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Inspired by this question Which Indo European language best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European?, I want to ask the follow-up question:

What did we learn for the reconstruction of Proto-Indogermanic from the Tocharian languages? The proto-language was already well fleshed out before the discovery of the Tocharian inscriptions. Did their discovery bring up some new insights?

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    Since you use both Indo-European and Indo-Germanic in your question, could you clarify whether you intend for them to refer to different things? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 4 '17 at 13:32
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    It is the very same for me. Thinking a little bit about it, I think Indogermanic is preferable because of Ancient European, the pre-Indogermanic substrate of European languages. It is weird to have a term Indoeuropean that explicitly excludes Ancient European substrate languages. In the question, Indo-European is a quote and I let it stand as it is. – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Aug 4 '17 at 13:36
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    What substrate are you referring to? – Anixx Aug 30 '17 at 11:01
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    @Anixx: There are some substrates (more or less postulated, evidence of them is rather thin), most notable one whose relict is the Basque language, I am also thinking about the Iberian language (the non-celtic one from Spain and Portugal) and the language of common European hydronyms. – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '17 at 11:48
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    @Anixx No, it doesn't. – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Aug 30 '17 at 13:18
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Generally speaking, Tocharian was not quite a game changer. Tocharian languages are the most-eastern IE languages; and yet they belong to the centum group, although they share with the satǝm group at least one phonetic feature – the unrounded velars where the western group has labio-velars. Tocharian shows us clearly, that the reconstruction of PIE is still incomplete. Some word forms confirm old PIE etymologies, and, at the same time, they raise new questions. Ex. g., the ‘earth’-words: To. A tkaṃ, tkanis with an initial dental stop like Hitt. tegan. Does it prove that Greek χθών had undergone a metathesis? If yes, why did this metathesis not occur in To. tkaṃ, keeping in mind the To. ‘tongue’-words A käntu, käntwis, B käntwo, käntwa, which look like they had been transformed by an old metathesis of the stops – cf., ex. g., Go. tuggo?

  • I don't think the last question is actually particularly difficult -- the environments are different. In the "earth" word TK is a cluster, in the "tongue" word T and K appear in onsets of successive syllables. – TKR Aug 13 '17 at 16:00
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    Nitpick: Assamese is the easternmost Indogermanic language (before the expansion of Russian to the pacific ocean). – jknappen - Reinstate Monica Nov 7 '17 at 10:40
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Here is my bid: The r medio-passive.

Before the discovery of Tocharian, the r medio-passive was already known from Italic and Celtic. Tocharian evidence asserts that it is a feature of Indogermanic (and not an Italo-Celtic innovation).

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    Hittite also has medio-passives in r (specifically -ri), but their status is debated: they occur alongside forms without -ri, and seem to be later, so they've been argued to be a secondary development. – TKR Aug 30 '17 at 21:44
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In some cases, Tocharian has provided new insights. For example, it has long been held that the word "sheep" was **H3owi-, but Tocharian showed *H2owi- is better, as it must derive from *awi not *owi. But, on the whole, I would say that Tocharian is not an easy IEan language to handle.

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    "it must derive from *awi not *owi" -- can you clarify what "it" is? – TKR Jan 31 at 21:09
  • it is the tocharian word for "sheep" – Arnaud Fournet Jan 31 at 21:51

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