History of the Romani language


In Europe, Roma or Gypsies generally call their language řomanes or řomani čhib 'the Romani language'. Most groups use the words řom and řomni as kinship terms to mean 'husband' and 'wife' respectively, but also as general designations for persons who are members of the group – řom '(Romani) man', řomni '(Romani) woman'. The plural řoma or řom is also used as a name for the collective, 'the Romani people'. Some groups have adopted other labels as well: Romacel, Romaničal, Kale, Manuš and Sinte are some examples of self-appellations used by Romani-speaking populations. Other group-specific names were adopted from other languages, often based on traditional occupations. Examples are Kalderaš 'Tinners' (from Romanian căldărar), Čurari 'Sieve-Makers' (from Romanian ciurar), Ursari 'Bear-Leaders' (from Romanian ursar), Sepeči 'Basket-Weavers' (from Turkish sepetçi), Bugurdži 'Drill-Makers' (from Turkish bugurcu), and Arli or Erli 'Settled' (from Turkish yerli). Non-Roma are usually referred to in Romani as gadže (gadžo 'non-Romani man', gadži 'non-Romani woman'). This is an ancient designation for outsiders which is also found among the Middle Eastern Dom as kaddža, among the Armenian Lom as kača, and among the different groups of Ḍom in India as kājwā, kajjā, or kājarō. In some regions, more specific names are found. For example, in the Balkans, Muslims (including Turks and Albanians) are referred to by the Roma as koraxane (after the tenth-century Central Asian Karakhanid Turkic empire). Slavs are referred to as das, based on das, an original Indic word for 'slave' – a word play inspired by the similarity between Greek sklavos 'slave' and slavos 'Slav'.