Romany language

Indo-Aryan language of the Roma (see Rom), spoken in many countries of the world, with its greatest concentration of speakers in eastern Europe.

Romany is believed to have separated from the northern Indian languages с AD 1000. Its dialects, which include many loanwords from languages where the Roma have lived, are classified according to the languages that influenced them: Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Czecho-Slovak, German, Polish, Russian, Finnish, Scandinavian, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Welsh, and Spanish. Romany has no tradition of writing but a rich oral tradition. In the 20th century some collections of Romany poems and folktales were published in eastern Europe.

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also called  Gypsy  or  Gipsy 

      language, related to the North Indo-Aryan (Indic) languages, spoken on all five continents by Roma (Gypsies), who are generally considered by physical anthropologists to be of Indian origin. The main concentrations of Romany speakers are in eastern Europe. The Romany language, like the Roma as a minority people, seldom has received any legal recognition.

      It is likely, from the evidence of comparative linguistics, that Romany separated from related North Indian languages about AD 1000. Modern Romany dialects all over the world have been classified (by the Slovenian scholar Franz von Miklosich) according to their European originals, of which there are 13: Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Czecho-Slovak, German, Polish, Russian, Finnish, Scandinavian, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Welsh, and Spanish. The dialectal differentiations originated during the Roma's stay in the regions where these languages were spoken; while living in these regions, they accepted many loanwords from the native languages and sometimes phonetic and even grammatical features.

      The vocalic ( vowel) and consonantal (consonant) systems of all Romany dialects are clearly derived from Sanskrit (Sanskrit language). Some of the changes correspond to those undergone by modern Indian languages; others represent a more archaic state (e.g., the preservation of initial consonant clusters dr-, tr- and medial st[h], ṣṭ[h]); and a few are difficult to explain. The vowels of a typical central European dialect (Cracow-Lovari) are i, e, a, o, u. Indo-Aryan retroflex consonants have disappeared from the consonantal system, while Slavic fricative and affricate sounds have been accepted.

      Romany possesses a grammatical system analogous to that of the modern North Indian languages. The Romany direct case represents the Sanskrit nominative and accusative, while the oblique is derived from the genitive. Various postpositions (elements occurring after the noun) can also be added, as in Hindi or Bengali, for other syntactic purposes. The verbal system has three persons, two numbers, five tenses (present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, and future), and three moods.

      It is in its vocabulary that Romany best reflects the wanderings of its speakers. The main sources (apart from the original Indian stock) are Iranian (doshman ‘enemy,' from Persian doshman), Armenian, Greek (drom ‘way,' from δρóμος), Romanian (bolta ‘shop,' from boltă), Hungarian (bino ‘sin,' from bűn), and the Slavic languages (glas ‘voice,' rebniko ‘pond,' grob ‘tomb,' dosta ‘enough,' ale ‘but'). Indo-Aryan words include bokh ‘hunger,' from Hindi bhūkh; bāl ‘hair,' from Sanskrit bala; gelo ‘gone,' the past participle of źa ‘go' (compare Bengali jawa, gælo); and rat ‘blood,' from Prakrit ratta.

      There is no tradition of writing in Romany, but a rich oral tradition exists. One of the reasons for the survival of the language is its usefulness as an argot, or secret language, since the Rom style of life often leads to conflict with neighbouring communities. In the 20th century, poems and folktales were published in Romany in several eastern European countries, using their national scripts. Non-Roma (often referred to as gadje, a name usually considered pejorative) have also sometimes published in Romany.

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Universalium. 2010.

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