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Erromintxela language

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Native toSpain, France
RegionBasque Country
Native speakers
500–1,000 (1997)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3emx
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Location of the Basque provinces within Spain and France

Erromintxela (Basque pronunciation: [eromintʃela] (About this soundlisten)) is the distinctive language of a group of Romani living in the Basque Country, who also go by the name Erromintxela. It is sometimes called Basque Caló[3] or Errumantxela[4] in English; caló vasco, romaní vasco, or errominchela in Spanish; and euskado-rromani[5] or euskado-romani[6] in French. Although detailed accounts of the language date to the end of the 19th century, linguistic research began only in the 1990s.

The Erromintxela are the descendants of a 15th-century wave of Kalderash Roma, who entered the Basque Country via France.[7] Both ethnically and linguistically, they are distinct from the Caló-speaking Romani people in Spain and the Cascarot Romani people of the Northern Basque Country. Erromintxela is a mixed language (referred to as Para-Romani in Romani linguistics[4]), deriving most of its vocabulary from Kalderash Romani but using Basque grammar, similar to the way the Angloromani language of the Roma in England mixes Romani vocabulary and English grammar. The development of the mixed language was facilitated by the unusually-deep integration of the Erromintxela people into Basque society and the resultant bilingualism in Basque. The language is in decline; most of the perhaps 1000 remaining speakers live on the coast of Labourd and in the mountainous regions of Soule, Navarre, Gipuzkoa and Biscay.[8]


The migration of Romani people through the Middle East and Northern Africa to Europe

The origin of the name Erromintxela is unclear and may be of relatively recent origin; Basque speakers had previously grouped the Erromintxela under more general terms for Romani such as ijitoak "Egyptians", ungrianok "Hungarians", or buhameak "Bohemians".[1] However, a number of authors believe it to be a Basque rendering of the French name romanichel or romané-michel,[4][9] a name attested primarily in the vicinity of the Pyrenees and in particular the Northern Basque Country.[9] Romanichel is in turn a French rendering of the Romani phrase Romani čel "Romani person".[10] Though now uncommon in France, it is found in the names of the British Ròmanichal[11] and the Scandinavian Romanisæl, all descendants, like the Erromintxela, of a group of Roma who had migrated to France.[12]

Early attestations of the name in Basque include Errama-itçéla, Erroumancel,[9][13] later errumanzel and erremaitzela.[14] The initial e- is the Basque prosthetic vowel,[9] which was added at a time that no Basque word was allowed to begin with an r-. The final -a is the absolutive case suffix, which is used when citing a name. If that etymology is correct, it is a rare case of a native Romani name for themselves (an endonym) being borrowed by another language.

The people identify themselves as ijitoak, Basque for "gypsies", but more specifically as Erromintxela, in contrast to the Caló Romani,[15] whom they refer to as the xango-gorriak, Basque for "red-legs".[1][8]

State of the language[edit]

There are currently an estimated 500 speakers in the Southern Basque Country in Spain, approximately 2% of a population of 21,000 Romanis, and another estimated 500 in France.[1] In Spain the remaining fluent speakers are elderly people mostly over the age of 80; some are equally fluent in Spanish, Basque, or Caló. Middle-aged Erromintxela are mostly passive bilinguals, and the youngest speak only Basque or Spanish. In the Northern Basque Country, however, the language is still being passed on to children.[8] The percentage of speakers among Spanish Erromintxela are higher than 2%, as large numbers of Caló-speaking Romanis moved to the Basque Country in the intense period of industrialisation in the 20th century.[16]

Literary production[edit]

To date, there has been little literary production in the language. The most notable works are a poem by Jon Mirande entitled "Kama-goli" in his 1997 anthology Orhoituz[17] and the 1999 novel Agirre zaharraren kartzelaldi berriak by Koldo Izagirre Urreaga with the main character using the language.[18]


The Erromintxela arrived in the Basque Country in the 15th century speaking Kalderash Romani. They integrated much more deeply into Basque society than other Romani groups. In the process, they acquired the Basque language and adopted aspects of Basque culture such as increased rights of women and important traditions such as bertsolaritza (extemporaneous poetic song) and pelota (the national Basque ballgame).[7][15] Muñoz and Lopez de Mungia suspect that the morphological and phonological similarities between Romani and Basque facilitated the adoption of Basque grammar by the bilingual Romanis.[7]

It appears that many Romanis chose to stay in the Basque Country to escape persecution elsewhere in Europe.[7][16] Nonetheless, even here they were not safe from persecution. For example, the Royal Council of Navarre in 1602 passed an edict to round up all "vagabonds" (meaning Romani), who were to be condemned to 6 years of galley duty.[14] By the 18th century however attitudes had changed, and the emphasis shifted towards integration. In 1780–1781 the Courts of Navarre passed Law 23, which called for "the authorities to take care of them, find them locations for settlement and honest occupations and ways of living..."[14]


