Romani people

Romani people
Flag of the Romani people.svg
Romani flag created in 1933 and accepted by the 1971 World Romani Congress
Total population
2–20 million[1][2][3][4]
Regions with significant populations
 United States1,000,000 estimated with Romani ancestry[note 1][6][7]
 Spain650,000–750,000 (1.63%)[9][10][11][12][13]
 Romania619,007[note 2][14][10][15][16]
 Turkey500,000–2,750,000 (3.78%)[10][17][18][19]
 Bulgaria325,343[note 3]–750,000 (10.33%)[22][23]
 Hungary309,632[note 4]–870,000 (8.8%)[24][25]
 Greece300,000[note 5] (2.7%)[26]
 Argentinac. 300,000[27]
 United Kingdom225,000 (0.36%)[28][10][29]
 Russia205,007[note 6]–825,000 (0.58%)[10]
 Serbia147,604[note 7]–600,000 (8.23%)[30][31][10]
 Italy120,000–180,000 (0.3%)[32][10]
 Germany105,000 (0.13%)[10][33]
 Slovakia105,738[note 8]–490,000 (9.02%)[34][35][36]
 Macedonia53,879[note 9]-197,000 (9.56%)[10][38]
 Ukraine47,587[note 10]–260,000 (0.57%)[10][40]
 Portugal40,000–52,000 (0.49%)[10][41]
 Kosovo36,000[note 11] (2%)[10][42]
 Netherlands32,000–40,000 (0.24%)[10]
 Ireland22,435-37,500 (0.84%)[10]
 Poland17,049[note 6]-32,500 (0.09%)[10][43]
 Croatia16,975[note 6]–35,000 (0.79%)[10][44]
 Moldova12,778[note 6]–107,100 (3.01%)[10][46]
 South Africa9,200[47]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina8,864[note 6]–58,000 (1.54%)[10][48]
 Colombiac. 8,000[27]
 Albania8,301[note 12]–115,000 (3.59%)[10][41][49]
 Belarus7,316[note 6]-47,500 (0.5%)[50]
 Latvia7,193[note 6]-12,500 (0.56%)[10]
 Montenegro5,251[note 6]-20,000 (3.7%)[54]
 Czech Republic5,199[note 13]-40,370[note 14] (Romani speakers)–250,000 (1.93%)[55][56]
Romani language, Para-Romani varieties, languages of native regions
Predominantly Christianity[58]
Shaktism tradition of Hinduism[58]
Romani mythology
Related ethnic groups
Dom, Lom, Domba; other Indo-Aryans
Part of Romani people
Flag of the Romani people

The Romani (also spelled Romany i/, ɒ-/), colloquially known as Gypsies or Roma, are an Indo-Aryan, traditionally itinerant ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern Indian subcontinent,[59][60][61] from the Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab regions of modern-day India.[60][61]

Genetic findings appear to confirm that the Romani "came from a single group that left northwestern India about 1,500 years ago."[62] Genetic research published in the European Journal of Human Genetics "revealed that over 70% of males belong to a single lineage that appears unique to the Roma."[63] They are a dispersed people, but their most concentrated populations are located in Europe, especially Central, Eastern and Southern Europe (including Turkey, Spain and Southern France). The Romani originated in northern India and arrived in Mid-West Asia and Europe around 1,000 years ago.[64] They have been associated with another Indo-Aryan group, the Dom people: the two groups have been said to have separated from each other or, at least, to share a similar history.[65] Specifically, the ancestors of both the Romani and the Dom left North India sometime between the 6th and 11th century.[64]

The Romani are widely known among English-speaking people by the exonym Gypsies (or Gipsies), which some people consider pejorative due to its connotations of illegality and irregularity.[66]

Since the 19th century, some Romani have also migrated to the Americas. There are an estimated one million Roma in the United States;[7] and 800,000 in Brazil, most of whose ancestors emigrated in the 19th century from Eastern Europe. Brazil also includes a notable Romani community descended from people deported by the Portuguese Empire during the Portuguese Inquisition.[67] In migrations since the late 19th century, Romani have also moved to other countries in South America and to Canada.[68][page needed]

In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India.[69] The conference ended with a recommendation to the Government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.[70]

The Romani language is divided into several dialects which together have an estimated number of speakers of more than two million.[71] The total number of Romani people is at least twice as high (several times as high according to high estimates). Many Romani are native speakers of the dominant language in their country of residence or of mixed languages combining the dominant language with a dialect of Romani; those varieties are sometimes called Para-Romani.[72]




Rom means man or husband in the Romani language. It has the variants dom and lom, related with the Sanskrit words dam-pati (lord of the house, husband), dama (to subdue), lom (hair), lomaka (hairy), loman, roman (hairy), romaça (man with beard and long hair).[79] Another possible origin is from Sanskrit डोम doma (member of a low caste of travelling musicians and dancers).

