Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Swettenham, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. Swettenham

    Swettenham Senior Member

    The "gypsies," the "Romany," the "Roma"— these are a few names for a huge group of people who live in Europe.

    They are said to have migrated to Europe from India centuries ago, and today form a minority/sub-culture in every European nation in which they live. Furthermore, for each different locality, the "gypsies" who live there may have a unique culture distinct not only from that of the majority population but also from those of "gypsies" of other localities.

    Hence, it is not surprising that they go by different names everywhere. Each distinct "gypsy" population— from nation to nation— may also have a completely different name for itself.

    It may be a mistake to refer to the "gypsies" as one group, as if they are all united and similar. In fact, words used to refer to "gypsies" are often based on mistakes— racist or otherwise. For example, many names developed from the early and incorrect assumption that the "gypsies" came to Europe from Egypt (gypsy, gitano, etc.). Other names, such as "traveller" in England, arise from a view of the "gypsies'" lifestyle.

    What are "gypsies" called and what do they call themselves in your country? How do these names reflect views of and beliefs about "gypsies" in your country? How do they reflect the "gypsies'" own culture and the way they relate to the majority culture in your country?
  2. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    The politically correct name in Czech is Rom (sing.), Romové (pl.).
    Many of them, however, take offence and proudly insist on the old word Cikán, Cikáni, which, in turn, is considered offensive by some groups who prefer Romové.

  3. alby Senior Member


    It's similare in Croatia, politically correct name is Rom (sing.), Romi (pl.).
    But people call them Cigani (pl.), Cigan (sing.m), ciganka (sing.f)

  4. mandarina_82

    mandarina_82 Banned

    in spain i only know the word "gitanos' to call them. it depens on how u say it, it can be pejorative or not. i think they use it to refer to themselves too.
    i know they have an own language, "romani" and now it is an official language in spain (1 month ago) but i always hear gypsy people talking in spanish so i don't know how it is spread.
  5. belén

    belén Senior Member

    Spanish, Spain, Catalan, Mallorca
    I also know the word "cíngaro"

    which could perfectly derive from the words stated above by Jana and Alby.
  6. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    I would say:

    Gitano: Ever, when a "payo" (not-gypsy) is talking.
    Cíngaro: When talking about a Balkan-origin gyspsy.
    Romaní: Politically correct form. In Spain the Association of gypsies is called something alike "Federación de Asociaciones Romaníes"

    Spanish gypsies use many idiosincratic words, but they speak mostly plain Spanish (or, some of them, Catalan in Catalonia). They claim they can understand with Hungarian and Middle Europe gypsies in "romaní", but, as is a spoken language, with no written form until a few years ago I am unsure of this.
  7. Kräuter_Fee

    Kräuter_Fee Senior Member

    Portuguese&Spanish (native)/ (English&German - foreign)
    Portuguese: cigano
    German: Zigeuner
  8. dejan123 Member

    slovenia, slo
    in SLO the same as Croatia

  9. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
    In French, the trendy politically correct term is gens du voyage (travelling people).
    But this phrase is only used by politicians and medias.
    The streetman says: les gitans (especially in the Southern half of France), les romanichels (a bit old-fashioned anyway, this word comes from a mixing with Romanian), les bohémiens (same as romanichels; coming from Bohemians).
  10. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Correct. More info:

    der Zigeuner (
    die Zigeunerin (
    die Zigeunerin (
    die Zigeunerinnen (

    There're two possible politically correct terms for that kind of people:

    der Rom (
    die Rom (
    die Roma (pl.)

    der Santo (
    die Santo (
    die Santi (pl.)
  11. _sandra_

    _sandra_ Senior Member

    Poland - Polish
    Hi there,
    In Polish politically correct term is: Rom (sing.); Romowie (pl.). However it's only used in media, universities and so on. The popular name is: Cygan (sing) Cyganie (pl) and I believe it can be considered offensive by some groups.