The oldest account of the language dates to 1855, when the French ethnographer Justin Cenac-Moncaut located the Erromintxela primarily in the Northern Basque Country. The oldest coherent Erromintxela text, a poem entitled Kama-goli, published by Basque writer Jon Mirande in a collection of Basque poetry, only dates to ca. 1960.[19]

Alexandre Baudrimont's 40-page study Vocabulaire de la langue des Bohémiens habitant les pays basques français of 1862, the most extensive of the early accounts, covers both vocabulary and aspects of grammar. He worked with two female informants, a mother and her daughter from the Uhart-Mixe area near Saint-Palais, whom he describes as highly fluent. Unfortunately, he was only able to conduct a single session as the women were then told not to cooperate further for the fear of outsiders prying into the secrets of the Romani.[20] There is a certain degree of confusion in Baudrimont's publication—he himself states that he could not always be certain the correct forms were elicited. For example, most of the verb forms he tried to elicit lack the verbal -tu ending and appear to be participles.[20]

The French sociologist Victor de Rochas refers to the Romani in the Northern Basque Country speaking Basque, rather than French, in his 1876 Les Parias de France et d'Espagne (cagots et bohémiens). The Canon Jean-Baptiste Daranatz published a wordlist in the periodical Eskualdun Ona in 1906[21] and in 1921 Berraondo and Oyarbide carried out some research.[8] Although labelled gitano (Spanish for 'gypsy') or bohémien / gitan (French for 'gypsy'), some data can also be found in Azkue's 1905 dictionary and Pierre Lhande's 1926 dictionary, both of which list a number of words identifiable as Erromintxela.[8]

Little more was done until the late 20th century. In 1986 Federico Krutwig published a short article in the Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos entitled "Los gitanos vascos", with a short word list and a brief analysis of the language's morphology.[22] However, the most detailed research to date was carried out by Basque philologist Josune Muñoz and historian Elias Lopez de Mungia, who began their work in the Southern Basque Country in 1996 at the behest of the Romani organisation Kalé Dor Kayiko, with support from the Euskaltzaindia and the University of the Basque Country.[8] Kalé Dor Kayiko, who had been working to promote the Romani language, was alerted to the existence of Erromintxela in the 1990s through an article by the historian Alizia Stürtze, Agotak, juduak eta ijitoak Euskal Herrian "Agotes, Jews, and Gypsies in the Basque Country".[7] Kalé Dor Kayiko intends to continue research into the language, attitudes, identity, and history of the Erromintxela people in the less well researched provinces of Navarre and the Northern Basque Country.[7]

Linguistic features[edit]

The research by Muñoz and Lopez de Mungia has confirmed that Erromintxela is not derived from Caló, the mixed Spanish-Romani language spoken throughout Spain, but is instead based on Kalderash Romani and the Basque language.[8] The vocabulary appears to be almost exclusively Romani in origin; the grammar however, both morphology and syntax, derives from various Basque dialects.[8] Few traces appear to remain of Romani grammatical structures.[7] The language is incomprehensible to speakers of both Basque and of Caló.[8]

Typologically, Erromintxela displays the same features as the Basque dialects it derives its grammatical structures from. Its case marking follows the ergative–absolutive pattern where the subject of an intransitive verb is in the absolutive case (which is unmarked), the same case being used for the direct object of a transitive verb. The subject of a transitive verb is marked with the ergative case. Similarly, auxiliary verbs agree with the subject and any direct object and indirect object present and verb forms are marked for allocutive (i.e. a marker is used to indicate the gender of the addressee).

Since both Erromintxela and Caló derive from Romani, many Erromintxela words are similar to Spanish Caló and Catalan Caló.

Erromintxela Caló[23] Root Meaning
baro varó/baró baró large, big
dui(l) dui dúj two
guruni guruñí gurumni cow
kani(a) casní, caní khajní hen, chicken
latxo, latxu lachó (fem. lachí) lačhó good
mandro(a) manró, marró manró bread
nazaro, lazaro nasaló (fem. nasalí) nasvalí bread
panin(a) pañí paní water
pinro(a), pindru(a) pinrró punró foot
trin, tril trin trin three
zitzai(a) chichai čičaj large, big


According to Baudrimont's description of 1862[20] and modern southern sources, Erromintxela appears to have, at maximum, the sound system below. Southern speakers appear not to have the rounded vowel /y/ or the consonant /θ/, in line with north-south differences in Basque, and it is not clear if the northern distinction between /ɡ/ and /ɣ/ also exists in the south.

