Definitions

Romany

Romany

[rom-uh-nee, roh-muh-]
Romany, language belonging to the Dardic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian languages). The mother tongue of the Gypsies, Romany has about 2 million speakers, largely outside India. The Gypsies apparently began migrating from NW India westward before the 9th cent. A.D. and had reached SE Europe before the 14th cent. They now live principally in central and E Europe and in Spain, although there are groups in the Western Hemisphere as well. 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.

See J. Sampson, The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales (1925); R. L. Turner, Position of Romani in Indo-Aryan (1927); J. Kochanowski, Gypsy Studies (1963).

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 circa 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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