One of the more interesting aspects of the TaklaMakan Desert area is its relationship to early Indo-European languages.  This little fable of the sheep and the horses has been translated by August Schleicher.

Schleicher's fable (avis akvāsas ka) is an artificial text composed in the reconstructed language Proto-Indo-European (PIE) published by August Schleicher in 1868. Schleicher was the first scholar to compose a text in PIE. The fable is entitled Avis akvāsas ka ("The Sheep and the Horses"). At later dates, various scholars have published revised versions of Schleicher's fable, as the idea of what PIE should look like has changed over time. The fable may serve as an illustration of the significant changes that the reconstructed language has gone through during the last 140 years of scholarly efforts.

The Sheep and the Horses. A sheep that had no wool saw horses, one pulling a heavy wagon, one carrying a big load, and one carrying a man quickly. The sheep said to the horses: “My heart pains me, seeing a man driving horses”. The horses said: “Listen, sheep, our hearts pain us when we see this: a man, the master, makes the wool of the sheep into a warm garment for himself. And the sheep has no wool”. Having heard this, the sheep fled into the plain.



(the-)sheep (the-)horses -and

owis ekwōs-qe

(the-)sheep, whose wool not was

owis, qesio wnā ne est

the-horses saw,

ekwoms speket,

the-one a-heavy a-wagon the-pulling,

oinom carum woghom weghont,

the-one -and a-big a-weight,

oinom-qe megām bhorom,

the-one -and a-man quickly the-carrying

oinom-qe ghmon ōku bheront

(the-)sheep now to-the-horses said:

owis nu ekwobhos wewqet:

"(the-)heart is-hurt to-me

“kd aghnutoi moi

the-horses the-leading a-man to-seeing"

ekwoms agont wīrom widtei”

(the-)horses then said: "listen, sheep!

ekwōs tu wewqont: “kludhi, owi!

(the-)heart is-hurt to-us to-seeing:

kd aghnutoi smei widtbhos:

(a-)man, (the-)master, of-the-sheep -for the-wool

nēr, potis, owjom- wnām

himself a-warm a-garment makes".

sebhi chermom westrom qneuti”.

of-the-sheep -and wool not is

owjom-qe wnā ne esti.

that having-listened (the-)sheep the-field fled.

Tod kekluwos owis agrom bhuget.


The Myth of Lop Nor The Sheep and the Horses
Return to Tarim Tapestry M.D. Coverley