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Template:ChiRomaniRomani (/ˈrɒməni, ˈr-/;[1][2][3][4] also Romany; Romani: Template:Lang-rom) is any of several languages of the Romani people belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.[5] According to Ethnologue, seven varieties of Romani are divergent enough to be considered languages of their own. The largest of these are Vlax Romani (about 500,000 speakers),[6] Balkan Romani (600,000),[7] and Sinte Romani (300,000).[8] Some Romani communities speak mixed languages based on the surrounding language with retained Romani-derived vocabulary – these are known by linguists as Para-Romani varieties, rather than dialects of the Romani language itself.[9]

The differences between the various varieties can be as large as, for example, the differences between the Slavic languages.[10]

Name[chinja | edit source]

Speakers of the Romani language usually refer to the language as Template:Lang "the Romani language" or Template:Lang "in a Rom way".[11] This derives from the Romani word Template:Lang, meaning either "a member of the (Romani) group" or "husband". This is also where the term "Roma" derives in English, although some Roma groups refer to themselves using other demonyms (e.g. 'Kaale', 'Sinti', etc.). The English spelling "Rromani language" (with two initial Rs) may also be found, reflecting a different transcription of the Romani phoneme Template:Lang.

Before the late nineteenth century, English-language texts usually referred to the language as the "Gypsy language". In the USA, "gypsy" is still the most-understood term, as "Romani" is not in common use there.

Classification[chinja | edit source]

In the 18th century, it was shown by comparative studies that Romani belongs to the Indo-European language family.[12] In 1763 Vályi István, a Calvinist pastor from Satu Mare in Transylvania, was the first to notice the similarity between Romani and Indo-Aryan by comparing the Romani dialect of Győr with the language (perhaps Sinhalese) spoken by three Sri Lankan students he met in the Netherlands.[13] This was followed by the linguist Johann Christian Christoph Rüdiger (1751–1822) whose book Template:Lang (1782) proved Romani was descended from Sanskrit. This prompted the philosopher Christian Jakob Kraus to collect linguistic evidence by systematically interviewing the Roma in Königsberg prison. Kraus's findings were never published, but they may have influenced or laid the groundwork for later linguists, especially August Pott and his pioneering Template:Lang (1844–45). Research into the way the Romani dialects branched out was started in 1872 by the Slavicist Franc Miklošič in a series of essays. However, it was the philologist Ralph Turner's 1927 article “The Position of Romani in Indo-Aryan” that served as the basis for the integrating Romani into the history of Indian languages.

Romani is an Indo-Aryan language that is part of the Balkan sprachbund. It is the only New Indo-Aryan spoken exclusively outside the Indian subcontinent.[14]

Romani is sometimes classified in the Central Zone or Northwestern Zone Indo-Aryan languages, and sometimes treated as a group of its own.

Romani shares a number of features with the Central Zone languages. The most significant isoglosses are the shift of Old Indo-Aryan to u or i (Sanskrit Template:Lang, Romani Template:Lang 'to hear') and kṣ- to kh (Sanskrit Template:Lang, Romani Template:Lang 'eye'). However, unlike other Central Zone languages, Romani preserves many dental clusters (Romani Template:Lang 'three', Template:Lang 'brother', compare Hindi Template:Lang, Template:Lang). This implies that Romani split from the Central Zone languages before the Middle Indo-Aryan period. However, Romani shows some features of New Indo-Aryan, such as erosion of the original nominal case system towards a nominative/oblique dichotomy, with new grammaticalized case suffixes added on. This means that the Romani exodus from India could not have happened until late in the first millennium.

Many words are similar to the Marwari and Lambadi languages spoken in large parts of India. However, Romani is nearer to the Marwari spoken in Rajasthan, India. [15] Romani also shows some similarity to the Northwestern Zone languages. In particular, the grammaticalization of enclitic pronouns as person markers on verbs (Template:Lang 'done' + Template:Lang 'me' → Template:Lang 'I did') is also found in languages such as Kashmiri and Shina. This evidences a northwest migration during the split from the Central Zone languages consistent with a later migration to Europe.

Based on these data, Matras (2006) views Romani as "kind of Indian hybrid: a central Indic dialect that had undergone partial convergence with northern Indic languages."

In terms of its grammatical structures, Romani is conservative in maintaining almost intact the Middle Indo-Aryan present-tense person concord markers, and in maintaining consonantal endings for nominal case – both features that have been eroded in most other modern Indo-Aryan languages.

Romani shows a number of phonetic changes that distinguish it from other Indo-Aryan languages – in particular, the devoicing of voiced aspirates (bh dh gh > ph th kh), shift of medial t d to l, of short a to e, initial kh to x, rhoticization of retroflex ḍ, ṭ, ḍḍ, ṭṭ, ḍh etc. to r and ř, and shift of inflectional -a to -o.