Table of consonant phonemes of Erromintxela
Labial Coronal Dorsal Glottal
Bilabial Labio-

Palatal Velar
Nasal m
Plosive p
Affricate tz
Fricative f


Lateral l
Rhotic Trill rr
Tap r
  Front Back
unrounded rounded
Close i
Close-mid e
Open a

Baudrimont uses a semi-phonetic system with the following diverging conventions:

Baudrimont u ȣ y Δ Γ χ sh tsh z
IPA /y/ /u/ /j/ /θ/ /ɣ/ /x/ /ʃ/ /tʃ/ /z/


Examples of morphological features in Erromintxela:[1][7][19][22][24]

Erromintxela Basque Root Function in Erromintxela Example
-a -a Basque -a absolutive suffix phiria "the pot"
-ak -ak Basque -ak plural suffix sokak "overcoats"
-(a)n -(a)n Basque -(a)n locative suffix khertsiman "in the tavern"
-(a)z -(a)z Basque -(a)z instrumental suffix jakaz "with fire"
-(e)k -(e)k Basque -(e)k ergative suffix hire dui ankhai koloek "with your two black eyes"
-ena -ena Basque -ena superlative suffix loloena "reddest"
-(e)ko(a) -(e)ko(a) Basque -(e)ko(a) local genitive suffix muirako "of the mouth"
-(e)rak -(e)rat (Northern Basque) Basque -(e)ra(t) allative suffix txaribelerak "to the bed"
-pen -pen Basque -pen 1 suffix denoting act or effect 2 under
-ra -ra Basque -ra allative suffix penintinora "to the little stream"
-tu -tu Basque -tu verb forming suffix dekhatu "to see"
-tzea -tzea Basque -tzea nominalizer
-tzen -t(z)en Basque -t(z)en imperfect suffix kherautzen "doing"

Verb formation[edit]

Most verbs have a Romani root plus the Basque verb forming suffix -tu. Examples of Erromintxela verbs are given below.[1][19][22] (Forms given in angle brackets indicate spellings in the sources which are no longer in use. Basque is included for comparison.)

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] English translation
brikhindu[21] euria izan brišínd to rain
burrinkatu[21] harrapatu (astaráv) to catch
dikelatu, dekhatu[19] ikusi dikháv to see
erromitu (eŕomitu)[26] ezkondu to marry
gazinain kheautu[26] haur egin to give birth (lit. make a child)
goli kherautu, goli keautu[26] kantatu (gilábav) to sing (lit. make a song)
kamatu[19] maitatu kamáv[27] to love
kerau, keau, kherautu,[19] keautu[22][26] egin keráv 1 to do, make 2 auxiliary[26]
kurratu lan egin butjí keráv to work; J.M. de O. glosses this as "hit"[28] but compare various Basque expressions using jo in the sense of "getting down to, making an effort"
kurrautu ⟨kuŕautu⟩[26] jo to hit
kuti[19][26] begiratu dikáv to look
letu[19][26] hartu lav to take
mahutu,[26] mautu[26] hil mu(da)ráv to die, kill
mangatu[22][26] eskatu mangáv to ask for, beg
mukautu[26] bukatu to end
najel-egin[28] ihes egin to escape
najin[26] bukatu to end
papira-keautu[26] idatzi (skirív, ramóv) to write (lit. make paper)
parrautu ⟨paŕautu⟩[26] ebaki to cut
pekatu[22][26] egosi pakáv to cook
pekhautu[19] erre to burn
piautu[22][26] edan pjav to drink
tarautu,[26] tazautu[26] ito to strangle
teilaitu[26] jan xav to eat
tetxalitu, texalitu[26] ibili to walk
txanatu[22] jakin žanáv to know
txiautu[26] to ram in, push in
txoratu,[22] xorkatu[26] ⟨s̃orkatu⟩[24], txoatu[28] lapurtu, ebatsi, harrapatu čoráv to steal/swipe
ufalitu[26] ihes egin to flee
xordo keautu[26] lapurtu, ebatsi to steal (lit. "make theft")
zuautu[22][26] lo egin sováv to sleep

Most Erromintxela verbal inflections are virtually identical to those found in Basque dialects:

Erromintxela[19] Basque (Lapurdian)[29] Translation
ajinen duk[30] izanen duk you will have
dekhatu nuen ikusi nuen I saw it
dinat diñat I am (familiar female addressee)
erantzi nauzkon erantzi nauzkan I had taken them off
...haizen hi ...haizen hi ...that you are
kamatu nuen maitatu nuen I loved it
letu hindudan hartu hintudan You (familiar) took me
nintzan nintzan I was
pekhautzen nina erretzen naute They are burning me
pekhautu nintzan erre nintzen I (intransitive) burnt
pekhautzen niagon erretzen niagon I (intransitive) was burning (female addressee)
tetxalitzen zan ibiltzen zan I was going
zethorren zetorren It came
zoaz zoaz You go!

Negations are formed with na/nagi[21][22] (Romani na/níči); cf Basque ez/ezetz. The word for "yes" is ua[21] (Romani va); cf Basque bai/baietz.


The majority of nouns have Romani roots, but frequently attested with Basque suffixes. The variation of nouns cited with or without a final -a is likely due to informants supplying them with or without the absolutive ending. (Forms given in angle brackets indicate spellings in the sources which are no longer in use.)

