Vlax Romani

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Historical documentation of Vlax Romani spoken in southern Romania – Julieta Rotaru (Gypsy Lore Society)

In Western Europe, Romani language research dates back to 1515, when Johannes von Grafing compiled word lists from Slavic, Hungarian and Romani languages, which were translated into Latin. For Eastern Europe, the first written Romani text dates back to the mid-seventeenth century.

The Romani language spoken in Romania, encompassing the historical provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia, belongs to the Vlax dialects (glottocode: vlax1238). Vlax is now the most widespread dialect group in the world, owing to several waves of migration of Roma from Wallachia and Moldavia. Most Vlax dialects have been described individually in terms of their phonetic, morphological, syntactic, and lexicological aspects, including the dialects spoken in southern Romania.

Historical documentation of the Vlax dialects has been limited to Transylvania, while in the Romanian Principalities, two folk collections have been published – one in 1878 and the other in 2016 – which can be used as descriptive monographs for the historical documentation of the language. Among the rare works are a partial list of words published in 1837, covering the language spoken in the Danubian principalities, and a grammar sketch with a few dialogues published in 1868, which, despite meeting with criticism at the time, is very instructive and includes a one-way Romani-French vocabulary.

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