Romani usage

In the Romani language, Rom is a masculine noun, meaning 'man of the Roma ethnic group' or 'man, husband', with the plural Roma. The feminine of Rom in the Romani language is Romni. However, in most cases, in other languages Rom is now used for people of both genders.[80]

Romani is the feminine adjective, while Romano is the masculine adjective. Some Romanies use Rom or Roma as an ethnic name, while others (such as the Sinti, or the Romanichal) do not use this term as a self-ascription for the entire ethnic group.[81]

Sometimes, rom and romani are spelled with a double r, i.e., rrom and rromani. In this case rr is used to represent the phoneme /ʀ/ (also written as ř and rh), which in some Romani dialects has remained different from the one written with a single r. The rr spelling is common in certain institutions (such as the INALCO Institute in Paris), or used in certain countries, e.g., Romania, to distinguish from the endonym/homonym for Romanians (sg. român, pl. români).[82]

English usage

A Romani wagon pictured in 2009 in Grandborough Fields in Warwickshire (Grandborough Fields Road is a popular spot for travelling people)

In the English language (according to the Oxford English Dictionary), Rom is a noun (with the plural Roma or Roms) and an adjective, while Romani (Romany) is also a noun (with the plural Romani, the Romani, Romanies or Romanis) and an adjective. Both Rom and Romani have been in use in English since the 19th century as an alternative for Gypsy[citation needed]. Romani was initially spelled Rommany, then Romany, while today the Romani spelling is the most popular spelling. Occasionally, the double r spelling (e.g., Rroma, Rromani) mentioned above is also encountered in English texts.

The term Roma is increasingly encountered,[83][84] as a generic term for the Romani people.[85][86][87]

Because all Romanies use the word Romani as an adjective, the term became a noun for the entire ethnic group.[88] Today, the term Romani is used by some organizations – including the United Nations and the US Library of Congress.[82] However, the Council of Europe and other organizations consider that Roma is the correct term referring to all related groups, regardless of their country of origin, and recommend that Romani be restricted to the language and culture: Romani language, Romani culture.[80]

The standard assumption is that the demonyms of the Romani people, Lom and Dom share the same origin.[89][90]

Other designations

A Romani wagon in Germany in 1935

The English term Gypsy (or Gipsy) originates from the Middle English gypcian, short for Egipcien. The Spanish term Gitano and French Gitan have similar etymologies. They are ultimately derived from the Greek Αιγύπτιοι (Aigyptioi), meaning Egyptian, via Latin. This designation owes its existence to the belief, common in the Middle Ages, that the Romani, or some related group (such as the Middle Eastern Dom people), were itinerant Egyptians.[91][92] According to one narrative they were exiled from Egypt as punishment for allegedly harbouring the infant Jesus.[93] As described in Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the medieval French referred to the Romanies as Egyptiens. The word Gypsy is in such common usage in English that indeed many Romani organizations use it in their own organizational names.

This exonym is sometimes written with capital letter, to show that it designates an ethnic group.[94] However, the word is sometimes considered derogatory because of its negative and stereotypical associations.[86][95][96][97] The Council of Europe consider that 'Gypsy' or equivalent terms, as well as administrative terms such as 'Gens du Voyage' (referring in fact to an ethnic group but not acknowledging ethnic identification) are not in line with European recommendations.[80] In North America, the word Gypsy is most commonly used as a reference to Romani ethnicity, though lifestyle and fashion are at times also referenced by using this word.[98]

Another common designation of the Romani people is Cingane (alt. Tsinganoi, Zigar, Zigeuner), which likely derives from Athinganoi, the name of a Christian sect with whom the Romani (or some related group) became associated in the Middle Ages.[92][99][100][101]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Roma
العربية: غجر
aragonés: Chitans
asturianu: Pueblu xitanu
azərbaycanca: Qaraçılar
تۆرکجه: قاراچیلار
Bân-lâm-gú: Roma-lâng
беларуская: Цыганы
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Цыганы
български: Цигани
Boarisch: Roma
bosanski: Romi
brezhoneg: Romed
català: Gitanos
Чӑвашла: Чикансем
čeština: Romové
Cymraeg: Roma
dansk: Romaer
Deitsch: Zigeiner
Deutsch: Roma
eesti: Mustlased
Ελληνικά: Ρομά
español: Pueblo gitano
Esperanto: Ciganoj
euskara: Ijito
فارسی: کولی
føroyskt: Romafólkið
français: Roms
Gaeilge: Romaigh
Gagauz: Çingenelär
galego: Pobo xitano
한국어: 롬 (민족)
հայերեն: Գնչուներ
हिन्दी: रोमा (लोग)
hrvatski: Romi
Bahasa Indonesia: Orang Rom
íslenska: Rómafólk
italiano: Rom (popolo)
עברית: צוענים
ქართული: ბოშები
қазақша: Сығандар
kurdî: Roman (gel)
Latina: Zingari
latviešu: Čigāni
Lëtzebuergesch: Zigeiner
lietuvių: Čigonai
Limburgs: Roma
magyar: Cigányok
македонски: Роми
മലയാളം: റൊമാനി ജനത
მარგალური: ჩაჩანეფი
مصرى: غجر
مازِرونی: الیات
Mirandés: Ciganos
Nederlands: Roma (volk)
日本語: ロマ
norsk nynorsk: Sigøynarar
occitan: Ròms
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Loʻlilar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਰੋਮਾ (ਲੋਕ)
پنجابی: جپسی لوک
polski: Romowie
português: Ciganos
română: Romi
русиньскый: Циґане
русский: Цыгане
shqip: Romët
sicilianu: Gitani
Simple English: Romani people
سنڌي: جپسي
slovenčina: Rómovia
slovenščina: Romi
کوردی: دۆم
српски / srpski: Роми
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Romi
suomi: Romanit
svenska: Romer
Türkçe: Çingeneler
українська: Роми
اردو: رومینی
Tiếng Việt: Người Di-gan
Võro: Mustlasõq
ייִדיש: ציגיינער
粵語: 羅姆人
Zazaki: Roman (şar)
中文: 罗姆人