Do you have a tambourine?
I was asked that question when I said that I am of Romany/Gypsy ethnicity. I had to tell my questioner that he was using a stereotypical image. Done with humour, which we both laughed off (he later apologized) I was nevertheless taken aback and reminded of all those little Esmeralda’s wearing their Halloween costumes and shaking a tambourine. Nothing at all like the life Esmeralda Lock tragically lived that was certainly not romantic.
One of my writer friends wrote an article titled, “My Roma ethnicity is not a costume.” She does a good job of explaining how insulting it is to be a grown, accomplished and mature women, reduced to a childish caricature of our rich and diverse Romani identity.
So then, words are important. They define and make visible what’s seen and said. But equally vital for Roma in articulating the unseen and unsaid. In the case of the Shikawa Romanus project our chib, our language has been structured and defined by non-Rom by the Ryes of the Gypsy Lore Society. In many cases words were invented and put into our mouths, often structured to sound like the Queen’s English and not at all what we spoke in everyday life.
We reclaim our chib in all of its Old Romanus pronunciation and meaning. And just in the nick of time as it is on UNESCO’s Endangered Languages list.
Please enjoy the language course. Speak it, write it and spread the word.
Parruke Tute, thank you.