The status of Romani


Having established the difference between Romani and the diverse set of special vocabularies used by various Traveller populations, we must however also mention the existence of a kind of 'blend' between the two: Some Traveller communities, such as the English Romanichals, the Welsh Kaale, or the Swedish so-called Tattare, but also the Spanish and Portuguese Gitanos (who are not, usually, Travellers), descend from Romani-speaking populations that, due to various historical circumstances (such as bans on the use of their language, or intermarriage with indigenous groups) gave up their language and shifted to the language of the surrounding majority population. However, they tend to retain a vocabulary of Romani origin as an in-group special lexicon. These speech forms, while historically derived from Romani, are functionally more akin to the diverse special lexicons of Travelling populations. Confusingly to outsiders, users tend to call these styles of speech (into which Romani vocabulary is selectively embedded) by the same term as we call the language itself, namely 'Romani'. In the linguistic literature, these speech varieties are referred to as 'Para-Romani'. Anglo-Romani is an example of such a variety.