Genealogy of the Romany nation as viewed by linguists
Since their exodus from India, Romanies have managed to preserve their own language. Romany belongs to the new Indian branch of Indo-European languages. The original grammar structure and oldest layer of vocabulary is close to other present-day new Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, and others. Until as late as the twentieth century, Romany was a non-literary, spoken language. The affinity of Romany to other Indian languages provided a clue for nineteenth-century linguists. A.F. Pott, in his work Zigeuner in Europa und Asien, proved beyond doubt that Romany is a new Indian dialect. He managed to abstract from the vocabulary words of Persian and other European origin. A more detailed analysis of grammatical and lexical structures was provided by F. Miklosich.
- Basic Information on some of Romany Dialects http://www.ethnologue.com/site_search_results.asp?field1=L.NAME!Language+name&Operator1=.LIKE.&value1=Gypsy&connector1=&field2=&Operator2=&value2=&connector2=&field3=&Operator3=&value3=&search=Ethno&Button=Search+Ethnologue
- Romanes-English Online Dictionary http://www-gewi.kfunigraz.ac.at/romlex/
The oldest records of Romany
Romany, being a language so unlike other European languages, has always attracted the attention of linguists. In the sixteenth century, two scholars recorded several words and phrases in Romany: Andrew Borde, an English traveller, in his The Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge (1547) and Vulcanius Bonaventura, a Dutch scholar (1597). Samuel Augustiny ab Hortis also briefly comments upon spoken Romany in Hungary in 1775. These records, together with the analysis of the current spoken language, have contributed to the reconstruction of Romany history.
The development of Romany studies in the twentieth century: written Romany
The first journal of Romany studies, Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (established 1888), paid close and systematic attention to the Romany language. During the twentieth century, which was marked by the considerable emancipation of Romanies, many cultural organizations were founded which have made it their mission to protect Romany cultural heritage. Romany studies have found their way to some of the most distinguished European universities.
All over the world, Romanies speak various Romany dialects. Speakers of different dialects are generally able to understand each other. Some dialects went through essential changes as centuries went by (e.g., the dialects of the British Romanichels or the Spanish Kale), and some disappeared altogether (e.g., Czech Romany). None of these dialects existed in a written form until the twentieth century, and their classification in some areas remains yet unfinished. This is one of the reasons why many Romany writers write in the language of their respective majorities.
Both Romany and non-Romany scholars of the IRU have worked on a universally acceptable form of transcription of Romany.