[LMB] Romania and the Roma OT:

Eric Oppen technomad at intergate.com
Thu Apr 27 06:12:21 BST 2006


For the record, the majority population of Romania is _not_ Slavic, nor is 
it related in any major way to the Roma (gypsies).  Ethnic Romanians are a 
Romance-language-speaking people, with kin throughout the Balkans who speak 
related dialects (Romanian, Arumanian, Moldavian) and are often called 
Vlachs or Wallachs.  Other than these, the main national groups in Romania 
proper are Hungarians (Magyars, a branch known as the Szeklers), Germans 
(Siebenburger Saxons, as they're known) and some others---there were once a 
lot of "Phanariot" Greeks, but AFAIK they're pretty much all gone.

The Roma proper have origins in India somewhere; Romany (their language) can 
be anything from an almost-pure Indian dialect (recorded in the UK in 1910 
or thenabouts; I don't have the book open in front of me) to the language of 
whatever country they're in, heavily salted with words from the other 
countries they've been in, a la Nadsat.  I've seen poems taken from a book 
called _The Romany Rye_, written by a non-Roma who had studied them closely, 
that are obviously English, but so thickly laden with non-English words that 
an outsider (me, forex) needs a translation.  Some Romany words have 
percolated into English:  "dukes" for hands, "pal" (brother) for friend, and 
so on.  A lot of that came into English via the sporting life; Roma 
interacted with outsiders at fairs and sporting events.

And I would NOT repeat NOT advise calling a Romanian a "gypsy," or implying 
that there's any connection.  They would not find it at all 
funny---throughout the Balkans, the Roma are considered the scum of society. 



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