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
angi[31] ezti (avdžin) honey
ankhai[19] begi (jakh) eye
anput̄a[28] buru head
asinia[21] botila (fláša) bottle
balitxo[21], balitxua[28] txerriki baló "pig" plus a Basque suffix pork
barki[20][21] ardi bakró ewe, sheep
barkitxu,[7] barkotiñu,[21], barkixu ⟨barkicho⟩[20], barrketxua ⟨baŕketxua⟩[28] arkume bakró "sheep", plus Basque diminutive -txu, tiñu lamb; J.M. de O. glosses it as "sheep"
barku[21] ardi bakró sheep
basta,[20][28], baste[21][22] esku vas(t) hand, arm
bato,[1] batu[21] aita dad father
bedeio (bedeyo)[20] erle (daraši) bee
bliku[21] txerri from balikanó mas "pork" pig
bluiak[21], brruttak ⟨bŕut̄ak⟩[28] poliziak (policájcur) policemen
budar,[22], budara[21], buldara[28] ate vudár door
burrinkatzea[21] harrapatze act of catching
butxa[28] arropa clothing
dantzari[19] dantzari (Basque root) dancer
dibezi[19][26] egun djes day
duta[22][26] argi udút (natural) light
egaxi[21][22][26] gaží a non-Romani woman
egaxo,[26] ogaxo,[22][26] egaxu[26] gažó a gadjo, anyone not Romani
elakri,[22] ellakria[32] neska(til) raklí girl
elakri-lumia[21][24] woman of ill repute
eramaite[19] erama(i)te bringing
eratsa,[21][26] erhatsa,[26] erhatza,[21] erratsa ⟨erratça⟩[20] ahate (goca) duck
erromi (eŕomi),[22][26] errumi,[24] errumia[21] senar rom 1 husband 2 wedding[33]
erromiti, errumitia[21] emazte romní wife
erromni emazte, emakume romní woman, wife
erromitzea[22] eskontza (bjáv) wedding
erromitzeko ⟨eŕomitzeko⟩,[26] erromitzekoa[22] eraztun (angruští) (the) ring (lit. "the one of marrying")
fula[26] kaka khul excrement
futralo[21][26] eau-de-vie
gata[19][21][26] ator gad shirt
gazin[19][26] haur child
giltizinia[26] giltza (čája) key
goani[21][22][26] zaldi (grast) horse
goia[21] lukainka goj sausage
goli[19][26] kanta gilí song
grasnia,[21][24] gasnia,[24][26] grasmiña[34] ⟨gŕasmiña⟩[28], gra[22] zaldi gras(t) horse
guru,[22] gurru ⟨guŕu⟩[26], grumiña ⟨gŕumiña⟩[28] idi gurúv ox
guruni[22] behi gurumni cow
gurutiño[21][24] txahal gurúv plus a Basque diminutive -tiño calf (animal)
haize[19] haize (Basque root) wind
jak,[22] jaka,[21][24][26] zaka,[26] aka[22] su jag fire
jakes[24][26] gazta (királ) cheese
jelua[28] soka rope
jera,[26][35][28] kera ⟨kéra⟩[20] asto (esa) donkey
jero[26] buru šeró head
jeroko[26] buruko beret (lit. "of the head")
juiben,[24] juibena[21] galtzak (kálca) trousers
kalabera[21][26] buru (šeró) head. Compare Spanish calavera, "Skull"
kalleria ⟨kaĺeria⟩[26] silverware. Compare Spanish quincallería, "hardware"
kalo,[26] kalu,[24] kalua[21] kafe (káfa) coffee. Compare Caló calé ("black") and Kali, the dark blue goddess.
kalo-kasta[19] ijito-kastaro Romani borough. Compare Caló calé ("Spanish Romani").
kamatze[19] maitatze < kamáv loving
kangei[21][26][35][28] ⟨kangey⟩;[24], kangiria[20] eliza kangerí church; Baudrimont glosses this "altar"
kani,[21] kania[24][26], kañiña[28] oilo khajní hen, chicken
kaxta,[20][21][22][26] kasta (casta),[20] kaixta ⟨kaïshta⟩[20] zur kašt wood, stick
kaxtain parruntzeko ⟨paŕuntzeko⟩[26] aizkora axe
kher,[19] khe,[26] kere,[24][26] khere,[22] kerea[21], kera[28] etxe kher house
kereko-egaxia[21] ⟨kereko-egas̃ia⟩[24] etxeko andre lady of the house
kereko-egaxoa ⟨kereko-egas̃oa⟩,[24] kereko-ogaxoa[21] etxeko jauna master of the house
ker-barna[26] gaztelu (koštola) castle
ker,[22] ⟨qer⟩[22], kera[21] asto (esa) donkey
kero, keru,[26] kerua[21] buru šeró head. See before jero.
khertsima[19][26] taberna Compare Old Slavonic кърчьма, кръчьма tavern
kiala,[21][24][26] kilako[24][26] gazta királ cheese
kilalo[26] cold air
kirkila[21][26] babarruna (fusúj) bean
konitza,[26] koanits,[26] koanitsa[21] saski kóžnica basket
laia[21][24][26] jauna mister, sir
lajai,[26] olajai,[26] lakaia, [21] orajaia[28] apaiz (rašáj) priest
laphail,[24][26] lakhaia[24] apaiz (rašáj) priest
