Studying Romani in Manchester

Undergraduate Studies of Romani Linguistics in Manchester

Romani Linguistics (LI 3191) is available as an introductory lecture to undergraduate students with no background in the subject. The main features of the lecture are:

  • Combines topics in grammar, typology, and sociolinguistics
  • Offers flexibility in choice of assessment topic, encourages responsibility and originality
  • Offers an opportunity to meet members of the Romani community, and to reflect on the historical and social position of Romani as a minority language in European society

Introduction to Romani Linguistics : LI3191
Prof Yaron Matras

Credits: 10
Level: 3
Semester: 1


This course unit gives an overview of current issues in the study of the Romani (or "Gypsy") language and its many dialects. It combines methodologies in historical linguistics, descriptive linguistics, language typology, language contact, dialectology, and sociolinguistics.


At the end of the course unit, students will have gained basic familiarity with the structures of Romani, familiarity with current trends and discussions in Romani linguistics, and an opportunity to implement methodology in the aforementioned areas.


The course deals with the Indic origins of Romani, dialect diversity, phonology, selected issues in morphology and syntax, syntactic typology and the impact of language contact, grammatical borrowing, present-day bilingualism and codeswitching, status and codification efforts, and the impact of Romani on secret jargons and mixed languages.

The lectures will focus on both linguistic structures, and on questions of linguistic identity and its representation, and language standardisation and codification. The lecture programme will include a two-part documentary film on the history of the Gypsies, a meeting with English Romanies, and a review and discussion of recent publications and teaching materials in Romani.

Key skills

Planning and executing a project in a group or individually, setting goals and targets, independent research, using feedback to improve performance, selecting strategies and resources to complete a task, word processing skills, use of internet.

Teaching methods

2-hour lecture per week; supervision of assessed coursework in Semester 2.


1) Assigment (25%): A short assignment (3-4 pages) toward the middle of the semester will deal with variation among the dialects of Romani, based on the material presented on the Romani Linguistics Page (under `Romani dialects interactive').

2) Essay (75%): A written essay of 2000-3000 words, to be submitted ca. 2 months after the end of the semester (i.e. toward the middle of Semester 2). Students are encouraged to carry out original research work on a topic of their choice. Possible topics include descriptions of various aspects of grammar (morphology, syntax, phonology, phonetics), based on first-hand material that is available from the Romani Project; sociolinguistic investigations based on interviews with English Romanies or with language policymakers; surveys of the use of Romani on websites or reports on the Romani language in the media; and more. Group projects are also possible and even encouraged.


Pre-requisite course units: LI2031 or LI2042 or LI2152 or LI3282
Co-requisite course units: None Open to all students satisfying the prerequisites

View course textbooks

Undergraduate final year dissertations can be written on any topic in Romani linguistics. It is recommended to take Romani Linguistics if you intend to write a dissertation on Romani. But some topics can be pursued without any specific background in Romani; for example, the Romani influence on English slang (did you know that words like pal and chav are Romani?), or the position of language in the formation of Romani identity (a much discussed topic on the web – check it out!). You can also write on any aspect of the structure of Romani (morphology, typology, phonology); our research project on Romani has a large archive of data, transcriptions and recordings, and databases, to which you can have access.

Looking for a topic?

Choose one of your favourite topics from this year...

  • Language standardisation
  • Typology
  • Grammatical borrowing
  • Fieldwork, etc

...and simply combine it with Romani.