Why does Hungarian = Gypsy?

Where does this sterotype come from? I never thought of gypsies as having any roots, personally… COuldn’t they be from any nationality? What’s the SDope?

I don’t believe Hungarian does equal Gypsy. I understand that the Roma (aka Gypsies) were a people who migrated out of northern India into Turkey and thence into Eastern Europe, preserving their language and culture as they went.

Meanwhile, the Hungarians are derived from the Magyars, residents of northwestern Siberia who also migrated west, and went to Finland and Estonia, too, IIRC.

but doubtless a more knowledgeable doper will be able to tell us more.

I am not familiar with a stereotype of Hungarian gypsies. Hungarians are Magyar; the Rom are a different group entirely, and “gypsies” is a derogatory term implying dishonesty and rootlessness.

Where do you hear of “gypsies” being Hungarian?

I think I know where the stereotype that Jinx references may come from, though I’d never heard it. Prior to the great Ottoman invasions of the 1600s, Hungary was an enormously large country, including Slovakia, Transylvania, Croatia, the Banat, and Bosnia in addition to the present lands of Hungary. While most of the Rom were migratory in their lifestyle, the area in which many of them were migrant was largely composed of that greater Hungary and immediately-adjacent nations.

As noted by Dr QtM, however, “Gypsies” were and are in fact a northern Indo-Aryan* ethnic group that moved into Europe, not, in general, any people who engaged in the traveling peddler-and-tinker lifestyle that is the stereotype of the term.

(BTW, I recall that Rom and Romany are not quite the preferred descriptors either, though as noted “gypsy” is considered pejorative – but I don’t remember what the actual preferred use is.)

  • in the original meaning of the term, referencing the Indo-European cultures of the Indian subcontinent, as opposed to the Nazi-and-related abuse of it.

Could it be that some Hungarians tend to be the dark, swarthy types? My grandfather, for instance, was half-Magyar (his father was born in Hungary), and some of his friends and relatives used to tease him about being a gypsy.

I’ve never heard that “Rom” was considered pejorative, and have seen and heard it used by people who are of that culture themselves. However, the preferred spelling may be “Rrom” for the person (and “Rromani” as an adjective). Here is an example:

The artist in question (who now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area) was apparently required to use a pseudonym when performing in his Bulgarian homeland:

This site supports the use of “Rroma”, and refers to the language as Rromanes.

The Magyars originated in the central Ural region, in the area known in the present day as the Republic of Bashkortostan. Their nearest linguistic relatives, the Ob-Ugrian peoples (Khanty and Mansi) moved to northwestern Siberia. The opposite direction from the Magyars, who circa 500 AD moved south to the steppes where they hung around with Turkish tribes before migrating to the westernmost end of the steppes (present-day Hungary) in the 9th century.

Roma musicians are found in many lands, mostly the Balkans, but also in Spain, France, etc. The movie Latcho Drom shows Gypsy music from India to Egypt to Turkey to Romania to Hungary to Czechoslovakia and finally Spain. The famous Django Reinhart learned to play guitar in an itinerant Roma caravan in Belgium.

But for some reason Gypsy music has become most closely associated with Hungary. What most people think of as “Hungarian” music (the violinist who plays next to your table in a Hungarian restaurant, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, Brahms’s Hungarischer Tänze) are all actually Gypsy music, not Magyar. Perhaps this is what the OP was really getting at. The question should have been asked: With Gypsy music widespread in so many lands, why has it become practically identified with Hungarian music?

About a hundred years ago Béla Bartók began traveling rutted dirt roads to remote villages, hauling primitive recording equipment (hand-cranked wax cylinders), to record actual Magyar folk music before it was forgotten.

I think the OP has it backwards. To some people, Gypsy = Hungarian.

Maybe that can be blamed on Green Acres and the Gabor sisters…

I believe this is the crucial point - it’s a nineteenth-century (or possible slightly earlier) stereotype.

It’s not uncommon at football matches over here for players of any Eastern European nationality to be denigrated by the knuckle-draggers in the opposing fans’ section as “gypsies”. I’ve heard that used against Albanian, Bulgarian and Slovak players, so I imagine some morons would stereotype the Hungarians as such too.

