Rromani language is the most important component of the Rromani identity

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Foto: pt.slideshare.net

Professor Ljatif Demir offered his assessment of the position of the Rromani language today, ever topical issue.

Professor LJATIF DEMIR, PhD, Rromani Studies, Department of Indology and Far East Studies at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Studies in Zagreb

How important is education for the community integration of the Rroma?

The Rroma need to understand that professional knowledge and skills can only be acquired through education and that they are very important both for them personally and for the development of a society. They also need to understand that they do not live in monocultural communities with equal social and cultural characteristics, but in multicultural communities where there are significant differences between members of these communities, therefore the Rroma have to be the educated part of active public. Regarding education, the situation within the Rroma community is difficult and has been worsening day by day. Rroma female literacy rate of mere 24% and the literacy rate of the entire community being 45%, state enough about a very low level of education which prevents them from integrating into society. Education would enable the Rroma to understand their identity, communicate better and more successfully with other people, and to build bridges that would overreach the cultural differences between them and other members of society with whom they must and want to be equal.

What is the influence of migrations on the Rromani language? Consequently,
are there any socio-linguistic facts significant for the understanding of the
current state of affairs?

Migrations have been influencing the Rromani language for centuries, but it has kept its core even after ten centuries.  Řomani čhib is perhaps the most important part of the Rroma identity because it testifies their origin. Now in the 21st century we are trying to identify differences in social, geographic and groups of dialects, dialects and speeches that are part of the Rromani language, but we are also developing the standard language that is being studied in higher education institutions in Europe.

Every language is susceptible to the influence of other languages. From which
languages has the Rromani language adopted most of the loanwords?

Like other peoples, the Rroma borrowed loanwords as well whether due to intralingual or extralingual reasons. Loanwords were required when the Rromani language had no proper words for denomination of certain terms or when the existing word did not fully correspond to the closest Rromani lexemes. The geographic ‘contact’ with other linguistic areas, as well as the political, cultural and economic ties of the Rroma with speakers of other languages represent main reasons for the extralingual loanwords in the Rromani language. Most of the loanwords are from the Slavic languages, Greek, Persian, Armenian and Turkish.

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