latzi,[21] latzia[19][24][26] gau night
lona[21][24][26] gatz lon salt
mahutzea,[22] mautzia[21] hiltze mu(da)ráv (v.), plus the Basque nominalizing suffixex -tze-a killing (see mahutu v.)
malabana[21][26] gantzu (thuló mas) lard
mandro,[19][26] mandroa,[21] manrua ⟨manŕua⟩[28] ogi manró bread
mangatzia[21] eske mangáv (v.), plus the Basque nominalizing suffixes -tze-a act of begging
marrun[24] (maŕun)[26] senar husband
mas,[22] maz,[22] maza,[26] masa,[21][28] ⟨māsa⟩[20] haragi mas meat
megazin,[26] megazina[21] haur child (see before gazin)
milleka[24] ⟨miĺeka⟩[26] arto corn (maize)
milota[26] ogi (manró) bread
milotare-pekautzeko[26] labe oven
Mimakaro[24][26] Ama Birjina, Andra Mari the Blessed Virgin
miruni[24][26] emakume woman
mitxai,[19][26] ⟨mits̃ai⟩[24] alaba čhaj daughter
mol,[19] mola[21][26][28] ardo mol wine
mullon ⟨muĺon⟩,[21][26] mullu ⟨muĺu⟩[26] mando mule
ñandro,[21][24][26] gnandro[26] arraultz anró egg
oxtaben,[26][31] oxtaban ⟨os̃taban⟩,[24] oxtabena[21] gartzela astaripe prison
paba,[26] phabana,[24] pabana[21] sagar phabáj apple
paba-mola[26] sagardo cider (lit. apple-wine)
panin,[22][26] panina,[21][24] pañia[1] ur pají water
panineko,[26] paninekoa[22][28] pitxer; euritakoa (the) jug (lit. one for water), J.M. de O. glosses it as euritakoa "umbrella", literally "one for rain"
paninekoain burrinkatzeko ⟨buŕinkatzeko⟩[26] net(?) ("for catching [...] of the water", Lhande gives French filet)
paninbaru,[26] panin barua[22] ibai, itsaso (derjáv, márja) river, ocean (lit. "big water")
panintino,[26] panin tiñua,[22] penintino[19] erreka (len) small stream (lit. "small water")
pangua[7] larre meadow
panizua[21][24][26] arto corn (maize). Compare Spanish "panizo"
papin,[26] papina[21][24] antzar papin goose
papira[26] paper papíri paper
pindru, pindrua,[21][24][26] pindro,[19] prindo[26] hanka, oin punró foot
pindrotakoa[22] galtzak kálca trousers ("the one for the foot")
piri, piria[21][24][26] lapiko pirí saucepan
pora[21][24][26] urdaila per stomach
potozi[26] diruzorro wallet
prindotako[26] galtzerdi pinró (trousers) sock (lit. "the one for the foot"). See also pindrotakoa
puxka[28] (pushka)[20] arma puška. Compare Slavic pušĭka gun, weapon
soka[19][21][24][26] gaineko overcoat
sumia[21] zupa zumí soup
thazautzia[21] itotze taslaráv (v.), plus the Basque nominalizing suffixes -tze-a act of throttling
tejala[28] jana(ria) food
tekadi,[24][26] tekari[21][26] hatz (naj) finger
ternu[26] gazte young person
tiñua[28] the Basque diminutive tiñu; see also under barkitxu above) J.M. de O. glosses it as "lamb" and "chick"
txai[19][26] ⟨ts̃ai⟩[24] čhaj young person of either gender.
txaja[26] aza (šax) cabbage
txara[26] belar čar grass
txaripen,[22] txaribel[19] ohe (vodro) bed
txau,[26] xau[30] seme čhavó son. Compare English chav.
txipa[7] izen (aláv) name
txiautu[26] ijito a Romani person
txiautzia[21] ?, plus the Basque nominalizing suffixes -tze-a act of ramming in
txohi,[26] txoki[19] gona skirt
txohipen,[26] txohipena[21] čoripé petty theft
txor,[22] txora[21][26] ⟨ts̃ora⟩[24] lapur čor thief
txuri,[22][26] txuria[21] aizto čhurí knife
xordo,[26] txorda[21][26] ⟨ts̃orda⟩[24] lapurketa čoripé theft
xukel[26] ⟨s̃ukel⟩,[24] txukel,[22] txukela[21][26] ⟨ts̃ukela⟩,[24] xukela[28] (shȣkéla)[20] txakur žukél dog; J.M. de O. glosses this as "magistrate" and "dog"
xukelen-fula ⟨s̃ukelen-fula⟩,[24] txukelen fula[21] txakurren kaka dogshit
xukel-tino keautzale[26] female dog (lit. "little dog maker")
zuautzeko,[26] zuautzekoa[22] estalki (the) bedcovers
zitzaia,[26] zitzai,[31] txitxai[26] ⟨ts̃its̃ai⟩,[24] txitxaia,[21] sitzaia (sitçaia)[20], txitxaia[28] katu čičaj[23] cat
zume,[24][26] sume[26] zupa zumí soup
zungulu,[24][26] sungulu,[26] sungulua[21] tabako (duháno) tobacco
zut,[22] zuta,[26] xut,[22] txuta,[26] txuta ⟨ts̃uta⟩[21][24] esne thud milk


