Research Projects

The Anglo-Romani project

What is 'Anglo-Romani'?

'Anglo-Romani' is the term used to denote usage of Romani-derived lexicon within English conversation. Romani was spoken in England until the late nineteenth century; in Wales it survived for about one generation longer. It was then replaced by English as the everyday and family language of British Romanies. But the language did not disappear entirely. Words of Romani origin were kept as a kind of family-language and group-internal code. These words are inserted occasionally into English conversation. The phenomenon is referred to in the linguistic literature on Romani as 'Para-Romani': the selective retention of some Romani-derived vocabulary following the disappearance of Romani as an everyday language of conversation. Anglo-Romani is thus a vocabulary, rather than a ‘language’ in the strict sense. It is used within the framework of English conversation, English sentences, and English grammar and pronunciation, thus:
The mush was jalling down the drom with his gry.
'The man was walking down the road with his horse.'

View and listen to a sample of Angloromani conversation.

Aims of the project

The Anglo-Romani project was launched in January 2005, in conjunction with the Romani community of Blackburn and in cooperation with the Lancashire Traveller Education Service. The aim is to document the Anglo-Romani lexicon in its regional and dialectal variation. The documentation will serve as a basis for the creation of teaching materials, which will be used in schools, by teachers of Romani and Traveller origin, to raise awareness among Romani children toward this aspect of their cultural heritage. The project aims at providing

  • Audio and video documentation of conversations on Romani themes (old lifesyle, customs, and family histories) containing use of Anglo-Romani vocabulary
  • Written documents, recording older uses of Anglo-Romani, in modernised format (electronic text with interactive glossing)
  • Computer games to assist vocabulary acquisition (in cooperation with ROMANI-Projekt Graz)
  • Cards and other visual aids for vocabulary acquisitio

Plans for the project structure

The project will employ a number of teachers of Romani origin, who will also act as community liaison persons. They will be trained in Romani language and language instruction by the Traveller Education Service and the Romani Linguistics Project at the University of Manchester. Fieldwork assistants from within the community and from the university will document use of Anglo-Romani, drawing on contacts with speakers as well as on the University’s archives.

Users / speakers with a knowledge of Anglo-Romani vocabulary who wish to make a contribution to the project, or to learn more about its activities, are welcome to contact the project office on 0161 275 5999, or the project coordinator, Professor Yaron Matras, on 0161 275 3975.

Bibliography of works on Angloromani