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Pogadi Chib
Native toUnited Kingdom, Australia, United States, South Africa
Mixed British RomaniEnglish
Language codes
ISO 639-3rme

Angloromani or Anglo-Romani (literally "English Romani"; also known as Angloromany, Rummaness, or Pogadi Chib) is a mixed language of Indo-European origin involving the presence of Romani vocabulary and syntax in the English used by descendants of Romanichal Travellers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States, and South Africa.

Romanichal used the Romani language from their arrival in the 16th century up until the late 19th century, when it was, for the most part, replaced by English as their everyday and family language. This resulted in the formation of what is known as "Para-Romani" or the presence of Romani language and features in the English used by the Romani. Today, only a small minority of Romanichal are believed to speak the traditional Romani language.[1]

An example of a phrase in Angloromani is: The mush was jalling down the drom with his gry ('The man was walking down the road with his horse')[2]

This differs from the presence of loanwords (such as that used locally in Edinburgh and Northumberland) from the Romani language, such as lollipop (originally a toffee apple), pal (originally Romani phral 'brother'), and chav (originally ćhavo 'boy').[3]

Historical documentation of English Romani

A document from about the seventeenth century titled the Winchester Confessions indicates that British Romani was itself a dialect of the northern branch of Romani sharing a close similarity to Welsh Romani.[4] However, the language in a modern context has changed from the Indic-based vocabulary, morphology, and influences from Greek and other Balkan languages of the seventeenth century to a Para-Romani dialect typical of modern Anglo-Romani with sentence endings influenced by English, while Welsh Romani retains the original grammatical system.

Historically, the variants of Welsh and English Romani constituted the same variant of Romani,[5] share characteristics, and are historically closely related to dialects spoken in France, Germany (Sinti), Scandinavia, Spain, Poland, North Russia and the Baltic states. Such dialects are descended from the first wave of Romani immigrants into western, northern and southern Europe in the late Middle Ages.[6] Few documents survive into modern times, the Winchester Confessions document c.1616 highlights the variant of English Romani and contains a high number of words still used in the modern Northern European Romani dialects and until recently also Welsh Romani;[5] Examples include: balovas (pig meat bacon), lovina (beer, alcohol), ruk (tree), smentena (cream), boba (beans) and folaso (glove), and all such words occur in all western dialects of Romani, with few English loanwords present.[7]

However, the Winchester Confessions document indicates that English grammatical structures were influencing speakers of English Romani (within a London context where the document was sourced) to adopt an (adjective-noun) configuration rather than the (noun-adjective) configuration of other Romani dialects, including modern Welsh Romani. The document suggests a complete separation between Thieves' Cant, and the variant of English Romani of the early seventeenth century.[8] This has particular implications when dating the origin and development of Anglo-Romani and its split from Welsh Romani. The author of one such study[4] believes English Romani gradually lost its distinctive syntax, phonology and morphology while other scholars[9] believe Anglo-Romani developed relatively quickly after the Romanis' arrival in England in the sixteenth century, in a development similar to the Pidgin or Creole languages.[9]

Anglo-Romani was already developing in the seventeenth century although the change from the original English Romani is unclear. The Winchester Confessions document disproves a sudden morphological change,[10] and lends support to a strict linguistic separation between a Canting language and English Romani whose speakers used a separate and distinct Romani language when speaking amongst themselves. A situation which existed one hundred years later as testified by James Poulter 1775: "the English Gypsies spoke a variant of their own language that none other could understand," indicating the language was distinct from the common "Canting tongue" of England. Romani of that time was a language of everyday communication, of practical use, and not a secret language.

The original Romani was used exclusively as a family or clan language, during occasional encounters between various Romani clans. It was not a written language, but more a conversational one, used by families to keep conversations amongst themselves in public places such as markets unintelligible to others. It was not used in any official capacity in schools or administrative matters, and so lacked the vocabulary for these terms. Such terms were simply borrowed from English. However, to keep the language undecipherable to outsiders, the Romani speakers coined new terms that were a combination or variation of the original English terms. For example, a forester is called veshengro, from the Romani word for forest, vesh; a restaurant is a habbinkerr from the words habbin, food, and kerr, house, thus literally "food-house"; and a mayor is a gavmoosh, from the words gav, village, town, and moosh, man, literally "town-man". Gradually, the British Romani began to give up their language in favour of English, though they retained much of the vocabulary, which they now use occasionally in English conversation – as Angloromani.[3]

The origins of the Romani language are in India, and the core of the vocabulary and grammar still resemble modern Indic languages like Hindi, Kashmiri, and Punjabi. Linguists have been investigating the dialects of Romani since the second half of the eighteenth century, and although there are no ancient written records of the language, it has been possible to reconstruct the development of Romani from the medieval languages of India to its present forms as spoken in Europe. Although the language remains similar at its core, it is sometimes quite difficult for Romani people from different regions to understand one another if they have not had any exposure to other dialects before.