    ps. Unfortunately in Polish this popular term can have negative associations as there is a verb ocyganić/cyganić (which derives form cygan) = a very old fashioned word for cheating (so cygan = a cheater/ liar then).
  12. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    Hebrew: צועני (pronounced tso'ani, pl. צוענים, tso'anim). If I don't mistake, this word is derived from the verb צען which means "he wandered, migrated".
    As far as I know, it's a neutral word and has no negative connotations.
  13. Idioteque

    Idioteque Senior Member

    Italy - Italian
    In Italian we have many different terms:

    Zingari (m. pl), zingare (f. pl), zingaro (m. sing), zingara (f. sing)---> this is the most common form, together with Rom (indeclinable noun)

    Zigano and Gitano are two much commonless forms...

    Hope it helps, ;)

    Bye, Laura
  14. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Arabic: غجري (ghajari)
  15. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy - Italian
    The 2 principal groups names are Rom/Roma and Sinti (all principal italian circuses are led by sinti families). These names are commonly used, Rom in particular.
    "Nomadi" is today the most common politically correct (and generic) expression.
    "Zingaro" is quite common as well, and derogative.
    "Gitano" is rare and literary, old-fashioned.
    The old-fashioned "tzigano" was common as an adjective: "Un violino tzigano" = a gypsy violin.

    JESUS MARIA Senior Member


    Good afternoon Mr. Sweetnham:
    Sorry for not answering you before.
    In Spain themselves are called "Caló" .I suppose this word becomes from their own language spoken in Spain: Caló.
    Formerly their main activities were founded in selling and domestic trading. They were always travelling all around Spain. I had got several gypsies.
    The politically correct form to call them actually is "Colectivo Rom".Actually most of them only speak Spanish, but they are trying to rescue their own language.In Spain is not spoken Roman language, only 0,1 per cent.
    Actually they need to rescue their older caló language(it is between Roman and spanish language).
    Nowadays they work selling clothes and another things such as iron works, but the most of them have not attended university courses.

    Hope it helps you Mr.Sweetnham.
  17. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    same in Serbia
    (what a coincidence, the same name, isn`t it?)
  18. Whodunit

    Whodunit Senior Member

    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Except for your version, my dictionary also gives نور (nawar) as a collective term for "gypsies". What do you think about that? :)
  19. mia04 Senior Member


    in greek i think its 'tsiganos'
  20. Swettenham

    Swettenham Senior Member

    I'd be interested to know if the Arabic terms, as well as all the other terms that have been mentioned here, have meanings or noteworthy origins.

    I have heard that populations of Romany-speakers and their descendants stretch from India to Spain— is this true? Are there minorities, however tiny, of gypsies in Arabic speaking nations?

    Your comments were very interesting, sir. Thank you!

    Thank you for mentioning Caló especially, Jesús.

    Does anyone on this forum speak Caló or Romany? Or does anyone know at least a little bit about Caló or Romany or know somebody who does?
  21. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Caló is the Romance dialect spoken by Iberian gypsies. Note that it is not the same as Romany. I think the Wikipedia has a small entry on caló.
  22. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I believe نور is a specific tribe of gypsies, but I'm not positive. غجر is certainly the official term.
  23. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I don't know about the etymology, but I do know that "nawar" (the term Whodunit asked about it) is used in everyday speech in a derogatory way. It refers to those who are uncouth, uncivilized, uncultured, etc. "Ghajar" (the "official" term I suggested) is also used in that way, but much more rarely.