Are you saying that home fans never do this? I don’t understand why supporters should only do this when they’re on the road. Sounds bizarre.

Gypsy itself is apparently derived from Egyptian, because of a belief that the Rom came from Egypt; of course, they did not, let alone Hungary. I had a great-grandmother who was a “Gypsy.”

When I was a child in rural West Tennessee, I would often stay with my grandmother who lived out in the country on a dirt road. Sometimes she would make me come inside with the warning, “The gypsies are coming.”

There would be a single unusual looking wagon with a covered top. I don’t remember what the people looked like, but I do remember that they looked different. I just don’t remember how. It could have been their clothes, their coloring, their expressions…this was about 55 years ago. I do remember that they were selling things and that my grandmother wanted me not to go around them. She wasn’t worried about my buying anything; I didn’t have money.

Would these most likely have been “Irish Travelers”? The year would have been about 1948 or 1949. Is there any connection between “Irish Travelers” and the Roma or the Magyar? Are there any activists groups that work on their behalf or on the behalf of their children?

** Jomo Mojo**, the information about Bartok is fascinating! I had no idea.

Romani (or Romany) is fine as an adjective, as is the English plural Romanies - No matter what the group is, or which dialect is spoken, all will refer to themselves as being Romani.

The term that has gained most acceptance is Roma, which is not without problems. On the one hand, it is a decent enough political term. On the other, it’s a bit crap because not all Romanies are Roma. It’s a bit like using Apache to refer to all American Indians, I suppose. Another problem that I’ve noticed is that it’ll sometimes be used in the same broad way as gypsy (with a lowercase g) is - to refer to nomadic groups that are not Roma or Romani (or Gypsy, if you like).

You’re pretty safe referring to Eastern European Romanies as Roma, but in Western Europe it’s not the best term. The Sinti - Romanies from mainly German-speaking countries - get very pissed off when referred to as Roma, which is why when referring to the Holocaust I always say Roma & Sinti.

In the UK, the terms Romanies and Romany are pretty well known. Gypsy has never been popular, but has been tolerated (there’s a couple of worse names to be called). A word that originally gained popularity back in the '50s and '60s is Traveller, but that is apparantly losing favour as people now link the term to Irish Travellers.

Zoe - the is no link between Irish Travellers and the Romani or Magyar peoples. I don’t know for sure which group of people you saw as a child, but I’d be inclined to think (based mainly on the unusual wagon you describe) that they were Romanichals - English Romanies - sometimes referred to in the US as English Travelers.

Based on Romani asylum seekers coming from Eastern Europe, I suspect. It’s not just foreign players who get that treatment, mind. Any player who looks remotely ‘Gypsy’ - shaggy hair seems to be a major qualifying feature - will get the “Gyppo, Gyppo, Gyppo”, “Where’s yer caravan?” treatment.

My grandparents were Magyar and my father actually lived in Hungary, and I think JomoMojo has it about right. Think of the analogy: Cajuns live in Lousiana, therefore Louisianans are Cajun.

BTW, to some Hungarians, Gypsy is still considered to be a terrible slur. My sister once joked about having “wild Gypsy blood” and my father snapped “We are not Gypsies, we are MAGYAR!”

‘Traveller’ fell out of favour more because of the denigratory use of ‘New age traveller’ by the media and in politics through the past decades.

‘Travelling communities’ has grown up as a term for use in official or semi-official contexts, as it covers Gypsies, Irish travellers, and all other similar groups - who all face broadly similar problems with community relations & discrimination, schooling, access to medical care, etc.

I thought Romania was supposed to be ground zero for the Roma. Isn’t that where the self-proclaimed “King of the Gypsies” resides? Cite.

When I traveled through Hungary in the early 90s you’d hear complaints about the Roma supposedly coming in from Romania.

Re: Romany and social services…

I remember reading an article in National Geographic (?) a couple of years ago about the Romany in Spain. The government keeps trying to offer them social services and housing (at least in part to clean up the neighborhoods where they set up shanties), but the Spanish Romany are pretty adamant about not wanting a society-approved job, any government charity, or better housing. Their way is their way, and there are a heck of a lot of them that prefer it to our way.