Talk:Romani people/Archive 1

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Archive 1 | Archive 2

Double Redirect

There is a double redirect from gypsies to Roma (people) to Roma people. I'm sorry I don't know if this doesn't matter or even how to fix it.


Folks, it's my understanding that these people call themselves "Rom" and consider Gypsy / Gypsies derogatory terms. How do we want to handle this?

I thought Rom was just one group of gypsies, the other being the Sinti? -- Simon J Kissane

Wow, this is even more complicated than I thought. :-) My main point was, "Do we want to list people under a term they consider offensive?" Comments?

I say yes, lets definitely not use words that might be considered derogatory. Maybe something like "Rom and Sinti"? (You might want to check first that I am correct about there being two groups with these names -- I'm not entirely sure, I just vaguely remember that there were something like that.)

Imagine that someone who knows nothing about that topic comes here and looks up "gypsies". You don't really want to throw a "not found" at them, do you ? Better -- Do use derogatory words as page titles. Make those pages very short -- briefly say the term is derogatory (some readers may not know), and link to the page titled with the term those people prefer. -- DavidCary

Also: what relation, if any, do Irish Travellers have to gypsies? -- Simon J Kissane

None, except that they're both traditionally semi-nomadic people and, this being the West, those that still move around tend to live in caravans. I thought the articles on the Roma and on Irish Travellers weren't confusing on this issue, so there's no need to change anything? -- Aleph
Please add as much as you can. Rmhermen 00:24, May 22, 2004 (UTC)

And for that matter, what's the difference between the Roma and the Sinti? The article goes to great lengths to say they're different, then doesn't tell us why. -- Paul Drye

Caught something the other night on some educational station (150 channels and can't keep them straight...) saying that at this point Romany has actually got a huge amount of loanwords from mostly central and eastern Europe, making it a kind of hybrid language (in the way that yiddish is). Anybody know anything about that? JHK

This is politically correct BS -- these people are called gypsies. Even the gipsy kings call themselves gipsies. Chinese don't call themselves Chinese either

We, Roma people in central Europe, call yourselves Roma (singular: Rom). We really consider the english word Gypsy, czech word cikan, or german word zigeune derogative. Bobby the Rom from the Czech Republic

I think "Gypsy" is an acceptable term, as it has historic relevance. Note, however, that the Roma call themselves different names in the different countries that they find themselves in. For instance, in Britain, Roma called themselves collectively Romanichals (Rommany Chals (Sons of Romany) and Rommany Chies (Daughters of Romany) - see George Borrow, "Lavengro" and "The Romany Rye". They didn't object to being called Gypsies or Egyptians, but this is based on the mistaken belief (that they also held themselves) that their origin was in Egypt. My own great-great grandparents were Romanichals, and we use the term Gypsies in the family when discussing our ancestors. I think the term Roma is now preferred, as Gypsy ("Egyptian") is a quirk of history - a mistake, rather than being offensive.

It seems the issue is a linguistic one; in English-speaking countries, the English word "Gypsy" is not considered offensive. However, in Germany, the word "Zigeuner", a German word that is equivalent to the English word "Gypsy" is considered by the Sinti to be extremely offensive. This may appear confusing - but note that the word "Zigeuner" was used by Germans and imposed on the Sinti. It may be helpful to think of "Zigeuner" as a rough equivalent to the word "negro" when applied to black people; the word "negro" was once widely used, but has now become taboo and offensive in the light of slavery and prejudice. So the Sinti, who lived through first the attempts of Emperor Karl VI, and then the Nazis' policies of extermination, despise the German word "Zigeuner".

An example of how the word "Zigeuner" was used by the officials of Germany was the conference convened in 1890 to discuss "Das Zigeunergeschmeiß", the "Gypsy Scum". In 1938 there was "Zigeuneraufräumungswoche", meaning "Gypsy Clean-Up Week" which was the equivalent of Kristallnacht for the Sinti.


In Hungary Gypsies are called Zygany. This is a very offensive term. Roma and Sinti are both Gypsies, but of different tribes or ethnic origins. They both originate from India (Sanskrit), but are different in origin. I understand they languages are similar too, but differ. I know they don't like to be callled Gypsies, so don't think we should call them that. Maybe redirect it to another page? Jorgenpfhartogs 07:14, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