    I do not know of any gypsies in Palestine.
  24. yoli_gee Member

    Spain, Spanish
    In Spain they get called Gitanos, as some of you have already pointed out. However they often refer to themselves as La Raza Calé and they say that they speak Calé also. Below we can see the definition of Calé that the online Diccionario de la Real Academia offers:

    calé.(Del caló caló, negro).1. m. gitano (ǁ individuo de un pueblo originario de la India).2. (Por el color oscuro de la moneda de cobre, en oposición a la de plata). m. Moneda de cobre que valía un cuarto, o sea cuatro maravedís.3. m. Col. y Ecuad. Antigua moneda de cuartillo de real.
  25. Tabac Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest (USA)
    U. S. - English
    In Turkey, they are Çerkez.
  26. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    Chinese:吉普賽(人), simply translated from its pronunciation.

    JESUS MARIA Senior Member

    Good Afternoon mr. Swettenham:
    "Motho manqe,Rrom¡ ea, kaj amari phuv,
    amare plaja, amare lená, amare umála
    Thaj amare vesa?
    Kaj amaro them?
    Kaj amare limora?
    -And_e lava tane, amare chibaquere"

    Por así decirlo, en España el idioma caló, es como el spanglish del Romaní.

    I hope it helps you, Mr. Swettenham.
    Good bye.
    Do you Know anything about sanscrito?
  28. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    Jesus maria, ¿cómo se supone que debemos pronunciar las "th", "j", "ph"?

    How are "th", "j", "ph" pronounced?

    Los términos que ha pasado al castellano desde el calé (o por lo menos que los payos les atribuimos), como gachí, churumbel, payo,.. ¿son específicamente ibéricos o "romaníes"?

    The words "gachí, churumbel, payo...", are romani (international 'gypsy") or Iberian?
  29. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    There are gypsies in Egypt. They're called ghagar غجر but also هنجرانية hungaraneyya (notice that the word sounds like hungarians, maybe it did come from hungarian origin ?) As for nawar, they're not exactly gypsies, but mostly bands of theives. There's a TV serial broadcasted these days, showing that their is a difference between the two groups (gypsies and nawar). Either ways, the two groups are related to stealing, pickpocket (is this word still in use?)...
    As for their language : they speak Arabic, and I heard they have their own language too.
  30. Fernando Senior Member

    Spain, Spanish
    It is funny to say that in Spain they are said to come from Egypt.

    As an example, one of the best known gypsy singer was niknamed "La Faraona" (the female-pharao).

    Most scholars think this "thesis" is just rubbish.
  31. hald Senior Member

    There are signs of a supposed Egyptian origin in french too. In Notre Dame de Paris, Hugo uses the word "égyptien" to refer to gypsies :

    Gypsies are also called "tziganes" in french.

    JESUS MARIA Senior Member


    Fernando, amigo mío:
    La verdad es que me gustaría saberlo a mí también.
    Si puedes leer "EL PAIS-Domingo 30 de Octubre,Suplemento dominical-Reportaje 05", lo "calqué" de allí. No habla de la pronunciación, y a mí también me sorprendieron las dobles vocales.
    Lo siento.
  33. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

  34. MarcB Senior Member

    US English
    Gypsy song:
    Opre Rroma
    Gjelem, gjelem, longone dromensa,
    Maladilem baxtale Rromensa.
    ¿A, Rromale, katar tumen aven,
    E carensa, baxtale dromensa?
    ¡A, Rromale!
    ¡A, Chhavale!
    The rest here
    English pal from Romanes Pral=brother Español=Chavale pl. of Chavo boy. CALÓ from Romanes Kalah from Sanscrit kalah=black Roma also live in China,Arabic countries North and South America.
    Roma Anthem
    Traveling, traveling long, long ways,
    Merry Roma folks I've met.
    Oh, Roma, where might you be from
    With tents so merry on your ways?
    Oh, Roma folk!
    Oh, Roma youth!
    The rest here
  35. Ilmo

    Ilmo Member Emeritus

    Hoy en día la manera correcta de llamarlos es usar el término "romani".
    Antes, creo que hasta los años 1980, se usaba la palabra "mustalainen", que sería traducido literalmente "negrolandés" o algo así. Se decía que el término era despectiva puesto que refería al color de piel un poco más oscuro que el de los "nativos".
  36. nitad54448 New Member

    Hi, There is a frequent error (even in BBC english dictionary) concerning the name Rom (as "gitanes" in french, "tsiganes" in romanian) and Romania as a country. There is nothing to do with the country which has its name from "Romans".
  37. Teal

    Teal New Member

    Swedish, Sweden
    Swedish: A "zigenare", a gypsy, or the "romer" as a people (the rome). We also have the term "tattare", which is very foul wording. I may be speaking out of my buttocks, but in Swedish, it basicly means "he who takes without neccesarily asking".

