FAQ

FAQ

A: It is free. There are no hidden costs nor additional charges. Shikawa Romanus|Learning Romany is funded by John Roberts Heritage Fund and will always remain free of charge through funding and a trust provided by a direct descendant of John Roberts.
A: We believe our Welsh Roma/Gypsy language is important to our human rights and ethnicity. Because without language, people lose their identity and culture. For example, where the majority of any country can enact laws that too often take away the ethnic rights of minorities to speak their own language. This practice was commonly used for bringing ethnic people to heel. A persecution that is pandemic as it is historic, experienced by Romani people world-wide. Today, although modern thinking has outlawed this practice, casual racism continues.
A: Welsh Kale is the term used by the old Welsh Romani families and scholars in differentiating between Roma tribes such as Gitano (Spain) Romanichal (UK) and others. Kale means black and can also refer to being a Gypsy. So, Kale is seen as a vitsa or tribe, as is Romanichal, which is used by English Romani as the name or term to denote their vitsa – tribe. However, many Welsh and English Romani families are closely related through inter-marriage. Therefore, the use of either term, Kale or Romanichal is usually a matter of personal choice.
A: The Kale are mainly the descendants of the Woods and other families [Boswells, Lees, Lovells etc) who came to Wales in the 17th and 18th centuries. Up to a few years ago they continued to speak heavily inflected Romani, that is with endings changing for tense and case. (Source: Invisible Lives: The Gypsies and Travellers of Britain. Colin Clark, PhD, University of Edinburgh. 2001)
A: Welsh Kale chib - language is different to Romanichal - jib in that word endings are often different, the sounds of words are different, and some words are completely different. Welsh Rom speech is characterized by retaining the older gender endings as in the use of male and female verbs with a syntax, the same as Welsh. This fact is likely due to Rom being more isolated in Wales than their English Romanichal cousins, meaning that Welsh Rom chib - language appears to have remained an older, fuller language.
A: Yes. In Britain, there are four main groups of Gypsies and Travellers. In their own languages they are the Romanichals (English Gypsies), the Kale (Welsh Gypsies), the Nachins (Scottish Travellers) and the Minceir (Irish Travellers). Added to these main groups there are various groups of immigrant Romanies who have come to Britain from different parts of Central and Eastern Europe. As well as a group of nomads rather specific to the UK who have been called by the media New (Age) Travelers. Though, this is a lifestyle choice based on a romantic notion of free spirited Romany life.
(Source: Invisible Lives: The Gypsies and Travellers of Britain. Colin Clark, PhD, University of Edinburgh. 2001)
A: No. New Age Travellers fit the description of 'unemployed refugees' from the city, a population travelling in caravans and buses. And they also include students, as well as financially self-supporting craftspeople, musicians, artists, writers, photographers, builders and mechanics. They come from choice seeking the freedom and the community spirit of the nomadic open road. This adoption of a nomadic existence (rather than being born into it) is what unifies the two groups with many participating in and following closely the free-festival calendar of events. This lifestyle has specific festivals associated with it and its own established routes and venues, and this seems very similar to the lifestyle of how other commercial nomads (such as Romanichals) operate. In many ways, these New Traveller festivals reflect and echo the purposes of the traditional Gypsy horse fairs (such as Stow-on-the-Wold or Appleby) which revolve around economic trade and exchanging news. Thus giving rise to confusion and the [contemptuous] anti-new age traveler sentiments among those of Romany ancestry and heritage. (Invisible Lives: The Gypsies and Travelers of Britain. Colin Clarke, PhD. 2001)
A: No. Shikawa Romanus records the language of everyday life as it is lived that was never written down in books. However, a word of caution. Too many people relying on books should be aware of the Gypsy publishing industry. There’s a prolific market of books written by non-Roma that capitalize on 19th century notions of romanticism of freedom and return to a fantasy of rural innocence as a reaction against the industrial revolution. This catalogue includes, novels, stories, poems, dictionaries, non-fiction, crime fiction, young adult fiction and plays.