> In Hungary Gypsies are called Zygany. This is a very offensive term.
In Hungary, the gypsy are called "cigány" (single) / "cigányok" (plural). There is no other word in the hungarian language to describe the gipsy, thus it cannot be offensive.
Since the fall of communism, authorities try to pressure the society to use the term "roma" / "romák" but this is artifical (foreign) to the hungarian language and did not gain much use in common speech. Especially, because Hungary has large common border with Romania, so it would be easy to mistake "román" people (of Romania, e.g. Bucharest) with the "roma" people (gypsy / tzigane). Otherwise, hungarians have very bad opinion about both gypsy and romanian people.
Euphemisms to describe the gypsy in hungarian include: "KGST indiánok" (COMECON redskins) or "barnák" (the brown ones) or "fekete sereg" (the black army). These are truly offensive. It is also fairly common to joke in Hungary that "I am not racist. But man is white." 11:45, 5 September 2005 (UTC)


An interestingly PC entry, in that every single reference in the entry calls them Gypsies, and that even the current use of "Gypsy" way outweighs the term "Roma and Sinti". I know I'd never heard of them. This goes against our basic policy of have the entry name be the common form. --The Cunctator

We should probably have a redirect from Gypsy to Roma (and Sinti, I guess, although I've never heard of them); if the Roma don't like the term, then don't use it. It's the same reason I changed San to Bushman: the word San has gained much popularity because this is "more politically correct" than Bushman (according to anthropologists), but it transpires that San is a Nama word for outsider, and the Bushmen themselves dislike it, preferring Bushman. I'm pretty sure that if we had a page about the "Indians" rather than "Native Americans", we'd get quite a backlash from some sections of the aboriginal American population. thefamouseccles 00:36 1 Dec 2003 (UTC)

More PC baloney -- native americans are fine with being called Indians now, as anyone who has lived in the US for the last 10 years knows. In the media they call themselves Indians and never raise a fuss about it if anynoe else does. After five hundred years of being Indians the change to Native American didn't stick.

I wouldn't object to referring to them as Roma as it's now considered more PC, but to say that they have never referred to themselves as Gypsies is absolute rubbish. I've known hundreds of Spanish Gypsies that have never referred to themselves as anything but gitanos, the Spanish equivalent of Gypsies.

Agreed - certainly Romanichals in Britain called themselves Gypsies and Egyptians when talking to Gorgios (non-gypsies). See George Borrow, "The Romany Rye, quote: "'What do ye mean by speaking in that guise to a gentleman?' said he; 'you insolent vagabond, without a name or a country.' 'There you are mistaken,' said I; 'my country is Egypt, but we 'Gyptians, like you Scotch, are rather fond of travelling; and as for name--my name is Jasper Petulengro, perhaps you have a better;"

This indicates that certainly Gypsies living in Britain two hundred years ago mistakenly believed themselves to have an Egyptian origin - although Egypt is certainly one of the countries they travelled through on their way to Europe.

Don't be silly, what you just quoted is obviously a Scotsman trying to intimidate and insult a gypsy (ironically in the same way Scots were intimidated and insulted at one time). The gypsy comes up with a standard statement that fools the fool of a Scot. No, the gypsy doesn't believe he's Egyptian.

It's like if I'm asked if I play roleplaying games by a fundamentalist christian. If I am tired of being told I'm damned, I'll tell him, "No, I'm an actor." Does this mean that I believe I'm an actor?


I know about a Roma legend that says that they simply fled India in front of foreign occupation, to avoid being slaughtered. Shouldn't this be mentioned along 'great mysteries of history'? Also, last year in Belgrade there was a concert of a band from India (called "Raja" if I recall well) that played "traditional Roma music". Now, the article says that there are no Roma in India... Nikola 06:32, 29 Jul 2003 (UTC)

The source for this is an expedition undertaken by a writer who was accompanied by a British gypsy through Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, Pakistan and India. East of Iran no one recognizable by the gypsy as gypsies was encountered although there were people in Afganistan who resembled Roma. It is well known that India is the origin of the Roma, but there just is no one in India that answers to the description or lives the Roma lifestyle. If there is tell us about it. Fred Bauder 06:14, 20 Dec 2003 (UTC)


In Romania they are refered as "tzigani", but this is more a derogatory term. I heard that in their language (Roma) means "man good for nothing", but I have no sure source. After communism fall, it was somehow offially imposed to call them rrom/rroms (with 2 r). [User:Mihai]

In Romania (a country, capital is Bucharest) press writes "rroma" to "prevent the dignitiy of Romania against foreign confusion with regards to tzigane people". The romanian people think they are the direct descendants of the magnificent ancient romans (of Julius Ceasar, Cicero, etc. fame). This theory of so called "draco-roman continuity " is otherwise pure nonsense, pseudo-science, in fact they are descendants of the "vlach" shephard tribes that arrived in the 14th century. Anyhow, romanians have high-self esteem and they do not want anybody to confuse them with the lowly gypsies, so they use the double-R form of the word. 11:54, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

A simple Google search can prove you wrong -- but hey, why not blame the Romanians, right? --Gutza T T+ 12:48, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

"Roma" means "man"; "man good for nothing" is a slur, and it's highly unlikely that a people would apply such a term to themselves.


