Romania: Gypsies



I said: Romany has three main dialectal groups: Asian, Armenian, and European. In grammar it can be traced back to Sanskrit . It has borrowed considerable vocabulary from the languages of the various peoples among whom its speakers have lived and roamed. There is no important literature in Romany, but some biblical translations into Romany exist, for which both the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets were used. John Heelan comments: There are many English slang words that originated in Romany, such as chav or "chav" (or chavi) for a Romany child and now used to describe a style of dress and person; "chiv" for a razor or a knife; "diddecoy" a non-Romany traveller, usually derogatory and implying a criminal, "drum" for road now often used as slang for a house and so on.

In addition to that of the northern Romany migration route, there is a theory or a complementary southern route that tracked along the north African coast. Some people claim that the first gitanos in Spain accompanied the Moorish invaders in the 8th century.  My interest in the roots of flamenco has brought me into contact with the language of the Spanish gypsies- calé- that often provides some of the lyrics of cante jondo.  There are castellano-calé dictionaries available.

RH:I am immune to the charm which some people find in gypsies, gitanos. They have been a drag on Spain and on other countries.


Ronald Hilton 2004

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last updated: February 27, 2005