'Its a global language of Indian origin'

A simple description of Romany language is that; it’s a global language of Indian origin with millions of speakers.

A complicated version is that; it’s fragmented over the centuries into dozens of dialects and each dialect is fragmented into regional versions and each regional dialect further fragments into familylects or idiolects. It’s a very diverse system of languages, all coming under the banner of ‘Romany’.

Damian Le Bas

Three women having a conversation outside and from within a trailer
Marya at Bedelands 2013
Great great grandfather c1900
Great great grandfather c1900
What do Gypsies got? Only what they carry inside them, or what they got in their heads. They can’t say, ‘Oh that’s a Gypsy town we’ll all go back there.’

They’ve only got what they’ve got and the memories from when people tell them, old people tell them things what used to happen from years ago, how they used to get by. I’ve been told lots of stories, you know, and you think about them things sometimes, how they actually got by and suffered.

But it’s only the culture; we have got a culture which is only known to the Gypsies and Romanies.


My Uncle Georgie used to come and stay with me in the house and one of the other travelling men from up the road, Jim. 

He’d come down and they’d spend the day telling each other stories. Grand tales and you can spend all day listening to them, really, really interesting. I used to love it.


Picture of children together in the 1900s
Mary's Aunts and Uncles early 20th Century

Audio Clips

Marya talks about the importance of passing on the Romany Language to your children

George talks about language being an important aspect of Romany heritage

Damian speaks some Romany

Damian speaks about getting the Romany language official recognition

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