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Tocharian B traksi,µ 'Grains' and an Indo­

European Word for 'Berry'


Douglas Q. Adams
University of Idaho

1. The meaning of traksi'f{I,:


The Tocharian B nominal form traksi'ffl, occu��lffl_�gv
Weber-McCartney medical manuscript (Filliozat 1948), at 1 0a5
and 22b2-3. In the first instance we have mamepi ypantse
traksi'ffl, 'the traksi'ffl, of ripe yap' and in the second we have just
ypantse traksi'ffl,. Both are in lists of ingredients for medicinal
baths, the first list ending se laiko tucepi yetsentse 'this bath [is]
for yellow skin [i.e. jaundice];' the purpose of the second list is
lost in a lacuna. From other contexts it is clear that yap is a
kind of grain. Under the assumption that Tocharian B yap
(and A yap) are borrowings from (Buddhist Hybrid) Sanskrit
yava- 'barley,' Sieg (1954:73) translates the Tocharian yap as
'barley' and essays 'awns' for traksi'ffl,. With regard to yap,
Thomas (1964) follows Sieg in both meaning and etymology;
there is no entry for traksi'ffl,. Couvreur (apud Thomas 1957:ix)
gives 'millet' as the translation for yap, on the basis of Chinese
parallels to Tocharian B texts in the Paris collection. Though
these texts have, to my knowledge, not yet been published,
there is no particular reason to think that Couvreur was wrong.
Inconsistently I glossed yap as 'millet,' but continued to gloss
traksi'ffl, as 'awns' (Adams 1999), inconsistent because millet of
course has no awns. 1
Traditional Indian medical uses of millet do not help us
understand the possible use of the second medicinal bath nor
to identify as concretely as one would like the part of the plant
called traksi'ffl,. Chopra (1954) reports that Indian medicine
uses the whole of the plant of Panicum miliaceum (aka "proso
millet, broomcorn millet, common millet") in treating
gonorrhea and the whole of the plant of P. miliare ("little
millet") as a nerve stimulant or tonic. The grains of Setaria

1The meaning 'millet' makes it extremely unlikely that yap is borrowed from
Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit. See Adams 1999:482-483 for its etymology.

Volume 33, Number 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2005