'make disappear' forms present (CLASS VIII) active wikäṣ (from *wikṣä-ṣ), but subjunctive (CLASS ix) active wikāsam (1st sg.) and wikāṣ (3rd sg., from *wikāṣä-ṣ).

29.3.4 Subjunctive Classes vi and x-xii

CLASS vi subjunctives employ the suffix *-nā-. In these verbs the association of *-nā- with the perfective aspectual value of the subjunctive likely spurs the formation of the corresponding present by means of an additional PIE iterative suffix *-sḱ-: PIE *-n-H- + -sḱ- > PToch *-nāsk-. That is, verbs forming CLASS vi subjunctives generally form CLASS X presents; consider the following example showing the root PIE (s)peḱ- 'see' > PToch *päk- 'intend, want'.

    PIE   PToch   Toch A   Toch B
Subjunctive   (s)pḱ-   *pk-nā-tär       päknātär
Present   (s)pḱ-   *pk-nāsk-yä-tär   päknāṣtär   päknāstär
        *pk-nāsk-æ-ntär       päknāskentär

Subjunctives of CLASSes x, xi, and xii have sparse attestation. Their formation nevertheless completely parallels that of the corresponding present classes.

30 Instrumental & Causal

The instrumental and causal are the only secondary cases which fail to have representatives in both of the Tocharian languages. In particular, Tocharian A maintains an instrumental case, but lacks a causal; for Tocharian B the opposite situation obtains. This highlights the flexibility still present in the newly restructured case system in Proto-Tocharian: apparently the new secondary cases were not completely fixed by the time the two daughter languages began to diverge.

30.1 Instrumental

The instrumental case arises solely in Tocharian A, marked by the suffix -yo. As the name implies, this case expresses the instrument by means of which an action occurs. Its meaning overlaps with the English preposition with, in the sense of by (means of), as in the English sentences 'I hit the nail with a hammer' or 'I swat at flies with tennis rackets.' Unlike Sanskrit, Tocharian A does not employ the instrumental case to denote accompaniment, as in 'I went to the court with my teddy bear.' The following points provide examples to clarify the use of the Tocharian A instrumental case.

  • A wsā-yokās pokenyo añcäl pañwäṣ 'he spans the arch with gold-colored arms';
  • A ṣñi tsaryo elant eṣā 'he gave gifts with his own hand';
  • A kātkäṣtär-ñi tuṅky=āriñc 'she causes my heart to delight with love';
  • A plāntac kulenciṃ ñemiyo 'you (pl.) will be pleased by the womanly pearl';
  • A ñemintuyo kaknu 'furnished with pearls'.

As the last example illustrates, not only finite verb forms but also non-finite verb forms and adjectives may be accompanied by instances of the instrumental case.

Moreover, while the English preposition by may denote the agent of an action, as in 'I was struck in the head by my mother-in-law,' Tocharian A makes a sharp distinction between sentient and non-sentient agents. Consider the following example: poryo tskāṃsaṃtär mā wäryo sikaṃtär mā lāñcsā pärtsi yāteñc mā penu lyäksā kärnātsi yāteñc 'by fire they will not be burned, by water they will not be washed away, by kings they will not be able to be snatched up, nor by thieves will they be able to be stolen.' In italics we see that Tocharian A marks non-sentient agents, true instruments, with the instrumental case; however it employs the perlative case (in boldface) to mark sentient agents, not the instrumental case. In passive sentences, Tocharian generally expresses the agent with the genitive.

The instrumental commonly occurs in a number of senses related to those discussed above. The following list provides some examples.

  • Expression of Emotion: Tocharian A employs the instrumental to denote expressions of emotion, both literal and figurative. For example: A tsopatsäṃ kāckeyo 'with great joy'; A ākärnunt aśänyo 'with teary eyes'.
  • Manner: The instrumental may denote the manner in which an action occurs: A tämne-wkänyo 'in such a way'; A tämyo 'thereby, therefore'. We find a related use with numbers: A käntantuyo wältsantuyo tmānantuyo korisyo 'by the hundreds, thousands, ten-thousands (and) ten-millions'.
  • Progression in Space or Time: The instrumental may denote the extent of space or time through which an action unfolds. For example: A ṣpät-wälts we-känt ṣäptuk ṣäkpi kursärwāyo '7276 miles wide'; A päñcäṃ konyo 'over the course of fifteen days'.
  • Cause: The instrumental in Tocharian A may overlap in sense with the causal case found in Tocharian B. This denotes the reason or source of an action. For example: A ākntsuneyo 'out of stupidity'; A kipyo 'out of shame'; A tuṅkyo 'because of love'.
30.2 Causal

The causal case appears solely in Tocharian B, marked by the suffix . The use of this case is rare and generally denotes an expression of emotion. For example: B entseño 'out of envy, because of envy' (with the appearance of -o due to metrical considerations); B kawāñ 'out of greed'; B treme(ṃ)ñ 'out of anger' (this noun only occurs in the plural, to which the causal suffix is attached).

We also find in Tocharian B the causal form pel(y)kiñ 'for the sake (of)'. This is used as a postposition, and the noun it governs takes the genitive case.

previous lesson   |   next lesson

  • Linguistics Research Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    PCL 5.556
    Mailcode S5490
    Austin, Texas 78712

  • For comments and inquiries, or to report issues, please contact the Web Master at