Exploring ties between Romani culture and the field of translation

Translation Romani has decided to maintain use of the word Romani in all language versions of this website, inclusively and in reference both to the language and people of all the diverse ethnic communities throughout the world, i.e. Roma, Sinti, Manuš, Calé, Romanichal, Kalé, and many others. Please read the important notes from our translators for explanations and other translations currently in use locally, nationally or regionally.

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Translation Romani
Multiple Voices of History

Contemporary perspectives on historical narration clearly reflect the importance of needing to include the voices and stories of those who have been marginalized or silenced by the official, dominant accounts of history. Likewise, translation studies research increasingly emphasizes the fact that the voice of the translator does not simply disappear without a trace in the translations of texts that we read. Choice of words and expressions, stylistic preferences, ideological assumptions and subtle interventions to explicitate, explain and compensate for loss in the transfer of content from one language to another, all contribute to projecting the voice that shadows and gives life to the author in a different tongue. This is just as true for narrations of historical events and historical records. Narrators of history, researchers and translators have all been implicated in recounting much of Romani history to the general public over the years, usually without the participation of Romani people themselves. With literacy and education on the rise, this trend is slowly beginning to change.

There are notable instances of Romani voices who have already proposed substitutions for current terms designating historical events that deal concretely with Romani communities. In reference to early Romani history, for example, linguist Ian Hancock has advocated four terms in Romani to name the historical periods of importance associated with Romani migration, one of the foundational blocks in the creation of the community`s ethnic identity. The act of naming cannot be underestimated. Similar to the manner in which foreign terms have been adopted for use by other languages to refer to culturally-specific events and significant milestones in history, there is no reason to think that the same could not occur for Romani. Thus, when narrating (and translating) Romani history, we could envision adopting the terms O Teljaripe to refer to departure from India, O Nakhipe to indicate the journey from Asia to Europe, O Aresipe to denote arrival into Byzantine Europe, and O Buxljaripe to signify the migrations westward. By way of another example, other events specifically experienced by Romani peoples within their own collective history are: the period of enslavement in Moldavia and Wallachia, the legal abolition of Romani enslavement practice in these principalities in 1855 (1842) and 1856 (1847), and the Romani genocide by the Nazis at the time of the Jewish Holocaust (Shoah, in Hebrew) during World War II. These three periods of time in Romani history have been designated in Romani by Hancock as Rrobija, Desrrobireja, and O Baro Porrajmos. Finally, literary works often complement a people`s historical narrative. Two very well-known Romani authors, Menyhért Lakatos (Hungary) and Matéo Maximoff (France), have written about these collective Romani experiences in their historical novels Füstos Képek (1975) and Le prix de la liberté (1996), respectively.


Hancock, Ian (2002), We are the Romani people. Ame sam e Rromane džene, Hertfordshire: University of Hertfordshire Press. Interface Collection, coordinated with Centre de recherches tsiganes, Paris.

Patrin, "Timeline", retrieved on 4 Sept 2011 at http://www.reocities.com/~patrin/timeline.htm

Translation Romani

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