LINGUIST List 5.381

Sat 02 Apr 1994

Misc: Tocharians, NPR

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Don Ringe, mummies & Tocharians
  2. mark, 5.337 NPR bias ???
  3. Natalie Maynor, NPR and Anti-Southern Bias
  4. mark, Re: 5.337 NPR bias ???

Message 1: mummies & Tocharians

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 1994 11:43:14 mummies & Tocharians
From: Don Ringe <>
Subject: mummies & Tocharians

Dear Colleagues-- The Tocharians *have* been mentioned in connection with the
mummies in Xinjiang; Victor Mair looked into the possibility pretty
extensively, Mr. Hadingham phone-interviewed me for his article in *Discover*,
and he was extraordinarily careful to quote me accurately and get it straight.
What it boils down to is this. The mummies are certainly in the same area that
Tocharian mss. have been found--the northern arm of the silk road, between the
Tian Shan and the Takla Makan--but they're very much earlier; the mss. date
from about the 6th through the 8th cc. of the Common Era. What we really need
to know is *when* the Tocharians got to where we find them in (what in Europe
would be) the early middle ages. I understand there isn't a great deal of
historical evidence; what there is is summarized in one of the first papers in
Werner Winter's collection *Tocharica* (Poznan, 1984). What *is* clear is that
the Tocharian languages have been in contact with various Iranian languages for
a very long time. In addition to the very large number of Sanskrit loanwords
in both TA and TB (and a much smaller number of Prakrit loans), there are at
least three identifiable strata of Iranian loans. The most recent stratum are
Khotanese; they could have been borrowed in Xinjiang, since Khotan is on the
*southern* arm of the silk road, between the Takla Makan and the northern
borders of Tibet. An earlier stratum looks Baktrian and may show some
connection of the Tocharians with the Kushana kingdom, which flourished in
(roughly) Afghanistan, I think in about the 1st c. of the C.E.; but the nature
of the connection isn't very clear--were the Tocharians dwellers *in* the K.
kingdom, or outlying allies to the north (therefore maybe already in Xinjiang,
but maybe not), or just trading partners with extensive cultural contacts?
Finally, there is a tiny handful of loans that look eerily like pre-Proto-
Ossetic--therefore possibly Scythian (!)--and suggest that the Tocharians were
part of one of those loose confederations that were endemic to the steppes
until comparatively recently. But of course localizing such a confederation is
hopeless; it may not seem very likely that the Tocharians were still part of a
(mainly) Iranian horde when they first entered Xinjiang, but it *is* possible.
For more info on the loanwords, see Werner Winter's 1971 article in *Donum
indogermanicum* (the fs. for Anton Scherer, edited by Robert Schmitt-Brandt);
Abaev's book of 1965, *Skifo-evropejskie izoglossy*, is interesting but more
speculative. As for who those mummies were: sure, they might have been (pre-)
Tocharians, but bear in mind that anyplace the Tocharians were in their
prehistory, Iranians probably were also. So far as I can see, that's as far as
reasonable inferences can take us at the moment. --Don Ringe
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Message 2: 5.337 NPR bias ???

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 94 16:12:10 ES5.337 NPR bias ???
From: mark <>
Subject: 5.337 NPR bias ???

In 5.377, Natalie (Maynor?) writes from Rudy Troike's email

 Here are some e-mail addresses for NPR. I hope people will follow
 Dennis's suggestion of protesting. I may do it, although I'm afraid
 my anger will end up making my protest less coherent. Anti-Southern
 bias is one of very few things in the world that evoke anger in me.
 The only thing that makes me even angrier than anti-Southern bias is
 the even more specific anti-Mississippi bias. Like many Southerners,
 I feel what is perhaps an irrationally strong attachment to my state.

Excuse me, but what in the name of Panini are you talking about?
My search of this year's LINGUIST mailings fails to turn up any
mention of Southern speech or anything relevant about NPR. Who
is Dennis and what is the evidence for NPR's alleged bias against
Southern, and especially Mississippi, speech? Your discourse
anaphora lacks an antecedent. (I suspect that "Dennis's" posting
was to another list and Natalie accidentally or mistakenly
cross-posted her reply to this one.)

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA :
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Message 3: NPR and Anti-Southern Bias

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 1994 16:54:40 NPR and Anti-Southern Bias
From: Natalie Maynor <maynorRa.MsState.Edu>
Subject: NPR and Anti-Southern Bias

After getting several notes from people asking me about NPR and anti-
Southern bias, I discovered that something I wrote as part of an ongoing
discussion on ADS-L (American Dialect Society) had been forwarded to
LINGUIST by somebody else. The purpose of this note is to let you know
that (1) I did not even hear the offensive NPR broadcast, (2) I posted
the NPR addresses on ADS-L in response to somebody's request for them,
(3) I posted nothing whatsoever to LINGUIST about NPR, (4) I'll go back
through old ADS-L mail later and try to reply to those who have inquired
about the discussion -- I don't have time to do that right now because
I'm out of town, tying up somebody else's phone line and using my mushy-
keyed laptop.
 --Natalie (
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Message 4: Re: 5.337 NPR bias ???

Date: Thu, 31 Mar 94 18:19:54 ESRe: 5.337 NPR bias ???
From: mark <>
Subject: Re: 5.337 NPR bias ???

I'm sorry for wrongly accusing Natalie of this confusing post,
but when I saw her signature and email address in the LINGUIST
posting I inferred (mistakenly, as it now appears) that she was,
for some unmentioned reason, posting from someone else's account
-- as sometimes happens -- and giving her own address in the text
to facilitate replies. I have not yet heard from Rudy Troike,
who is apparently the responsible party.

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA :
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