Who are the Gypsies?


Great Staff Report - I learned a lot.

Joe Haldeman wrote a great near-future science fiction/horror story about the Gypsies called “Armaja Das,” and it gibed with much of what was contained in the report.

Thanks. This was a tough one to write. Thanks to **silenus ** and **Ed Zotti **, and also to Ian Hancock, who took the time to respond to my emails.

That’s really interesting. I thought they were Roma, not Romani; either could be comfused with both Romanians and Romans…

I always thought Gypsies were semi-mythical people from fairy tales, and for the longest time did not know that they really exsisted.

There are variations in usage. In We Are the Romani People, Hancock points out that many groups restrict the use of Rom or Roma to their own subpopulation, but would call all of the ethnically-related groups Romani.

In the interest of Truth, it must be noted that my contribution to the Report totaled about a paragraph and a half. Gfactor did all the work.

Congrats, anyhow, to both of you!

One of the better Staff Reports, certainly. :cool:

An awesome report!

Are there any documentaries that provide a good depiction of contemporary Gypsies/Romani?

The film Montenegro is a good story mostly set in a group of Yugoslavian gypsies, but it’s by no means a documentary. Definitely worth your while though.

This one is pretty good: http://www.americangypsy.com/

And Tony Gatlif’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Gatlif movies, though not documentaries, are supposed to be pretty good depictions. Latcho Drom http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107376/ is mostly music and dance, and seems very authentic.

Hey c’mon man. Tony Orlando needed Dawn and **GFactor ** needed you. :stuck_out_tongue: The important thing is that it was your name up there in lights, even if just for today.

Congrats to you both on an excellent report.

One thing that is not dealt with in the report is the sentimentalization of the Gypsy-as-minstrel in Austria, from Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron) and Zigeunerliebe (Gypsy Love) to Der Zigeunerprimas (hard to translate well – The Gypsy Violin Leader) and the throwaway line from Gräfin Mariza (Countess Maritza), “When they heard I was engaged, my friends all came to congratulate me with champagne and Gypsies!”

Der Zigeunerprimas is especially interesting because the title character is plainly portrayed as a respectable middle-class professional musician.

Did you get a mug?

It’s worth noting that it’s not just eastern Europe that is anti-Gypsy.

In East Anglia you only need suggest that Travellers are on their way to an area to send the local middle-classes into paroxisms of fear and opposition.


Excellent report.

I will say that here in BG, we say “Roma” not “Romani”. (Well, those of us PC enough to care, most people just say “tsigani”.) I have a vague idea that these terms aren’t synonymous…are the Roma a subset of the Romani?

Kinda. Easiest way to think of it is that Romani is an adjective that’s used even by groups that wouldn’t identify as Roma: The Sinti, for example, will acknowledge being Romani but can get annoyed at being referred to as Roma.

By way of analogy, one wouldn’t refer to all Jews as being Ashkenazi but both they and the Shepardic are Jewish.

There’s also a song in Die Fledermaus that plays on this stereotype, although I’m slightly brainfarting right at the moment and despite having played Dr Falke only three years ago I can’t think of the name.

On the other hand, the same article also mentioned that the villagers had got on perfectly well with 30 Gypsy families for decades, so at least some travellers don’t provoke paroxysms of anything.

There’s often a distinction drawn in English minds between “Gypsies” (Romanies, whatever) who are filed under “ancient people with different traditional folkways, keep themselves to themselves, don’t usually cause trouble, may practise a little petty theft but are all right if you don’t tempt them, you may hardly notice them” and other Travellers who are associated with going around in big flashy cars and caravans, violence, rowdiness, burglary, bullying pensioners into drive-tarmacing scams and leaving mounds of rubbish behind them when they go - indeed, even living amid piles of squalor when they’re around (which is something no “Gypsy” - previous usage - would ever do).

This may be a “No True Gypsy” fallacy and both perceptions may be equally incorrect, but they seem to be widely held judging from the East Anglians I personally know.

Kinda like the Brad Pitt character in Snatch?

In Britain and Ireland, Irish travellers are treated negatively with a variety of derogatory terms including tinker, pikey, and knacker. Travellers are stereotypically seen as illiterate, filthy, trashy, and as beggars, thieves and conmen. There’s an interesting film about a young Irish Traveller girl called Pavee Lackeen that’s worth a look. For more information on Irish Travellers check out Pavee Point . There’s an American film about Irish travellers in the US called funnily enough Traveller that I haven’t seen.
Gadje Dilo is a lovely film about a man visiting a Roma community.