- Romani Language Origins
- During the 1700s, a Hungarian pastor named Istvan Vályi, when at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, met some fellow students from west India's Malabar coast. They made a list of more than a thousand Sanskrit words for him, which the pastor took back to Hungary. Comparing them with words Romanies used in his region, he found some similarities. An article about this study was published in Vienna in 1776 and was noticed by the German linguists Heinrich Grellmann and Jakob Rüdi-ger, who each compiled a table of Romani language words and compared these with a number of languages. The latter saw the similarities between Romani and Hindustani (Urdu) and in 1781 first recorded his discovery. A further publication by Rüdiger a year later, demonstrating a scientific comparison between the two languages, aroused more attention. Another student of languages, Christian Büttner, then found similarities between Romani and the Pashto language. Grellmann saw the young man's work and went on to publish in 1783 a book that included a section on the Indian origin of Romani.Meanwhile in England, independently of all this, Jacob Bryant, an amateur coin collector and historian, compared Romani words with a printed vocabulary of Hindustani around 1780. He revealed the similarities between words such as the Romani rup (silver) and the Hindustani rupee, but he also identified Greek words that Gypsies had borrowed on their journey across Europe to England. However, some of his links were unlikely, and more important discoveries were made by William Marsden, who was famous for his work on the Malay language. He made the Romani-Hindustani link in 1783, compiling a paper that was presented to the London Society of Antiquaries on 3 February 1785. The society then published his findings.The news of the relationship between the two languages (Romani and Hindustani) spread across Europe and with it the forgotten truth as to the North Indian origin of Europe's Gypsies. The Russian academician Petr Pallas mentioned this in his collection of comparative dictionaries published in St. Petersburg as early as 1787.
Historical dictionary of the Gypsies . Donald Kenrick.