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Vlax Romani language

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Vlax Romani language

Vlax Romani
Native to Bosnia, Romania, Albania, Hungary; scattered in numerous other states
Native speakers
540,000  (1991–2010)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 rmy
Glottolog vlax1238[2]

Vlax Romani is a dialect group of the Romani language. Vlax Romani varieties are spoken mainly in Southeastern Europe by Romani people.[3] Vlax Romani can also be referred to as an independent language[4] or as one dialect of the Romani language. Vlax Romani is the most widely spoken dialect subgroup of the Romani language worldwide. Most Vlax Romani speakers live in Bosnia-Herzegovina (300,000) followed by Romania (241,617), Colombia (4,850)[5] and Albania (60,000).


The language's name is derived from the "Vlachs", a medieval exonym referring to the Romanians, as all the Vlax dialects share an extensive influence from Romanian on vocabulary, phonology and morphology.[6] There have been many waves of migration of Roma out of Romania, some of them being connected to the 19th century abolition of slavery in Romania.[6] This name was coined by British scholar Bernard Gilliat-Smith in his 1915 study on Bulgarian Roma, in which he first divided Roma dialects into Vlax and non-Vlax, based on whether they were influenced by Romanian or not.[6]


Vlax Romani is classified in two groups: Vlax I, or Northern Vlax (including Kalderash and Lovari), and Vlax II, or Southern Vlax.[3]

Elšík[7] uses this classification and dialect examples (geographical information from Matras [8]):

Sub-group Dialect Place
Ukrainian Vlax Ukraine
Northern Vlax Hungarian Lovari Hungary
Slovak Bougešti Slovakia
Austrian Lovari Austria
Polish Lovari Poland
Norwegian Lovari Norway
Cerhari Hungary
Serbian Kalderaš Serbia
Italian Kalderaš Italy
Russian Kalderaš Russia
Taikon Kalderaš Sweden[9]
American Vlax USA
Southern Vlax Vallachian Romania
Ihtiman Bulgaria (Ihtiman = name of a city)
Gurbet Serbia and Bosnia
Korça Albania (Korça = name of a city)
Italian Xoraxane Italy (Xoraxane means "muslims" in the dialect)
Ajia Varvara Greece (Ajia Varvara = name of a suburb of Athens)

Writing systems

Vlax Romani is written using the Romani orthography, which is a Latin alphabet with several additional characters. In the area of the former Soviet Union it is also written in Cyrillic.

Both "Vlax" and "Romani" terms in reference to Gypsies are modern inventions that create the impression that Gypsies are somehow related to Romanians (or Vlachs/Blachs). In reality, the term Vlach/Blach is attested in Byzantine documents as early as the 7th century A.D. in reference to proto-Romanians, and has no connection to Gypsies, who arrived in Europe around 10th century AD from India. The Gypsy language has Indian origins and is not in any way related to Romanian, Macedonian or any other South East European languages. It is however possible that Gypsies borrowed words from the local European populations in areas where they settled.


  1. ^ Vlax Romani at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Vlax Romani". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b Norbert Boretzky and Birgit Igla. Kommentierter Dialektatlas des Romani. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag 2004. Teil 1: Vergleich der Dialekte.
  4. ^ Ethnologue report
  5. ^ The Ethnologue report; Ethnologue page on Colombia
  6. ^ a b c Yaron Matras (2002). Romani: A Linguistic Introduction.  
  7. ^ Elšík, Viktor (1999). "Dialect variation in Romani personal pronouns" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Matras, Yaron (2002). Romani: A Linguistic Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-02330-0
  9. ^ Hansen, Björn; de Haan, Ferdinand (2009). Modals in the Languages of Europe. Walter de Gruyter: p. 307 ISBN 978-3-11-021920-3.

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