The Roma People
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hroughout history human culture has proven itself humans greatest evolutionary adaptation however it has proven costly for many. Some cultures have thrived and died off and others have suffered and survived. The Roma people exemplify the latter of the previous sentence. They have quite a diverse geographical and cultural history ranging from India to North America. They have shown themselves, their culture, to be quite adaptive. They have endured many hardships from extreme poverty to slavery and other social atrocities (Trumpener, 1992). However, regardless of these conditions forced upon their culture they have come to thrive with primary groups developing and expanding in the United States, Latin America, Middle East, Southern and Eastern Europe, and Western Asia. It is the intended purpose of the essay to delineate in an ethnographic tone the culture and history of the Roma people (Fontenot, 1999).
Who Are the Roma?
History of the name Roma:
Over time the Roma have like many other cultures incurred ignorant name attachments such as “gypsies” bringing with it in many cases deleterious social judgments. Even though the name Gypsy is offensive to the Roma people it is still considered a proper term. The Roma or Romani have many proper and tribal or traditional names. In the proper sense they have been given the names Gypsies or Gipsies, Tsigani, Tzigane, Cigano, and Zigeuner. However, traditionally they have referred to themselves as Rom or Rrom (singular), Roma or Rroma (plural), Romani or Rromani (plural), and Romaniya (plural) (Fontenot, 1999). In legal issues they use their traditional names only (Charnock, 1966). For the interested, turn to page 16 to see the Roma flag (Figure 3) and its description.
Most Roma are bilingual, speaking the language of the country in which they live as well as some branch of the Roma language. The Roma or namely the nature of their culture is adaptive. Which particular region they occupy often dictates the language they speak. It is part of the reason why they are successful as a group (Hamlin, 1863). However, most speak Romani, which is an Indo-Aryan language of the subcontinent of India. Because the Roma are wide spread it is difficult to track all their language particularities that they assimilate in each region they encounter. Each regional dialect of Romani would carry with it nuances of the language they are immersing themselves into. Tracking the history of the Romani language is difficult as there is no current or existing living language to compare it to (Charnock, 1966). However, connections have been made to Hindi, Punjabi, and Dardic languages; however the Romani versions have dialectic changes