The Tocharian A word for "rug" and Old Sinitic reconstructions, part 2

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[This is a guest post by Zhang He in response to the original post on this subject, which attracted considerable attention, such that a lot of people will be interested in what she has to say.]

1. About the Tocharian A word "kratsu" and 罽 and kràts

I am not expert in linguistics, but from general observation and understanding, it seems that Tocharian A "kratsu" does look or sound close to Old Sinitic "kràts". I would like to add 氍毹 qūshū or qūyū for consideration as well. Doesn't qūshū sound even closer to "kratsu"?  [VHM:  氍毹  MS /ɡɨo  ʃɨo/; OS  (Zhengzhang): /*ɡʷa  sro/]

In several dictionaries (see below), 罽 is interpreted as the same with 氍毹 qūshū. According to 说文, qūshū is a kind of local or regional dialect. I think it could be easily located to 西域 (Western Regions) or 罽宾 (an ancient kingdom in northwest India). As I concluded in my study on carpet terminology –- "The terms 罽, qūshū 氍毹, and 缂 could come from any one of the following: Sanskrit kocava, kocavaka, and kaukapaka, Pali kojava, Old Persian gaud, Niya Kharoṣṭhi koj̱ava, Khotanese gahāvara, gaihe, etc., and Sogdian gaudana." Now, there could also be the Tocharian A word "kratsu".

Also, I quoted in my same study on terminology:

"For example, Bailey's entries for Khotanese karasta– and kīḍakyä give such references as:

karasta– 'fur garment'; Pašto krasta 'felt, woolen cloth.' Base IE Pok (?). kēr 'to cut' (Bailey 1979, p. 54)

《康熙字典》:《疏》罽者,織毛爲之,若今之毛氍毹也。《註》師古曰:罽,織毛也。氍毹之屬。
《说文解字》(100–121 CE) 毛部:氍:氍毹、毾㲪,皆氊緂之屬,蓋方言也。从毛瞿声。毹:氍毹也。从毛俞聲。

2.    About 氊 zhān and 毯 tăn

First of all, referring to Laufer's 檀 tán or 氊(毡)zhān, 檀 is an obvious typo. He might have wanted to use 氊 zhān. 氊 could be pronounced as 亶 dăn or dàn as 说文 explains so (see below), although its general pronunciation is zhān (felt). As Laufer read it as either 檀 tán or 氊 dăn, he followed the sound of the word, not the graphic appearance. He might have mistaken 氊 for 毯 graphically. However, I do not think his mistake affects his connection to the Persian root tan.

氊/毡,氈(zhān, zhēn, dăn) –《说文》:撚(niăn)毛也,或曰撚執也,蹂也,蹂毛成片,故谓之氈。从毛。亶声。诸延切。Kneading and rolling over hair into a flat piece. (This is exactly the way to make felt.)

Secondly, 毯 (tăn) was not officially recorded until the Song dynasty in about 1008 CE in 《广韵》, but it appeared much earlier in Turfan with some excavated documents dated 418 CE (also see my terminology article). I do not think its appearance in the Tarim is accidental. 西域 (Western Regions) was and is still the place where wool is commonly used. Thus, for the Turfan Han people to use 毛(hair, wool)as the word for a carpet made of wool is very logical. As all later dictionaries explain, 毯 is pronounced as 菼 tăn, and means wool carpet. It normally was used as 緂 tăn. Indeed,緂 appears already in 《淮南子氾论训 ca. 140 BCE》 and《说文 100-121 CE》. The interesting note is, 緂 tăn refers mostly to fabrics of hemp, flax, and silk, also bright colors. Graphically we can tell why 糸(silk)and 艹(grass)are used for 緂 and 菼, because the fabric or cloth was normally made of fibers of silk or plants. It makes very good sense that in Turfan people made up a word with 毛(wool)for a woolen carpet.