After leaving the Indian subcontinent, Romani was heavily affected by contact with European languages. The most significant of these was Medieval Greek, which contributed lexically, phonemically, and grammatically to Early Romani (10th–13th centuries). This includes inflectional affixes for nouns, and verbs that are still productive with borrowed vocabulary, the shift to VO word order, and the adoption of a preposed definite article. Early Romani also borrowed from Armenian and Persian.

Romani and Domari share some similarities: agglutination of postpositions of the second layer (or case marking clitics) to the nominal stem, concord markers for the past tense, the neutralisation of gender marking in the plural, and the use of the oblique case as an accusative.[16][17] This has prompted much discussion about the relationships between these two languages. Domari was once thought to be the "sister language" of Romani, the two languages having split after the departure from the Indian subcontinent, but more recent research suggests that the differences between them are significant enough to treat them as two separate languages within the Central Zone (Hindustani) group of languages. The Dom and the Rom therefore likely descend from two different migration waves out of India, separated by several centuries.[18][19]

History[chinja | edit source]

Map showing the migrations of Romani people through Europe and Asia minor.

The first attestation of Romani is from 1542 AD in western Europe. The earlier history of the Romani language is completely undocumented, and is understood primarily through comparative linguistic evidence.[20]

Linguistic evaluation carried out in the nineteenth century by Pott (1845) and Miklosich (1882–1888) showed the Romani language to be a New Indo-Aryan language (NIA), not a Middle Indo-Aryan (MIA), establishing that the ancestors of the Romani could not have left India significantly earlier than AD 1000.

The principal argument favouring a migration during or after the transition period to NIA is the loss of the old system of nominal case, and its reduction to just a two-way case system, nominative vs. oblique. A secondary argument concerns the system of gender differentiation. Romani has only two genders (masculine and feminine). Middle Indo-Aryan languages (named MIA) generally had three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), and some modern Indo-Aryan languages retain this old system even today.

It is argued that loss of the neuter gender did not occur until the transition to NIA. Most of the neuter nouns became masculine while a few feminine, like the neuter अग्निTemplate:Lang (Template:Lang) in the Prakrit became the feminine आगTemplate:Lang (Template:Lang) in Hindi and Template:Lang in Romani. The parallels in grammatical gender evolution between Romani and other NIA languages have been cited as evidence that the forerunner of Romani remained on the Indian subcontinent until a later period, perhaps even as late as the tenth century.

There is no historical proof to clarify who the ancestors of the Romani were or what motivated them to emigrate from the Indian subcontinent, but there are various theories. The influence of Greek, and to a lesser extent of the Iranian languages (like Persian and Kurdish) and Armenian, points to a prolonged stay in Anatolia after the departure from South Asia.

The Mongol invasion of Europe beginning in the first half of the thirteenth century triggered another westward migration. The Romani arrived in Europe and afterwards spread to the other continents. The great distances between the scattered Romani groups led to the development of local community distinctions. The differing local influences have greatly affected the modern language, splitting it into a number of different (originally exclusively regional) dialects.

References[chinja | edit source]

  1. "Romany" in Oxford Living Dictionaries
  2. "Romany" in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
  3. "Romany" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
  4. Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
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  9. Template:Harvcoltxt "In some regions of Europe, especially the western margins (Britain, the Iberian peninsula, Scandinavia), Romani-speaking communities have given up their language in favor of the majority language, but have retained Romani-derived vocabulary as an in-group code. Such codes, for instance Angloromani (Britain), Caló (Spain), or Rommani (Scandinavia) are usually referred to as Para-Romani varieties."
  10. Hübschmannová, Milena (1993). Šaj pes dokaveras - Můžeme se domluvit. Olomouc: Pedagogická fakulta UP Olomouc: p. 23. Template:ISBN. (Czech)
  11. Template:Harvcoltxt
  12. Šebková, Hana; Žlnayová, Edita (1998). Nástin mluvnice slovenské romštiny (pro pedagogické účely) Template:Webarchive. Ústí nad Labem: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity J. E. Purkyně v Ústí nad Labem: p. 4. Template:ISBN. "V 18. století bylo na základě komparatistických výzkumů jednoznačně prokázáno, že romština patří do indoevropské jazykové rodiny a že je jazykem novoindickým" ["In the 18th century, it was conclusively proved on the basis of comparative studie that Romani belongs to the Indo-European language family and is a New-Indian language"]
  13. Marcel Courthiade, “Appendix Two. Kannauʒ on the Ganges, cradle of the Rromani people”, in Donald Kenrick, Gypsies: from the Ganges to the Thames (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2004), 105.
  14. Schrammel, Barbara; Halwachs, Dieter W. (2005). "Introduction". General and Applied Romani Linguistics - Proceeding from the 6th International Conference on Romani Linguistics (München: LINCOM): p. 1. Template:ISBN.
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  16. Template:Wikicite
  17. Template:Cite encyclopedia
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  20. Template:Harvcoltxt

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