The Indo-European language of the Tocharian people living in the Tarim River until about 1000 AD. It is comprised of an eastern dialect (Tocharian A), from the area of Turfan, and a western dialect (Tocharian B), chiefly from the region of Kucha but also from the Turfan area. Tocharian is the easternmost Indo-European language. The earliest known record is from the 7th century AD.

Tocharian was written in a northern Indian syllabary known as Brahmi, which was also used in writing Sanskrit manuscripts from the same area.

Tocharian forms an independent branch of the Indo-European language family not closely related to other neighbouring Indo-European languages, such as the Indo-Aryan and Iranian. Rather, Tocharian shows a closer affinity with the Indo-European languages of the northwest. The vocabulary of the language shows the influence of Iranian and, later, Sanskrit. Chinese had little influence.

It is unknown whether the Tocharians were related to the people who lived in the same area, the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, between 4000 and 2000 years ago, and who left mummies, the first of which was discovered by archaeologist Wang Binghua in 1978. These people had strikingly European features and were dressed in tartans.

A detailed study of the weaving style by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, in her book The Mummies of Ürümchi, led her to conclude that the mummified people were Celts, another western Indo-European-speaking people. (And therefore not ancestral to Tocharians, a different branch.)

tsraṣiñ waste wrasaśśi;
tsraṣiśśi mā praski naṣ

"The strong are the people's protection;
the strong are without fear." (Tocharian A)

Tocharian A = Turfanian = East Tocharian.
Tocharian B = Kuchean = West Tocharian.

Two languages formerly spoken in Xinjiang, of which most of the surviving records are Buddhist texts. Often referred to as dialects, some believe they are divergent enough to be called separate languages.

They are centum languages (A känt, B kante), which, along with their being the westernmost ancient IE languages found, gives support to the idea that the satem languages were an innovative group in themselves and not, say, that the centum and satem languages were two groups descended from an original source.

Tocharian's case system includes the nominative, genitive, ablative, allative, causal, comitative, instrumental, locative, and perlative. All but the first two were secondary, formed from an oblique stem with postpositions regularly added (as opposed to other IE langs, where the endings for different cases are different for different genders and numbers). Tocharian B also had a vocative.

The name Tocharian is given on the assumption that these people were the Twghry mentioned in Old Turkic manuscripts and the Tocharoi referred to in Greek. The idea that these are the same people does not appear to be widespread.

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