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  • 1 University of Łódź Faculty of Philology, Department of Linguistics and Indo-European Studies ul. Lipowa 81 PL-90-568 Łódź Poland
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The present paper examines the origin of two Tocharian animal names, assuming that they were borrowed from an oriental source. The Common Tocharian term for ‘poisonous snake, viper’ (Toch. A ārṣal, B arṣāklo) reproduces exactly the Turkic name *arsala:n ‘lion’, whereas the Tocharian B partākto ‘camel’ seems to represent a loanword from East Iranian *pardāk(u)-tā (pl.) ‘leopards’ (perhaps created by a contamination with Altaic *aktan- ‘a castrated animal’). The phonetic aspects of both derivations are unquestionable. The semantic differences may be explained by the fact that Proto-Tocharians borrowed names of two unknown exotic animals and later they wrongly identified the word with different animals, transferring the Turkish name for ‘lion’ into ‘poisonous snake, viper’ and the Iranian name for ‘leopard’ into ‘camel’. The same process is perfectly attested in Slavonic (e.g. Polish słoń ‘elephant’ < Turkish (dial.) aslan ‘lion’; Pol. wielbłąd ‘camel’ < Greek elephas, -antos ‘elephant’) and many other languages.

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