According to Baudrimot, the Erromintxela have adopted the Basque names of the months. Note that some of the Basque names represent pre-standardisation names of the months, e.g. August is Abuztua in Standard Basque rather than Agorrila.

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
Otarila[20] Urtarrila (januáro) January
Otxaila (Otshaïla)[20] Otsaila (februáro) February
Martxoa (Martshoa)[20] Martxoa (márto) March
Apirilia[20] Apirilia (aprílo) April
Maitza (Maïtça)[20] Maiatza (májo) May
Hekaña (Hékaña)[20] Ekaina (júni) June
Uztailla (Uçtaïlla)[20] Uztaila (júli) July
Agorilla[20] Agorrila (avgústo) August
Burula[20] Buruila (septémbro) September
Uria[20] Urria (októmbro) October
Azalua (Açalȣa)[20] Azaroa (novémbro) November
Abendua (Abendȣa)[20] Abendua (decémbro) December

Baudrimont claims that subdivisions of the year (apart from the months) are formed with the word breja (bréχa) "year": breja kinua "month" and breja kipia "week".[20]


Numerals (Basque included for contrasting purposes):[1][19][22]

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
jek,[26] jeka,[22] eka,[22][26] jek (yek),[20] jet (yet)[20] bat jék one
dui,[19][20][22] duil[20] bi dúj two
trin,[19][22] trin,[20] tril[20] hiru trín three
higa[26] higa (variant form) (trín) three
estard[20] lau štar four
pantxe,[22] pains,[20] olepanxi (olepanchi)[20] bost panž five

Adjectives and adverbs[edit]

Adjectives and adverbs are also mostly derived from Romani forms:[1][19][22]

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
baro,[19] baru[21][22] handi baró large, big
bokali[22] gose bokh hungry
buter[22] asko, ainitz but much, a lot
dibilo[22] dilino crazy
dibilotua[19] erotua < dilino (adj.) gone crazy
gabe[19] gabe (Basque root) without
eta[19] eta (Basque root) and
fukar[31] ederra šukar beautiful
geroz[19] geroz (Basque root) once
hautsi[19] hautsi (Basque root) broken
kalu[22] beltz kaló black. Compare "Caló" and Kali, the dark blue goddess.
kaxkani[26] zikoitz stingy
kilalo[21] hotz šilaló cold
latxo,[26] latxu[22] on lačhó good
londo[19] samur soft
nazaro,[21][22][24][26] lazaro[26] eri nasvaló sick
palian[7] ondoan nearby
parno[19] garbi parnó (white) clean
telian[22] behean téla under
tiñu,[22][24] tiñua[21] txiki cignó small
upre[19][22] gain(ean), gora opré on top, up

Pronouns & demonstratives[edit]

Pronouns are derived from both languages:[19][22]

Erromintxela Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
aimenge[22] ni mánge "me", possibly aménge "us" (dative forms) I
ene[19] ene (Basque root) my (affectionate)
harekin[19] harekin (Basque root) with it (distal)
hari[19] hari (Basque root) to you (familiar)
hartan[19] hartan (Basque root) in it (distal)
heure[19] heure (Basque root) your (familiar emphatic)
hi[19] hi (Basque root) you (familiar)
hire[19] hire (Basque root) your (familiar)
hiretzat[19] hiretzat (Basque root) for you (familiar)
mindroa[19] nirea miró my
neure[19] neure (Basque root) my (emphatic)
ni[19] ni (Basque root) I (intransitive)

Baudrimont's material[edit]

Much of Baudrimont's wordlist is easily related to other Erromintxela sources. However, some of the material collected by Baudrimont deserves a more detailed overview due to its peculiarities. Most of these relate to the verbs and verb forms he collected but some include nouns and other items.


His material contains a relatively high number of Basque-derived items.

Erromintxela[20] Basque Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
aitza (aitça) aritz oak
aizia (aicia) haize (diha) air
egala hegal (phak) wing
itxasoa (itshasoa) itsaso (derjáv) sea
keia (kéïa) ke (thuv) smoke
muxkera (mȣshkera) musker (gusturica) lizard
orratza (orratça) orratz (suv) needle
sudura (sȣdȣra) sudur (nakh) nose
ulia (ȣlia) euli (mačhin) fly (insect)
xuria (shȣria) (t)xori (čiriklí) bird

Certain items are peculiar. Baudrimont lists mintxa as "tooth". The Kalderash term is dand (daní in Caló) but the term given is immediately more reminiscent of Northern Basque mintzo "speech" or mintza "skin" (with expressive palatalization). This, and other similar items, raise the question of whether Baudrimont was simply pointing at items to elicit forms.

