Top 10 Facts About the Romani Language
There was a time when humans lived in isolated communities. During that time, they didn’t know much about each other and it was easier to assume things. People feared each other and attributed the worst qualities to the other groups. Although prejudices still exist and we assume wrong things about groups and communities, the intensity of it has lessened. Because today we are connected with each other in various ways. Countries cooperate for mutual benefits. People go to other states for studies and jobs. Negotiations help end conflict and maintain peace. We have gathered a lot of benefits just by opening up to each other and staying connected.
However, there are still a few groups that we don’t know that well and that’s why it is easier to make up assumptions about them. Humans have never liked what they don’t know and it is no different with communities. They build up a whole idea of a group of people and instead of setting out to find out the truth, they continue assuming that what they think is right. Our ideas about the Amish people are one such example and since they are not around to defend themselves, we keep on thinking whatever we want to think.
The Romani People:
They are an ethnic group who are known for being itinerant. Although they originated from the Indian subcontinent, they moved out of the region almost 1500 years ago and went in to different directions. Today, they are mostly found in Europe and the Americas. Since there is no proper way of organizing details about a group that is not confined to a single place, the exact number of the Romani people is only estimated to be somewhere between two and twenty million. From their ancestry to their lifestyle, there are a lot of interesting facts about these people. But some people resort to calling them gypsies, which is considered an insult due to its meaning being associated with illegal activities.
The Romani Language:
Just like the people, their language is a fascinating thing too. The dialects of Romani developed a lot of unique features and ended up becoming separate tongues. There are also versions of Romani that are heavily influenced by the surrounding languages. Wherever the people go, their language get influenced by the local vernacular. That influence is more prominent in some communities than the others.
Top 10 Facts About the Romani Language:
Due to its unique features and interesting history, linguists study Romani with a certain fascination. Here are ten facts about the language to prove that it is worth all the attention it gets:
- The Dialects:
The vernacular has as many as eight dialects with all of them having features that differentiate them with the others. Some of them have a lot of similarities between each other. The largest dialects are Vlax Romani, Sinte Romani, and Balkan Romani.
- Recognized as Minority Language:
In one Latin American and seven European States, including Germany and Sweden, Romani is recognized as a minority language. This indicates the heavy presence of the Romani people in Europe.
- Similarities with Sanskrit:
There are many theories about the Indian origins of the Romani people but none of them are stronger than the fact that the Romani language shares similarities with Sanskrit. It also resembles Pothwari. All these similarities with Indo-Aryan languages work as a proof of Romani’s Indian origins.
The vernacular has taken a lot of loanwords from every tongue of the region where its speakers went. Romani of each region have a different type of language because they incorporate the local words in their day to day vocabulary.
- Inspired other Languages:
Other tongues have also taken loanwords from Romani. This trend can be seen better in slangs. British slangs have more words from the Romani language than American slangs. But it is making its way through different vernaculars.
After great research, linguists were able to come to the conclusion that this vernacular belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. The tongue lies in the sub-group Indo-Aryan. But an interesting thing about this language is that it is the only one in all of the New Indo-Aryan tongues to exist solely outside of the Indian subcontinent.
- Greek Influence:
When the ethnic group got to Europe, it was the days of the Medieval Greek. That’s why the vernacular ended up being heavily influenced by Greek. Those influences can be noticed even today.
The Romani vernacular was created to remain a means of communication between a small group of people but today, the different dialects are so unique that they are not mutually intelligible.
A lot of people of this ethnic group created their own tongue by retaining Romani lexical terms and mixing them with the grammatical rules of their second language. These tongues are referred to as Para-Romani.
- Standardized Form:
Due to its being divided in different regions along with its speakers, it has been almost an impossible task to create a standardized form of the language. That’s why it has not been turned into written form yet. Attempts are still being made to create a unified standardized form of the vernacular so that its speakers can use it in written conversations too.
Learning about these unique people and their language will help you get a better understanding of them and make you realize they are no different from us.