from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A member of a people living in Chinese Turkistan until about the tenth century.
  • n. Either of the two Indo-European languages of this people, called Tocharian A and Tocharian B, recorded from the seventh to the ninth century.
  • n. A branch of the Indo-European language family consisting of the two Tocharian languages.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. An extinct branch of the Indo-European language family, consisting of two languages, Tocharian A and Tocharian B, written in an abugida derived from Brahmi.
  • n. Any member of a people who inhabited the Tarim Basin and spoke Tocharian.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to Tocharian or the Tocharians.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a branch of the Indo-European language family that originated in central Asia during the first millennium A.D.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

From Latin Tocharī, the Tocharians, from Greek Tokharoi.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin Tochari, from Ancient Greek Τόχαροι (Tócharoi, "Kucheans") (see Τόχαρος), from an Old Iranian source (cf. Old Persian  (tuxāri-), Khotanese  (ttahvāra)) or Sanskrit  (tukhāra), from Old Chinese 月氏 (tokʷar, "Yuezhi").



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  • Additional historical note in comment on Twghry.

    December 30, 2016

  • "Given the region in which they were used--the northern route of the Taklamakan--it was logical to assume that the two Tocharian languages were share many elements with the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages spoken in the neighboring regions of Iran and India. But the two Tocharian languages turn out to have much more in common with German, Greek, Latin, and Celtic than with any Iranian or Sanskritic languages. ... Adams's tentative phrasing suggests that sometime in the distant past, probably between 3000 and 2000 BCE, the language that would develop into Tocharian A and Tocharian B calved off from the mother language of Proto-Indo-European at a time between when German speakers and when Greek speakers left the Proto-Indo-European population. Given how little we know of ancient migrations, and the risks of using linguistic evidence to reconstruct migrations, we cannot identify a homeland for the ancient speakers of Tocharian before they moved to the Tarim basin. It is also possible that other Indo-European languages more similar to Tocharian A and B were spoken in Central Asia but that no material in these lost languages survives."

    --Valerie Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History (Oxford and New York: Oxford UP, 2012), 72-73

    "Since the time of Sieg and Siegling (early 20th century), linguists have clarified the relationship between the two languages they called Tocharian A (more accurately called Agnean) and Tocharian B (now recognized to be Kuchean). ... By the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, then, Agnean ahd become almost entirely a written language used exclusively by Buddhists inside monasteries. Surviving Agnean texts display no regional differences, another sign that the language had largely ossified. Outside the monasteries, most of the people living in the region of Yanqi and Tufan were speaking either Chinese or Uighur. ... Kuchean and Agnean differ in important ways. The Kuchean language displays regional variants, the product of evolving use over time in different places, as well as clear stages of development: archaic, classical, late, and colloquial. ... Kuchean was still spoken at a time when Agnean had largely died out, but, after 800, Kuchean also fell from active use."

    ditto, p. 73, 74, 75

    December 30, 2016