guide to language:
may have noticed that words of Romany have been included in many
of our broadcasts as well as in messages left on the boards. The
language consists mainly of sanskrit words which are used in sentences
using a standard English construction.
instance Travellers might say 'Dick here chavvie' to mean 'look
here boy'. The sanskrit is of a form of language used in Northern
India in the ninth century and therefore gives us a clue when the
Gypsy people first left that area and began to travel the world.
addition to the Asian words are others that originate in 'Cant'
which was the language of the road used by the 'sturdy beggars'
of Elizabethan England.
meaning woman and 'kenna' for a house are examples of Cant words.
Also mixed into modern day Romany Pookering are occasional words
and expressions drawn from Cockney rhyming slang and other local
Romany words have also moved in the opposite direction and are used
locally by non Travellers, these include 'cushti' meaning 'good',
chavvie when used by Gypsies means 'son' or 'child' but is now used
by many non Gypsies to mean 'mates'. 'Wonga' comes from the Romany
'Vonga' meaning money.
older Romany Gypsies are concerned that because people no longer
travel like they used to and the children now go to school that
the old language is in danger of dying out.
Travellers tend to know less of it than their grandparents, although
in Roma schools in continental Europe there is a standardised form
of Romany now being taught.
are no standard spellings for Romany words because it is an oral
language which has always existed outside the academic environment.
are different opinions amongst Gypsy Travellers as to whether the
language should be put onto websites or made more widely known by
has always been a secret language used amongst Travellers to communicate
amongst themselves without anyone else understanding.
is also used by Gypsy Travellers to identify each other and to make
sure that the person you are talking to really is who they say they
Romany words used by local Gypsy Travellers:
you want to find out more a dictionary of European Romani can be
Wood comes from a large, well known Welsh Gypsy family but was born
near Paddock Wood in Kent whilst his family were travelling. His
English Romany word list can be found at:
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