Anglo-Romani is a creole language, with the base languages being Romani and English (something referred to as Para-Romani in Romani linguistics).[11]

Some English lexical items that are archaic or only used in idiomatic expressions in Standard English survive in Anglo-Romani, for example moniker and swaddling.

Every region where Angloromani is spoken is characterised by a distinct colloquial English style; this often leads outsiders to believe that the speech of Romanichals is regional English. The distinct rhotic pronunciation of the Southern Angloromani variety also means that many outsiders perceive Southern Romanichal Travellers to be from the West Country because West Country English is also rhotic. Indeed, many Romanichal Travellers from the South of England or the Midlands region have a slightly West Country sounding accent; in fact it is a Southern Romanichal Traveller accent.

Dialectal variation

Among Anglo-Romani speakers, there is variation depending on where groups originally settled before learning English:

The members of these groups consider that not only do their dialects/accents differ, but also that they are of different regional groups. The speakers of Southern Angloromani took the regional identity of Southern Romanichal Travellers and the speakers of Northern Angloromani took the regional identity of Northern Romanichal Travellers. At the time of settlement, these divisions were somewhat reflective of geographic location. They did travel, but until travel became modernized, the migrations were relatively local.[12]

Phonology and syntax

Overall, Anglo-Romani consonants reflect the standard British English consonantal system with the exception that the rhotic is trilled [r] and /x/ appears in certain dialects. Anglo-Romani may sometimes be rhotic and in other cases is non-rhotic like English non-rhotic dialects; for example, in Romani terno "young" (passing through the stage tarno) can be rendered as tawno.[13][14]

Romani allowed for two word orders – Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) and Verb-Subject-Object (VSO).

Negation in Anglo-Romani is achieved through the use of the word kek:

"Be" is optionally deleted:

Reduplication is employed for emphasis:


In the sixteenth century, the Romani language was an inflected language, employing two genders, plurality and case marking.

Anglo-Romani is first referenced in 1566–1567.

In the late nineteenth century, Romani personal pronouns became inconsistently marked, according to Leland, who also notes that case distinction began fading overall, and gender marking also disappeared. George Borrow notes that in 1874, some Romani speakers were still employing complete inflection, while some were adopting the English syntax with a Romani lexicon. It seems to be around 1876 that gender distinction was no longer seen; however, the continued use of Romani plural forms was noted, along with English verb conjugation. By 1923, some plural endings were still being used on nouns, but English prepositions were used instead of Romani postpositions. Current usage has lost almost all Romani morphology and instead uses English morphology with Romani lexical items.

Samples of Angloromani

The Anglo-Romani Project, an initiative of the Romani community of Blackburn and the Lancashire Traveller Education Service, has samples of Anglo-Romani conversation as well as documentation, which it has collected with the aim of documenting the Anglo-Romani lexicon in its regional and dialectal variation. Samples of conversation and their meaning can be found on their website.[15] A dictionary of Anglo-Romani words and their etymology can be found on the Romani Project website.[16]

Some common phrases

Kushti divvus Hello (literally 'Good day')
Sashin? How are you?
Mandi adusta kushti I am very well.
Owli, mandi kushti Yes, I'm fine, too.
Tutti rokker Rummaness? Do you speak Romani?
Katar kai tutti jells? Where are you from?
Mandi poshrat I'm half Romani.
Mandi tatchi rummani I'm full Romani.
Adusta salla jan tutti Pleased to meet you.
Dik tutti kullika divvus See you tomorrow.
So tutti's nav? What's your name?
Mandi's nav Maria My name is Maria.
Owli Yes.
Kek No.

Comparison of Angloromani, European Romani, Indic languages and English

Angloromani European Romani English Indic languages Slang English
chav ćhavo child, son, boy (all specifically used for Romani and not non-Romani) bacha (relatively recent Persian borrowing) chav 'a rough youth' (deriving from a derogatory usage of the word chav to refer to a Romani boy)
lollipobbul laliphabai toffee apple (American English candy apple) (or 'red apple') lal seb (seb is a fairly recent Persian borrowing into Indic languages) lollipop
gavver gavengro policeman (or villager) gavāṇḍhī (Punjabi)
jib ćhib language, tongue jībh (Punjabi)