    Jeesh, these forums dun seem very inquisative about Swedish. ^^
  38. broasca

    broasca New Member

    In Romanian, the right word is rom (sg), romi(pl),but people usually call them tigani (pronounced "tzigani")...however,I know gypsies get offended if you call them "tigani" (they spit on you),and I know the Romanian authorities at one point tried to ban unsuccessfuly the word "Romani/Roma/Romany" because it resembles too much the word "Romanian".
  39. Teal

    Teal New Member

    Swedish, Sweden
    Interesting.. tigani sounds very much alike the Swedish word for beggar, a "tiggare", and the verb for begging (for money etc.) is "tigga". Revelation!
  40. kelebek New Member

    en turco es çingene
  41. surfingnirvana New Member

    English, USA
    Well, Romanes is Indic. It is closest related to Sanskrit. Gypsies come from India and travelled through Pakistan Iran Turkey and Armenia to Central Europe.

    There are many efforts at standardizing Romany, because its speakers have a tendency to blend it with local languages. However, root Romanes words are easy to spot by most Romany. It has been said that certain speakers of different Romany dialects can communicate better than a Quebec dialect of french and a Parisian. Much like Irish it is going a huge revival attempt, although materials are still scarce.

    I am one fourth Roma and my grandfather speaks it, but usually in not so nice manners :). I was thinking of learning the language, but its still no the shelf.
  42. macta123 Senior Member

    In Hindi :

  43. Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! Member

    Czech | Czech Republic
    AFAIK, "Cikáni/Gitanos/Ţigani/Zigeuner/Çingene"/etc. ultimately derive from the Greek term Athiganoi, which was originally the name of a Manichaean sect that practiced divination. There are some snippets here and there on the web. "Gypsies" come from "Egypt".

    There's something about the language here, for instance.
  44. optimistique Senior Member

    In Dutch they are called 'zigeuners' or to indicate them as a kind of people/nation (what's 'volk' in english??) 'de Roma'.
  45. La-Turkish-Chiiqa New Member

    (Home country; Turkey) (Language; Danish, Turkish, English)
    In Danish; Sigøjner
    In Turkish; Çingene
  46. ukuca

    ukuca Senior Member

    Istanbul - Turkey
    Turkish - Turkey
    In turkish, "çingene" (like tzgane [fr]). And we say "Roman" because I guess being a "çingene" is often assumed as an insult or a bad thing.
  47. Abbassupreme

    Abbassupreme Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English, Persian
    I'm pretty sure gypsy is "koli" in Persian. "Gypsies" is "koli-haa"
  48. spakh

    spakh Senior Member

    Anatolian Turkish
    I think that is not true, as 'Çerkez' is a Circassian and it has nothing to do with gypsies. In Turkish "Roman, Romen, çingene, şopar" are used for gypsies. 'şopar' means a gypsy child, but it may be a little bit offensive.
  49. coconutpalm

    coconutpalm Senior Member

    Shanghai, China
    Bohemians are Gypsies, right? Both are transliterated into Chinese.
    Bohemian:波希米亚人bo1 xi1 mi3 ya4 ren2
    Gypsy:吉普赛人ji2 pu3 sai4 ren2, as our Taiwan friend has pointed out.
  50. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russian: цыган. Interestingly, it's one of the few words in Russian which are written with ы after ц.

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