As for the sound tăn, the origin of 毯 could be either Chinese 緂 tăn or Persian tan. However, I prefer to think it had a foreign origin because the actual woolen carpets, which are not popular in other regions of China, and the unique terminology 毯 appear together in the same Western Regions. The Chinese of Turfan might well have known about an existing word 緂 that sounded close to the local name for carpet, so they changed the graphic of the word to fit the actual material.

tăn 《广韵 ca. 1008 CE》《集韵 ca. 1039 CE》《韵会 ca. 1297 CE》吐敢切。《正韵 ca. 1375 CE》他敢切从音菼(tăn),毛席也。通作緂 tăn

tăn 《说文 ca. 100-121 CE》白鲜衣貌谓衣彩色鲜也。《淮南子氾论训 ca. 140 BCE》緂麻索缕。《广韵》吐敢切音菼(tăn),青黄色。《类篇》帛骓(zhuī)色。

Selected readings



9 Comments

  1. Chris Button said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 9:22 am

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    As for the sound tăn, the origin of 毯 could be either Chinese 緂 tăn or Persian tan.

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm not convinced by this based on the historical evolution of the Chinese form (https://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=45665#comment-1569952)

  2. Michael Watts said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 2:27 pm

    More evidence that I am unable to understand what exactly Chinese speakers think makes one sound similar to another sound. I can't see how modern qūshū or ancient /*ɡʷa sro/ could possibly be considered "even closer to 'kratsu'" than "kràts" is.

    The only thing that could be closer to "kratsu" than "krats" is "kratsu" itself. Going by the representation, they are in absolutely perfect correspondence.

  3. Rod Johnson said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 4:11 pm

    I'd like to hear what Don Ringe thinks about this. Besides his work on Tocharian, his early work on distinguishing chance resemblance from true relatedness makes me extremely skeptical of arguments based on "this seems very similar to that."

  4. Victor Mair said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 5:11 pm

    This is not a matter of "chance resemblance". It takes into account meaning, sound, technology, human migration, evidence from archeology, art, and history, plus geography and chronology (things appearing simultaneously at the right time and place).

  5. Chris Button said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 11:16 pm

    @ Michael Watts

    I can't see how modern qūshū or ancient /*ɡʷa sro/ could possibly be considered "even closer to 'kratsu'" than "kràts" is.

    I agree. I don't think 罽 *kràts (and associated Tocharian A "kratsu") is related to 氍毹 either.

    However…

    @ Zhang He

    [VHM: 氍毹 MS /ɡɨo ʃɨo/; OS (Zhengzhang): /*ɡʷa sro/]…

    …The terms jì 罽, qūshū 氍毹, and kè 缂 could come from any one of the following: Sanskrit kocava, kocavaka… Pali kojava…

    I think you might be onto something with 氍毹 here. Note how the Pali form "kojava" comes out in Written Burmese as ကော်ဇော "kawzaw" (disregarding tones).

  6. Chris Button said,

    January 26, 2020 @ 11:44 pm

    Incidentally, ignoring tones, ကော်ဇော would go back to kɐwdzɐw or kɐwɟɐw in Old Burmese (/ɟ/ being a voiced form of the palatal stop /c/ which ultimately came from /ts/ via its merger with /tsj/ and /tj/ in onset position)

  7. Chris Button said,

    January 27, 2020 @ 12:04 am

    On reflection, I would favor kɐwdzɐw since I think the written form စ (voiced in onset position as ဇ) was used for both *ts- in onset position as well as *c- (from *tsj- or *tj-) before they merged as the former (ulitimately giving modern Burmese s-), but only palatal *-c in coda position (from the palatalization of -k and -t via a medial -j- in certain environments).

  8. Rodger C said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 7:47 am

    I am unable to understand what exactly Chinese speakers think makes one sound similar to another sound.

    I am not expert in linguistics either, but I suspect that to some naive Chinese persons, a dissyylable would most naturally be explained by another dissyllable, because Syllables Are Everything.

  9. Chris Button said,

    January 28, 2020 @ 11:55 am

    @ Rodger C

    In terms of innateness, the syllable is everything–everything else is learned. Unfortunately linguistics as a discipline mostly hasn't managed to get its head around that.

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