Swadesh list

See also: Swadesh list

No. English Angloromani
1 I me
2 you (singular) tu
3 he of
4 we amen
5 you (plural) tumen
6 they on
7 this ada
8 that oda
9 here ade
10 there ode
11 who ko
12 what so
13 where kaj
14 when kana
15 how sar
16 not na/nane
17 all sa
18 many keci
19 some varesave
20 few cikra
21 other
22 one jek
23 two duj
24 three trin
25 four star
26 five panj
27 big baro/bare
28 long
29 wide
30 thick
31 heavy
32 small cikno
33 short cikno
34 narrow
35 thin
36 woman romni
37 man (adult male) murs
38 man (human being) rom/romni
39 child cave
40 wife
41 husband
42 mother mama
43 father oco
44 animal
45 fish
46 bird chirikle
47 dog
48 louse
49 snake
50 worm
51 tree
52 forest
53 stick
54 fruit
55 seed
56 leaf
57 root
58 bark (of a tree)
59 flower
60 grass
61 rope
62 skin
63 meat mas
64 blood rat
65 bone
66 fat (noun)
67 egg
68 horn
69 tail
70 feather
71 hair shero/bala
72 head shero
73 ear kana
74 eye yaka
75 nose nak
76 mouth muj
77 tooth
78 tongue (organ) cib
79 fingernail
80 foot
81 leg
82 knee
83 hand vasta
84 wing
85 belly
86 guts
87 neck
88 back dumo
89 breast
90 heart
91 liver
92 to drink
93 to eat
94 to bite
95 to suck
96 to spit
97 to vomit
98 to blow
99 to breathe
100 to laugh te asal
101 to see te dikel
102 to hear te sunel
103 to know te dzanel
104 to think te mislinel
105 to smell
106 to fear
107 to sleep te sovel
108 to live te dzivel
109 to die te merel
110 to kill te murdarel
111 to fight te marel
112 to hunt
113 to hit
114 to cut
115 to split
116 to stab
117 to scratch
118 to dig
119 to swim
120 to fly
121 to walk
122 to come te dzal
123 to lie (as in a bed)
124 to sit te besel tele
125 to stand
126 to turn (intransitive)
127 to fall
128 to give te del
129 to hold
130 to squeeze
131 to rub
132 to wash te tovel
133 to wipe
134 to pull
135 to push
136 to throw
137 to tie
138 to sew
139 to count
140 to say te penel
141 to sing te dzijavel
142 to play te bajinel
143 to float
144 to flow
145 to freeze
146 to swell
147 sun
148 moon
149 star
150 water
151 rain
152 river
153 lake
154 sea
155 salt lon
156 stone bar
157 sand
158 dust
159 earth
160 cloud
161 fog
162 sky
163 wind
164 snow
165 ice
166 smoke
167 fire
168 ash
169 to burn
170 road drom
171 mountain
172 red lolo/cerveno
173 green
174 yellow
175 white parno
176 black kalo
177 night raci
178 day dives
179 year besh
180 warm tato
181 cold shil
182 full calo
183 new nevo
184 old puro
185 good laco
186 bad nalaco
187 rotten
188 dirty
189 straight
190 round
191 sharp (as a knife)
192 dull (as a knife)
193 smooth
194 wet panalo
195 dry
196 correct pravo/caco
197 near pase
198 far dur
199 right pravo
200 left levo
201 at
202 in andro/andre
203 with
204 and a
205 if
206 because lebo
207 name lav/nav

See also


  1. ^ "BBC - Voices - Multilingual Nation". Retrieved 2024-05-18.
  2. ^ "School of Arts, Languages and Cultures - The University of Manchester". Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  3. ^ a b "Languages of the UK" (PDF). 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-14.
  4. ^ a b Kenrick, Donald. S. (1971). "The sociolinguistics of the development of British Romani". In Acton, T. A. (ed.). Current changes amongst British Gypsies and their place in international patterns of development: proceedings of the Research and Policy Conference of the National Gypsy Education Council, held at ... Oxford.
  5. ^ a b Sampson, John (1926). The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  6. ^ Bakker (1997). Review of McGowan, "The Winchester Confessions". Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. 5th ser., 7(1): 49-50.
  7. ^ Smart B. C.; Crofton, H. T. (1875). The Dialect of the English Gypsies (2nd ed.). London: Asher & Co.
  8. ^ McGowan, Alan (1996). The Winchester Confessions 1615–1616: depositions of travellers, gypsies, fraudsters and makers of counterfeit documents, including a vocabulary of the Romany language. Romany and Traveller Family History Society. ISBN 9781900660013.
  9. ^ a b Hancock, Ian. F. (1971). Comment on Kenrick, q.v., above.
  10. ^ Bakker, Peter (2002), "An early vocabulary of British Romani (1616): A linguistic analysis", Romani Studies, 5, vol. 12
  11. ^ Romani Sociolinguistics. p. 93.
  12. ^ McWilliams, Krislyn; Nelson, Manuela; Oxley, Meghan. "AngloRomani: The Mixed Language of Romani Peoples" (PDF). Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  13. ^ Hancock, Ian (2010). "George Borrow's Romani". In Karanth, Dileep (ed.). Danger! Educated Gypsy: Selected Essays. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press. p. 173. ISBN 9781902806983.
  14. ^ "Angloromani". Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  15. ^ Samples of Anglo-Romani, Audio files
  16. ^ Dictionary - Angloromani

Further reading