Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Romani connection

Another movie we watched recently was “Time of the Gypsies”. This one’s a Yugoslavian movie based on the gypsies or romanis as they are also called. What amazed me was how much some of their words sounded like Hindi. It was hard to identify most of the words within the sentences but every now and then there’d be a distinct one between long enough pauses and the subtitle confirmed the meaning to be the same as my mind expected. For example, their counting went yek, dui, trin, something, pansh…and then their was a time where a girl said something very similar to “aank, muh, naak, sab” and the subtitle read “eyes, mouth, nose, everything”. There were also other words that I no longer remember.

At first, I thought the connection might be through Urdu. But my interest was piqued, so I searched and learned of their connection to the Indian people; relearned actually, since I now remember having discovered this earlier in relation to some genealogy reading I was doing at the time when I participated in the National Geographic Genographic project. Only this time it made more of an impression on me because I just wasn’t expecting a Hindi connection in a Yugoslavian movie. And Romani didn’t sound anything like a Latin derivative which we’ve long known to have connections with Sanskrit.

Here’s an interesting link about the language connection: and another about the genealogical one:


  1. Very interesting. I have known that there is close links between the ‘gypsies’ and the nomadic people in northern india as well. Interesting to read and learn more about it. Have often been curious about the similarities between sanskrit and german as well since i am learning german and sometimes come across words that are close.


  2. yea, German is related to Latin too, right?—so definitely connected to Sanskrit. At least it sounds really close to Engligh.

    Some striking similarities between Hindi and Portuguese that I remember: “mesa” for table, “sabon” for soap, “chave” for key…there were more.

    And then there were more that I think came into Hindi usage from the Portuguese invasions in Goa/Cochin etc. like batata for potato (batata vada), paon for bread (pao bhaji).

    Fascinating stuff, this!


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