Caesurae, Bridges, and the Colometry of Four Tocharian B Meters

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Caesurae, Bridges, and the Colometry of Four Tocharian B Meters

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Title: Caesurae, Bridges, and the Colometry of Four Tocharian B Meters
Author: Bross, Christoph; Ryan, Kevin M; Gunkel, Dieter

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Bross, Christoph, Kevin M. Ryan, and Dieter Gunkel. 2014. “Caesurae, Bridges, and the Colometry of Four Tocharian B Meters.” Indo-European Linguistics 2 (1) (January 1): 1–23. doi:10.1163/22125892-00201005.
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Abstract: The Tocharians composed verse in hierarchical structures, with the verse dominating major cola, and the major colon in turn dominating one or more minor cola. After providing much-needed descriptive data on Tocharian meter, we assess the evidence for the distinction between major vs. minor caesurae in some of the most popular Tocharian B meters, finding support for the commonly assumed colometries in some but not all cases. Of particular interest is the recurring 4+3-syllable colon, since the violability of its internal (putatively minor) caesura varies significantly across meters. We argue that this varying strictness is indeed a function of the meter as opposed to position in the verse, verse length, idiosyncrasies of certain texts, and so forth. We then use a systematic prose comparison method to test the meters for bridges, finding evidence for monosyllable avoidance in (certain) colon-final positions, despite an overall preference for monosyllables in verse vis-à-vis prose. Finally, we discuss the implications that our study has for the restoration of fragmentary Tocharian texts.
Published Version: doi:10.1163/22125892-00201005
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at
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