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Factsheets on Roma Language: General Introduction
Romani-Project Graz / Dieter W. Halwachs
The Roma, Sinti, Calè and many other European population groups who are collectively referred to by the mostly pejorative term “gypsies” refer to their language as Romani, Romanes or romani čhib. Linguistic-genetically it is a New Indo-Aryan language and as such belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. As an Indo-Aryan diaspora language which occurs only outside the Indian subcontinent, Romani has been spoken in Europe since the Middle Ages and today forms an integral part of European linguistic diversity.
The first factsheet addresses the genetic and historical aspects of Romani as indicated. Four further factsheets cover the individual linguistic structural levels: lexis, phonology, morphology and syntax. This is followed by a detailed discussion of dialectology and a final presentation of the socio-linguistic situation of Romani.
1. ROMANI: AN INDO-ARYAN LANGUAGE OF EUROPE
deals with the genetic affiliation and with the history of science and linguistics of Romani and Romani linguistics.
discusses the Romani lexicon which is divided into two layers: Recent loanwords from European languages are opposed by the so-called pre-European inherited lexicon. The latter allowed researchers to trace the Roma migration route from India to Europe.
describes the phonology of Romani, which includes a discussion of typical Indo-Aryan sounds and of variety-specific European contact phenomena.
is a description of the morphology according to its traditional division into nouns, verbs and particles and again deals with the dichotomy between European and pre-European elements.
presents the syntax of Romani which is syntactic-typologically classified as an SVO language due to its subject-verb-object sequence in a neutral declarative sentence.
deals with the plurality of Romani which manifests itself in a variety of dialects and varieties. The rather static representation of the dialect groups in Factsheet 6.0 is verified by a more dynamic view in Factsheet 6.1.
deals with the socio-political and socio-cultural situation of Romani and discusses both its position and its functionality in the collective linguistic repertoire of different groups of speakers.
The open form of factsheets was also selected for the description of Romani to allow extensions and additions both in the thematic areas and other areas, such as to provide detailed descriptions of individual varieties or dialects. As with the other topics covered, this constitutes an initial step and a basic first presentation and is by no means an exhaustive, final presentation of the subject area.
In addition to Matras, Yaron. 2002. Romani: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, the standard work on Romani and Romani linguistics which is also repeatedly cited and referenced in the individual factsheets, we would like to refer you to the websites of the two Romani projects involved in the preparation of the factsheets:
http://romani.uni-graz.at/romani/ und http://romani.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/
We are indebted to all the authors who contributed actively to the factsheets and the passive contributors who are cited as sources. We are grateful that we could rely on the expertise and support of Mozes F. Heinschink, who i.a. made the Romani Project at the University of Graz possible – and as a consequence also the factsheets – and who has been and still is of great help in all activities related to the topic.
THE LANGUAGE FACTSHEETS‘ TEAM
editing: Romani Project Graz | translation: Ulla & Henry Briscoe | layout and design: Marcus Wiesner | coordination: Romani Project at the University of Graz in close cooperation with the Romani Project at the University of Manchester and the Council of Europe project Education of Roma Children in Europe