The forms he attempted to elicit are questionable in some cases as well. For example, he attempted to agricultural terms such as plough, harrow and aftermath from his (female) informants and records the suspiciously similar sasta "plough" and xatxa (shatsha) "harrow".

Verb system and pronouns[edit]

The verb systems and pronouns recorded by Baudrimont is peculiar in several ways. Apart from his problem of eliciting the citation form of verbs as opposed to participles, he lists pronouns and possessive pronouns that appear to contain Romani roots and an unexpected auxiliary.

The verb ajin for "to have" attested elsewhere although Basque derived forms appear more common overall. Kalderash Romani employs the 3rd person of "to be" and a dative pronoun to express ownership:

Erromintxela[20] Basque (allocutive forms) Romani[25] Erromintxela translation
mek ajin (mec aχin)
tuk ajin (tȣc aχin)
ojuak ajin (oχuac aχin)
buter ajin (bȣter aχin)
tuk ajin (tȣc aχin)
but ajin (bȣt aχin)
(nik) di(n)at
(hik) duk1/dun
(hark) dik/din
(guk) di(n)agu
(zuek) duzue
(haiek) ditek/diten
si ma
si tu
si les/la
si amé
si tumé
si len
I have
you have
he/she has
we have
you have
they have
mek najin (mec naχin)
tuk najin (tȣc naχin)
ojuak najin (oχuac naχin)
buter najin (bȣter naχin)
tuk najin (tȣc naχin)
but najin (bȣt naχin)
(nik) ez di(n)at
(hik) ez duk/dun
(hark) ez dik/din
(guk) ez di(n)agu
(zuek) ez duzue
(haiek) ez ditek/diten
naj/nané ma
naj/nané tu
naj/nané les/la
naj/nané amé
naj/nané tumé
naj/nané len
I don't have
you don't have
he/she doesn't have
we don't have
you don't have
they don't have
mek naxano (mec nashano)
tuk naxano (tȣc nashano)
ojuak naxano (oχuac nashano)
buter naxano (bȣter nashano)
tuk naxano (tȣc nashano)
but naxano (bȣt nashano)
(nik) izanen di(n)at
(hik) izanen duk/dun
(hark) izanen dik/din
(guk) izanen di(n)agu
(zuek) izanen duzue
(haiek) izanen ditek/diten
ka si ma
ka si tu
ka si les/la
ka si amé
ka si tumé
ka si len
I will have
you will have
he/she will have
we will have
you will have
they will have

1Note that forms like duk (3rd pers-have-2nd per (male)) are the verbal part whereas Erromintxela tuk is a pronoun.

The negative particle na is fairly clear in the forms above. Buter, as Baudrimont notes, is the word for "much, many" and may not be a true pronoun. Kalderash uses the accusative pronouns to express possession but the forms above are more reminiscent of wrongly parsed Kalderash dative forms mangé, tuké, léske, léke etc. and perhaps a different case of "to be" (the full Kalderash paradigm being sim, san, si, si, sam, san/sen, si).

On the whole, it raises questions about the level of communication between Baudrimont and his informants and the quality of (some of the) material elicited.

Connected examples[edit]

Examples with interlinear versions (lexical items of Romani origin marked in bold):






khere-ko ogaxo-a

house-ATTR master-ABS

"the master of the house"[22]










hire-tzat goli kerau-tze-n d-i-na-t

your(informal)-BEN song make-NMZ-LOC ABS.3SG-PRE DAT-FEM.ALLOC-ERG.1SG

"I sing for you."[19]


















xau-a, goli keau za-k, mol buterr-ago aji-n-en d-u-k

boy-ABS sing make have-ERG.FAM.MASC wine much-COMP have-PFV-FUT ABS.3SG-have-ERG.MASC.ALLOC

"Boy, sing, you will have more wine!"[19]








txipa nola d-u-zu?

name how ABS.3SG-have-ERG.2SG

"What is your name?"[8]












masa-k eta barki-txu-ak pangu-an d-a-o-z

meat-ABS.PL and sheep-DIM-ABS.PL meadow-LOC ABS.3SG-PRES-go-PL

"The sheep and lambs are on the meadow."[8]




















nire kera zure-a-ren pali-an d-a-o, hemen-dik obeto-ao dika-tu-ko d-u-zu

my house your-ABS-GEN proximity-LOC ABS.3SG-PRES-locate here-ABL better-COMP see-PFV-FUT ABS.3SG-have-ERG.2SG

"My house is next to yours, you can see it better from here."[8]


