Tocharian

Tocharian is an extinct branch of the Indo-European language family which was spoken in oases on the northern edge of the Tarim Basin, an area which is now part of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Fragments of manuscripts and other writing in the Tocharian script dating from between the 6th and 8th centuries AD were discovered there in the early 20th century.

When the alphabet was deciphered, it was discovered that it represented two previously unknown languages which were dubbed Tocharian A, or East Tocharian, Agnean or Turfanian, and Tocharian B, or West Tocharian or Kuchean. Tocharian A appears more archaic and was used a liturgical language, while Tocharian B was spoken around Turfan and Tumshuq. The languages disappeared after Uyghur-speaking people settled in the area during the 9th century.

The Tocharian alphabet was derived from the Brahmi alphabet. It was written on palm, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, which were preserved in the dry climate of the Tarim Basin. Some inscriptions on mural have also been found.

Notable features

  • Type of writing system: abugida / alphasyllabary
  • Direction of writing: left to right in horizontal lines
  • Tocharian is a syllabic alphabet in which each consonant has an inherent vowel /a/. Other vowels are indicated with independent vowel letters or vowel diacritics.

Tocharian alphabet

Consonants

Tocharian consonants

Vowels

Tocharian vowels

Vowel indication

Tai Lue numerals

Fragment of a Tocharian manuscript

Fragment of a Tocharian manuscript

Links

Information about the Tocharian language and alphabet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharian_languages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocharian_script
http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/idg/toch/tochbr.htm
http://www.oxuscom.com/eyawtkat.htm

Images of Tocharian Manuscripts
http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/texte/tocharic

Syllabic alphabets / abugidas

Ahom, Badaga, Balinese, Batak, Baybayin (Tagalog), Bengali, Brahmi, Buhid, Burmese, Chakma, Cham, Dehong Dai, Devanagari, Dives Akuru, Ethiopic, Evēla Akuru, Fraser, Gondi, Grantha, Gujarati, Gupta, Gurmukhi, Hanuno'o, Javanese, Jenticha, Kaithi, Kannada, Kharosthi, Khmer, Khojki, Kulitan, Lanna, Lao, Lepcha, Limbu, Lontara/Makasar, Malayalam, Manpuri, Modi, Mongolian Horizontal Square Script, Mro, New Tai Lue, Oriya, Pahawh Hmong, Pallava, Phags-pa, Ranjana, Redjang, Shan, Sharda, Siddham, Sindhi, Sinhala, Sorang Sompeng, Sourashtra, Soyombo, Sundanese, Syloti Nagri, Tagbanwa, Takri, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Tigalari (Tulu), Tikamuli, Tocharian, Tolong Siki, Varang Kshiti