Romani is an Indo-Aryan minority language spoken, in a great number of highly divergent varieties, by Roms and related groups (‘Gypsies’) all over Europe and beyond. Central Romani is one of the major dialect groups within Romani (e.g. Boretzky 1999, Boretzky & Igla 2004, Matras 2002, 2005).
Central Romani has been traditionally spoken in East Central Europe, viz. in the area of present-day Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, and in the adjacent parts of Austria (Burgenland), Slovenia (Prekmurje), Poland (western Galicia), and Ukraine (Subcarpathia and central Galicia), an area that corresponds to the area of the historical Kingdoms of Bohemia, Hungary, and Galicia. In addition to this contiguous area, Central Romani is also spoken in parts of eastern Ukraine and Russia, due to an early out-migration from East Central Europe of a Romani group now known as Plaščuny.
Central Romani is relatively heterogeneous, due to both divergent internal developments and contact with different dominant languages, to the extent that some of its varieties are not mutually intelligible.
All school-age or older speakers of Romani, including Central Romani, are fluent bilinguals in the dominant language or languages of the area they live in. Nevertheless, there are great differences in the sociolinguistic vitality of the different varieties of Central Romani (Elšík 2003). While in some communities children still learn Romani and may be even monolingual in it, in most communities Romani is seriously endangered and spoken only by the adults or the elders. Many varieties of Central Romani have become extinct due to language shift to dominant languages, which has been taking place in some regions since the 19th century, or due to the extermination of their speakers during World War II.
Department of Linguistics
Charles University, Faculty of Arts
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