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The Tocharian Gender System: A Diachronic Study

On the 23rd of March, Alessandro del Tomba successfully defended a doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Alessandro on this achievement!

Alessandro del Tomba
24 March 2020
Leiden University Repository

Tocharian is the name given to two closely related Indo-European languages, Tocharian A and Tocharian B, known from manuscripts discovered in the Tarim basin. Despite its late attestation, Tocharian has proved to be archaic, particularly in some sections of the morphology. However, the exact relationship of Tocharian with the other Indo-European branches remains an unresolved issue. The problem is that a strong impact of language contact and internal drift has resulted in an intricate combination of archaisms and innovations that are often difficult to be disentangle.

Examining the category of gender, this thesis contributes to the investigation of archaisms and innovations in Tocharian nominal morphology. It aims at providing a comprehensive treatment of the Tocharian gender system, describing how it historically derived from the Indo-European proto-language and why it typologically deviates from most of the other Indo-European languages.

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