"...continue their nomadic lifestyle traveling in caravans (small trailer homes), but..."

Really ? The stereotype I see on TV is that gypsies travel in "caravans (a group of several horse-drawn wagons travelling together)".

Note that television stereotypes only have a coincidental relationship with reality... Very, very few Roma still use horse-drawn caravans, due to the difficulties of finding grazing land in much of Western Europe, the slow pace, the limited facilities. Those who do still travel (again a minority of Roma, I believe) use car/lorry-drawn caravans (the trailer sort - 'caravan' having a slightly different meaning in the US than the UK where I'm from) and maybe motorhomes. -- Aleph

Roma people who live in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, and Poland have not been nomadic for more than a century. The "nomadic lifestyle" is a real stereotype supported by romantic literature and movies. Roma in Czechia live mostly in large towns where they can find jobs easily, as there is still a strong discrimination of the people. However, many young Roma people get high or university education in the states of central Europe. The situation is far cry from being called good, but I can see quite progress in some aspects. Young Roma think about emancipation, protest against discrimination, found associations and clubs. See an interesting website with other links, which is in thre languages: english, czech and romany. Bobby

Historically, British Gypsies slept in tents, not caravans. "Turnpike men" and other travelling non-Gypsies ("Gorgios") used caravans. See George Borrow ("The Romany Rye" Nowadays, caravans are de facto. You'll need to cover the historical aspect here if you're going to cover it.


As I was reading wikitravel (for example, ), I thought -- how appropriate that the #2 language on a travel website is *not* the #2 language spoken by people on the internet, but the language spoken by the nomadic Roma.

But now I'm not so sure -- is the "Română" language mentioned there really the Romanian language spoken in the country of Romania ? Is that the same or different from the "Calé ... Romany" language (Romany_language) spoken by the nomadic Roma and Sinti ?

The page you are referring to is in Romanian. — Miguel 19:07, 2004 Oct 24 (UTC)

Of course not. Romany is derived from an Indian language. Romanian is derived from Latin. Fred Bauder 11:09, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I think it would be good to cover loan-words from Anglo-Romani into English - words such as pal ("brother"), cosh ("stick"), cove (as in the old-fashioned word for man, not as in bay), chav ("boy"), and possibly posh and gigolo.

Meaning of "Roma"

Mihai, Roma does NOT mean "man good for nothing" in Romany (the language of the Roma). I mean, who would call themselved "good for nothing"?? Roma is the plural of Rom and in Romany means "men" or "people."

I do believe he was talking about Tsigani meaning that in Romany. --gcbirzantalk 10:33, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Parents selling their kids

I've always heard the story that parents sell their bad kids to Gypsies. Now, that's probably not true. But, what's the origin of that story?

That's one of a huge number of folk stories and myths that have grown up around the Roma over the centuries. It's similar to the (false, of course) medieval idea that Jews went round poisoning wells. It would probably be difficult to pin down the exact origins of a story like the one you mention. — Trilobite (Talk) 21:06, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I heard that story in Romania too. When you have a bad kid you tell him you will give him to the Gypsies. Actually you tell the kid you won't offer your protection anymore. It's just a weird "educational" method. One reason can be the fact that the Gypsies are always travelling, buying and selling diferent things.

"Don't talk with your mouth full or you'll marry a gypsy!"

"Go to bed or I'll sell you to the gypsies!"

Roma sometimes take the role of generic bogeyman when Bulgarian parents teach their children proper manners. Also, Bulgarian (and I think East European in general) people are an extremely racist people, at least from the American prespective. Then again, Americans are "class consious" in a way that is practically racist (discrimination against the poor).

In my own experience in Bulgaria, gypsies usually take the place of the "homeless people" in the US. Except that they are homeless people on steriods. Anything (especially street signs) not nailed down is promptly dissassembled and sold as scrap metal by these gypsies. In return, the government and many of the people treat Roma as an infestation, a vast barbarian horde ready to corrupt "our" precious youth and cherished national heritage.

I'm not too sure about the whole "traveling magician" sterotype. Or the Tarot thing. That's like saying black people in the US are traditionally farmers of cotton, who have a deep connection to Jazz music and all carry around saxophones. Roma, in my experience, are just a dirt poor disenfranchized minority, like blacks in America used to be.

