Romany

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(Obligatory) language mixing: strong warning or new ethnologue codes?

David, Fri, 2015-11-13 06:42
Regarding: 
Other Comments
ISO 639-3: 
rom

It would be very useful if all users of the Romani language pages of the Ethnologue were aware that the existence of a product from country X in a variety of Romani, in no way means that it is usable in country Y, as the majority language has a massive influence upon whether a given product is suitable for speakers of a given variety of Romani. The influence is more than just orthography. loan-words, and loan-derived words, but also includes syntax, expressions and the semantic range of shared lexical items. While negotiation of meaning is possible between speakers who share a strong desire to communicate, such negotiation is not possible with a recording, and presenting someone with a product from a different country may be only slightly more useful than giving an English speaker a google-translated text. Thus, for instance, a product from Slovakian-influenced RMC is of no use amongst (Romanian or Hungarian-influenced) RMC speakers in Romania. Even within Romania, (where there are regions/villages where Hungarian speakers form the majority) a Hungarian-influenced RMC recording might only be 50% understood by speakers of Romanian-influenced RMC. While the Romany core lexicon of e.g. RMC or RMY is only little changed from country to country, (which argues for a single ethnologue code) there is no community where 'pure' RMC is spoken, without influence from some majority language. and so it is perhaps better to speak/write of people speaking RMC-HUN, RMC-RON, RMY-ENG, RMY-FRA, RMY-DEU, etc. However, it seems that this is not understood by many Ethnologue users, and so either a warning to this effect should be put on every language in this family, or perhaps the number of Ethnologue codes for Romani should be significantly increased to account for this issue. I am aware that this could be a political issue, and would not be well accepted by some people. However, increasing the number of codes would also avoid the confusion where alternative names apply to different Romani varieties in different countries.

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Confusing location designations

David, Fri, 2015-11-13 04:20
Regarding: 
Location
ISO 639-3: 
rom

It would be far far better, and less confusing to mark Romany as a macro-language of Europe, or even of the world, than to name it as a language of a particular country. Romani varieties are spoken by minority communities in every inhabited continent of the world, and to say a particular variety is linked to a particular country is at best confusing, and often the data is just wrong, in particular for some of the individual languages. If an analogy would help, the current status-quo is rather like saying that Swiss German is a language of the Netherlands. The main population of RMO: Sinte/Manouche is in Germany(Sinte), and France(Manouche) even if for historical reasons they choose not to self-identify on censuses. But smaller populations are all over the place. It's listed as a language of Serbia, but a designation as a language of Central-Eastern Europe would be more accurate. Vlax Romani is so spread out (Chile to Shanghai) that it'd better to label it as a world language, (or macro-language, since there's such a high influence of the language of wider communication: loanwords, calqued expressions, borrowed syntax, etc).

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