The structure of Romani


The borrowability of non-basic lexicon makes it impossible to estimate the actual number of pre-European lexical roots in ER. Adding together the pre-European vocabulary of present-day dialects, one might arrive at an estimate of possibly around 700 Indo-Aryan roots, with some 200-250 other pre-European roots, mainly of Iranian and Armenian origin. The fact that all dialects of Romani have Greek words for the numerals 7-9 (and often for 30-50 and above; see Chapter 11 for details) indicates that these were Greek borrowings in ER, and gives us a rough idea about the general extent of lexical borrowing from Greek in ER. It is likely that, for most domains except perhaps the most immediate, intimate lexicon (e.g. close kin, parts of the body, very basic foods and animals, verbs of movement), there was free use of Greek words. The adoption of Greek inflection class morphology (see below) indicates that lexical words were employed with elements of their original Greek morphology. As contact with Greek was lost, through migration or changing linguistic orientation following transitions in power (from Greek toTurkish, in the Balkans), the dialects preserved some Greek lexicon, but began to replace much of it with borrowings from the new contact languages.