In Brazil, the story that parents tell their children is that if they do not behave, the gypsies will take them away (no mention to the gypsies "buying" the children). I've read in a recent article that this myth comes from the fact that many people used to abandon unwanted babies in gypsies camps. It seems reasonable: parents wouldn't want other people to know that they had abandoned their children, so if they were recognized when grown up, parents would accuse gypsies of kidnapping them.

Sinti and Roma

I'm a Sinti woman myself and I live in Germany. And all I can say it is true we don't like to be called Gypsies because it is a discrimination for us. Some people here still look very strange when I tell them that I'm a Sinti like I wouldn't speak German or something like that.


On the one hand, this article says, "It is virtually impossible to identify Roma still living in India." And yet, there is an entire section divoted to similar bands of peoples in Northern India. This discrepancy should be addressed.

Article moved

Why has this article been moved with no explanation? And why has all mention of the Sinti been removed? If there is a reason, please explain. Rmhermen 00:39, Apr 4, 2004 (UTC)

Sinti has a separate article. Would you like to have an article English and Americans ? Mikkalai 02:49, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I have yet again moved the article (SORRY!!). I believe this version to be more of the liking of the majority. --Cantus 03:15, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)

But this article says that Sinti are a tribe of Roma! There is a quote just above from a Sinti who didn't find the previous combination strange. The Sinti article has a question on the talk page asking why it is not integrated here. This is a mess. The people section doesn't mention Eastern Europe except the Balkans. And the immigration to North American isn't covered -not even on Timeline of Roma history which completely contradicts the "Indian connection" section on this page (look at the dates). The page we link to says the four tribes are "Kalderash, the Machavaya, the Lovari, and the Churari"; we say 3 tribes - Kalderash, Gitanos, Manush (called Sinti). (The linked page gives "other groups include Romanichal, the Gitanoes (Calé), the Sinti, the Rudari, the Manush, the Boyash, the Ungaritza, the Luri, the Bashaldé, the Romungro, and the Xoraxai.) Other term we haven't explained include Vlach (Vlax), Ludar (Ursari), Romnichels (Rom'nies), Machwaya. Rmhermen 03:28, Apr 4, 2004 (UTC)
A thought - should the article perhaps mention some of the Romanes words in order to make the talk of Romani subgroups more clear? It might be useful to explain how the Kalderash, Lovari, Machavaya and Churari are all Vlach/Vlax Rom, then you've got the Sinti, Romanichal and Gitanos at a similar level of organisation (ie biggest scale). Then come what the article call 'tribes', but in Romanes and academia are known as 'natsia' - the subdivisions of Vlach Roma into Kalderash, Machvaya, Lovari and Churari. Mentioning the 'kumpania' (a unit who travel and live together) and 'familia' (extended family) would also be worthwhile (these might be specifically Vlax terms - I'm not familiar with other groups so'm not certain). -- Aleph
Another problem. This page [1] says that "Roma" is correct only in the Machwaya dialect of Romany. Other dialects use "Rom" as singular and plural. Rmhermen 03:43, Apr 4, 2004 (UTC)
This is stated in the article: Most Roma refer to themselves by one generic name, Rom (meaning “man” or “husband”) --Cantus 03:46, 4 Apr 2004 (UTC)
But the article is at Roma not Rom. Rmhermen 04:17, Apr 4, 2004 (UTC)

Largest minority

I removed the claim that the Roma are the "largest minority in Europe" since it is not clear what it means and I can't see in what sense it can be true. It clearly can't be literal (eg. people of the male gender are a minority in Europe!). Not can it mean "ethnic minority", since the Slavs, for example, are a far larger minority of Europeans. In the common sense of "people who are in a cultural minority in the area in which they live", I would imagine that they are outnumbered by Muslims, even in predominantly non-Muslim countries of Europe. If there is a sense in which it is true, by all means put it back with some clarification! Cambyses 06:19, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I would have said "largest non-Caucasian minority in Europe" but when I check our article on Caucasian I find that I am using a North American definition of Caucasian and that the other definition includes Turks (the second largest minority) and probably even Roma as Caucasian. Rmhermen 13:06, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)

For what its worth, given that the population of Istanbul alone is estimated between 11 and 15 million, I think there must be more Turks than Roma in Europe, too.... Cambyses 14:27, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

That would require a definition of Europe which included Turkey. Rmhermen 23:01, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)

Istanbul is definitely in Europe. You're right that Asia Minor (which forms most of Turkey by area) is not usually considered European, but there is a small part of Turkey on the Western side of the Bosphorus strait, which is as much a part of Europe as neighbouring Greece and Bulgaria. That is where Istanbul is located. Cambyses 01:46, 22 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Assessment comment

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Romani people/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 12:34, 6 December 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 22:01, 3 May 2016 (UTC)