  • Baudrimont, A. (1862) Vocabulaire de la langue des Bohémiens habitant les Pays Basque Français Academie Impérial des Sciences, Bordeaux
  • Berraondo, R. (1921) La euskera de los gitanos in Euskalerriaren Alde - Revista de Cultura Vasca
  • Macritchie, D. (1886) Accounts Of The Gypsies Of India New Society Publications, New Delhi; 2007 Reprint ISBN 978-1-4067-5005-8
  • Michel, F. (1857) Le Pays Basque Paris


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Argüello, Xabier Ijito euskaldunen arrastoan El País (2008)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Erromintxela". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ethnologue Languages of Spain Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Matras, Y. A Linguistic Introduction Cambridge University Press (2002) ISBN 0-521-63165-3
  5. ^ Langues d'Europe et de la Méditerranée (LEM) La langue rromani en Europe Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  6. ^ Lougarot, Nicole Bohémiens Gatuzain Argitaletxea: 2009 ISBN 2-913842-50-X
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Brea, Unai Hiretzat goli kherautzen dinat, erromeetako gazi mindroa Argia, San Sebastián (03-2008)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Agirrezabal, Lore Erromintxela, euskal ijitoen hizkera Argia, San Sebastián (09-2003)
  9. ^ a b c d Macritchie, D. (1886) Accounts Of The Gypsies Of India New Society Publications, New Delhi; 2007 Reprint ISBN 978-1-4067-5005-8
  10. ^ Wood, M. (1973) In the Life of a Romany Gypsy Routledge ISBN 978-0-7100-7595-6
  11. ^ Council of Europe "Roma and Travellers Glossary" Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  12. ^ Hancock, I. (2001) A Glossary of Romani Terms, p. 182 in Weyrauch, W. Gypsy Law: Romani Legal Traditions and Culture University of California Press ISBN 978-0-520-22186-4
  13. ^ Mérimée, P. (1930) Lettres a Francisque Michel (1848-1870) & Journal de Prosper Mérimée (1860-1868) Paris, Librarie Ancienne Honoré Champion (pages 118-119)
  14. ^ a b c Auñamendi Entziklopedia "Diccionario Auñamendi - Gitano" Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  15. ^ a b Vizarraga, Óscar Erromintxela: notas para una investigación sociolingüística in I Tchatchipen, Vol 33, Instituto Romanó, Barcelona (2001)
  16. ^ a b Plan Vasco para la promoción integral y participación social del pueblo gitano Basque Government (2005)
  17. ^ Urkizu, P. & Arkotxa, A. (1997) Jon Mirande Orhoituz - 1972-1997 - Antologia San Sebastián ISBN 978-84-7907-227-8
  18. ^ Cazenave, J. Koldo Izagirre Urreaga in the Auñamendi Entziklopedia [1] Retrieved 19 February 2010.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg Mirande, Jon Poemak 1950-1966 Erein, San Sebastián (1984)
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao Baudrimont, A. (1862) Vocabulaire de la langue des Bohémiens habitant les pays basques français Academie Impériale des Sciences, Bordeaux
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd Daranatz, Jean-Baptiste Les Bohémiens du Pays Basque Eskualdun Ona #38 (September 1906)
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm Federico Krutwig Sagredo Los gitanos vascos in Revista Internacional de Estudios Vascos, Volume 31 (1986)
  23. ^ a b Adiego, I. Un vocabulario español-gitano del Marqués de Sentmenat (1697-1762) Ediciones Universitat de Barcelona 2002 ISBN 84-8338-333-0
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay Azkue, Resurrección María de (1905) Diccionario Vasco Español Frances repr. Bilbao 1984
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h Heinschink, Mozes & Krasa, Daniel Romani Wort für Wort Kauderwelsch 2004
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el Lhande, Pierre Dictionnaire Basque-Français et Français-Basque Paris 1926
  27. ^ Compare Sanskrit kama as in Kama Sutra.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa J. M. de O. El euskera de los gitanos. Euskal-Esnalea (1921)
  29. ^ Laffitte, Pierre Grammaire Basque Pour Tous Haize Garbia, Hendaye 1981
  30. ^ a b Saizar, Joxemi & Asurmendi, Mikel Argota: Hitz-jario ezezagun hori Argia Nr 1704, San Sebastián (1999)
  31. ^ a b c d Izagirre, Koldo. Agirre Zaharraren Kartzelaldi Berriak. Elkar (1999) ISBN 84-8331-439-8
  32. ^ Mitxelena, Luis Diccionario General Vasco - Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia VI Dag-Erd Euskaltzaindia, Bilbao (1992)
  33. ^ Mitxelena, Luis Diccionario General Vasco - Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia VII Ere-Fa Euskaltzaindia, Bilbao (1992)
  34. ^ Mitxelena, Luis Diccionario General Vasco - Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia VIII Fe-Gub Euskaltzaindia, Bilbao (1995)
  35. ^ a b Mitxelena, Luis Diccionario General Vasco - Orotariko Euskal Hiztegia X Jad-Kop Euskaltzaindia, Bilbao (1997)

External links[edit]