Indo-Aryan invasion

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at UCLINK.BERKELEY.EDU
Sun Mar 15 04:11:42 UTC 1998

A propos the gypsies:

At 11:54 PM 3/4/98 +0100, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

>>Relevant point. My impression is that gypsy languages borrow to some extent
>>(an expert would have to say how much). In Norway, there is a gypsy dialect
>>called "lovari". This word comes from the Hungarian word "lo", possessive
>>"lova", which means "horse". Lovari is then the language of the
>>horse-traders! Guess where this group of gypsies had been.

In an earlier posting, someone wrote of the Gypsies leaving India in the 6th
century or so.  At the time I hesitated, and then kept quiet, but shouldn't
it have to be the 11th century?
I thought there was general agreement on this.  Am I wrong?
The following is from the Britannica (the author is not mentioned):  

It is likely, from the evidence of comparative linguistics, that Romany
separated from related North Indian languages in about AD 1000. Modern Gypsy
dialects all over the world have been classified (by the Slovenian scholar
Franz von Miklosich) according to their European originals, of which there
are 13: Greek, Romanian, Hungarian, Czecho-Slovak, German, Polish, Russian,
Finnish, Scandinavian, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Welsh, and Spanish. The
dialectal differentiations originated during the Gypsies' stay in the
regions where these languages were spoken; while living in these regions
they accepted many loanwords from the native languages and sometimes
phonetic and even grammatical features.

The vocalic (vowel) and consonantal systems of all Romany dialects are
clearly derived from Sanskrit. Some of the changes correspond to those
undergone by modern Indian languages; others represent a more archaic state
(e.g., the preservation of initial consonant clusters dr-, tr- and medial
st[h], st[h]); and a few are difficult to explain. The vowels of a typical
central European dialect (Cracow-Lovari) are i, e, a, o, u. Indo-Aryan
retroflex consonants have disappeared from the consonantal system, while
Slavic fricative and affricate sounds have been accepted.

Romany possesses a grammatical system analogous to that of the modern North
Indian languages.  The Romany direct case represents the Sanskrit nominative
and accusative, while the oblique is derived from the genitive. Various
postpositions (elements occurring after the noun) can also be added, as in
Hindi or Bengali, for other syntactic purposes. The verbal system has three
persons, two numbers, five tenses (present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect,
and future), and three moods.

It is in its vocabulary that Romany best reflects the wanderings of its
speakers. The main sources (apart from the original Indian stock) are
Iranian (doshman "enemy," from Persian doshman), Armenian, Greek (drom
"way," from  ó  ), Romanian (bolta "shop," from bolta), Hungarian (bino
"sin," from bun), and the Slavic languages (glas "voice," rebniko "pond,"
grob "tomb," dosta "enough," ale "but"). Indo-Aryan words include bokh
"hunger," from Hindi bhukh; bal "hair," from Sanskrit bala; gelo "gone," the
past participle of za "go" (compare Bengali jawa, gælo); and rat "blood,"
from Prakrit ratta.

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann
University of California, Berkeley

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