For authentic accounts, read books published by the Romany and Traveller Historical Society, which are written from primary sources and include family trees such as; Butlers, Elliotts, Grays, Hearns, Locks, Lees, Lovells, Loveridges, Scamp and more. For more recommendations of books and films, please visit the Romany & Traveller Family History Society.
A: It is often said that the Welsh Romany dialect died out in the 1960s as cited in writings by non-Rom (Gadji). However, this is yet another misconception and in the main can be faulted as it is based on flimsy evidence of Victorian linguists, called Rye’s, such as John Sampson of the Gypsy Lore Society (GLS established in 1889) who focused solely on the Wood and Roberts families (Frances’s family).

However, these Rye’s clearly never properly talked with other old Welsh Rom families, such as the Boswell’s, Lee’s and the Lovell’s (Bob’s family) or they would have realized their mistake in thinking other families had lost the chib - language.

Not until recent times have Rom become aware of this abuse of our culture and language by the Rye’s and the GLS. Recently, Romany scholar, Dr. Thomas Acton has raised questions about the unethical methods these Victorian Rye researchers used when collecting evidence of the chib - language, stating concerns about “scientific racism.” (Dr. Thomas Acton, MA, DPhil (Oxon), OBE). Perhaps this was done, knowing full well that 95% of all Welsh Rom would never read the papers and books by GLS members.

There were certainly other speakers of Welsh Romani chib - language. For example, Bob’s own father never had any real schooling and could neither read nor write. Yet in the 1950s and 1960s his father spoke in the chib – language, teaching it to Bob. None of it was learned from books.

Shikawa Romanus is an attempt to correct and redress this imbalance and misuse of the Welsh Romani language by the Rye’s. Our recordings have preserved and keep alive the authentic chib - language Bob learned from his father.
A: Of course, many are thankful that the Rye’s wrote down our family trees and pedigrees in books published by Liverpool University Press. And yet this publishing enterprise was done without consulting those Romani families who were the subjects of their studies.

However, two tragic results are that local authorities used the Rye’s categories of pure Romany blood lines, developing a racial hierarchy placing ‘pure-blooded’ Gypsies, who were believed to speak the best Romany, at the top; followed by ‘didikais’, half-breeds, or ‘pikies’ – groups with varying proportions of Gypsy blood depending on which source one reads; and ‘mumpers’, who were vagrants with no Romany ancestry, at the bottom.

This hierarchy was used to justify the removal of and taking children into care. Many children went into foster homes and their parents never found them again. As well, traditional stopping places were outlawed with bylaws and Roma/Gypsies were forced into housing, thus assimilated, losing their culture. (Source: History Today – Britain’s Gypsy Travellers: A People on the Outside)
A: Welsh and Romany are two persecuted languages. Grandparents kept it secret, protecting many from the harsh realities of racism, bigotry and worse by not teaching future generations.
A: There are several Roma/Gypsy groups on Facebook. Most are closed and some require proof of Roma/Gypsy ancestry, as the occurrence of imposters is likely. Therefore, group administrators are requesting your Gedmatch reference number to match your results with other’s family trees. These results are then shared within the community, enabling lost family members to be found and reunited. There are many success stories.
A: Yes. Each episode on our learning site has a discussion forum where learners can discuss and exchange information.
A: Yes. Each episode on our learning site has a discussion forum where learners can discuss and exchange information.
A: No. We have integrated the e-book within our web platform because we believe the chib -language must be heard to be learned. Too many books in the marketplace don’t allow for this unique experience and far too many contain misinformation and outright lies, regrettably.
A: Yes. There are twin objectives to preserve John Roberts’s legacy; his Romany language and the Triple Harp. The second phase involves a scholarship awarded to a young player of the Triple Harp in the name of John Roberts. Please check back on the website and read our blog for further information.

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