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
Unsilencing Persecution and Genocide

The post-World War II era has been witness to a multiplication of terms implemented to designate --morally and legally-- crimes against humanity, mass violence, and a number of actions used to exploit, discriminate and persecute communities of people around the globe. The term "ethnic cleansing" was first used most extensively in modern times during the 1980s, with regard to the violence in former Yugoslavia. Often rooted in policies or actions of mass discrimination against those who are deemed undesirable or not to "belong", ethnic cleansing articulates itself most notably in the deliberate removal of communities on the basis of their ethnicity, race, or religion. Ethnocide is used to refer to policies and actions that exist with intent to destroy the cultural identity of a community. These types of policies and actions ultimately translate into significant waves of migration by those individuals, families and communities needing to flee intimidation, harrassment, violence, rape, torture and killings. In 2010, the UNHCR estimated that approximately 43 million migrants worldwide were refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons and stateless. The term "genocide", coined by Raphael Lemkin in 1943, refers to policies and acts against specific communities with intent to destroy or exterminate. It was officially adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The history of the Porrajmos, or the Romani (Roma and Sinti) genocide, neglected by the general public and most scholars until quite recently, tells how due to their ethnicity, 500,000 to 1,000,000 Romani people were eliminated, including an entire community of dialect speakers known as the Czech Roma. The genocide was documented in most detail first by academic scholars Donald Kenrick and Ian Hancock, and has gradually been acknowledged by others, including the United Nations, various international organizations to prevent genocide, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and academic institutions. In the late 1980s, researcher Gabrielle Trynauer gathered testimonies by survivors and their families, and contributed one of the first comprehensive English-language bibliographies on the Romani genocide. Likewise, in the early 1990s, Paul Polansky compiled testimonials and historical documentation on the Lety concentration camp, an internment camp for Romani that has been the subject of exhibits and a documentary film. Data collection on other camps is still ongoing. Even though largely absent from European educational curricula overall, the Romani genocide is slowly being recognized, encouraged by Romani organizations and by associations and entities such as the Council of Europe and FNASAT in France. The International Romani Day of Remembrance was inaugurated by the Roma National Congress and International Romani Union in 2009. The Romani community was present as official guest of honor for the first time at the official Holocaust Memorial Day in Germany in 2011. Although other terms have been used to refer to the Romani genocide by the Nazis, the words Porrajmos ("devouring") and Samudaripen ("murder of all") are the most common.

Translation studies research has been investigating the multiple ways in which translators and interpreters have traditionally borne witness to and mediated diverse situations of violence, conflict and war. Translators and interpreters not only negotiate linguistic and cultural differences; they themselves also can become veritable sites of conflict, which obliges translators and researchers alike to reflect on positionality, values, emotions and ethics, despite intended goals of neutrality and objectivity. By the same token, on some occasions, particularly in our global times, translators and interpreters may be the only vehicles by which accounts of discrimination, persecution and crimes against humanity are revealed to the international public. As Daoud Hari`s book The Translator demonstrates, the translator or interpreter is sometimes crucial for "getting the story out", and through his or her contribution, creating awareness of a situation, i.e. "translating" it, so that governments, humanitarian organizations and the world at large can understand and mobilize in consequence.


Asséo, Henriette, Idit Bloch & Juliette Jourdan, Mémoires Tsiganes, l'autre génocide, KUIV PRODUCTIONS (produit par Mark Edwards et Marie-Hélène Ranc).

Council of Europe, "Genocide of the Roma--Teaching Roma Genocide", available online in English and in French.

Fédération Nationale des Associations Solidaires d'Action avec les Tsiganes et les Gens du voyage (FNASAT), "Une mémoire française. Les Tsiganes pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, 1939-1946". Available online.

Hancock, Ian, "The Pariah Syndrome. German Treatment of Gypsies in the 20th Century," The Pariah Syndrome available online.

Hancock, Ian, "On the interpretation of a word: Porrajmos as Holocaust", RADOC. Available online.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) website online.

Kenrick, Donald (2009), "Victims of Nazi Persecution (Roma and Sinti)", Speak Up, Speak Out. Online and podcast.

Lukunka, Barbra (2007), "Ethnocide", Online Encyclopedia of Mass violence, modified 2008. Available online.

Marsh, Adrian (2009), "The Mechanics of Marginalisation; the Gypsies and genocide, 1900–2009 (O Baro Parrajmos). The history of Anna Maria “Settela”Steinbach." Available online.

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), "Gypsies (Sinti and Roma) website online.

Naimark, Norman (2007), "Ethnic Cleansing", Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, modified 2009. Available online.

PATRIN, "The Holocaust. O Porrajmos." Available online.

Prevent Genocide International website online. "Genocide of Roma-Sinti" online.

ROMBASE, "'Czech' Roma", University of Graz, Austria. Available online.

Teleki, László, "The Fate of the Roma during the Holocaust: The Untold Story", Discussion Paper Series, The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. Available online.

Tyrnauer, Gabrielle (1989), Gypsies and the Holocaust: A Bibliography and Introductory Essay. Bibliography Series No. 2. Interuniversity Centre for European Studies, Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies. Montreal Canada. Available online.

United Nations General Assembly website online.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) website online.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "Genocide of European Roma (Gypsies), 1939-1945", Holocaust Encyclopedia. Available online.

Wikipedia, "Ethnic Cleansing", "Lety Concentration Camp", "Porajmos", accessed on Oct 2, 2011.

Translation Romani

Random Romani Word Other Romani Word
Sar san? (Kalderash)
Sar san tu?|Sar san?|So ćere(s)h? (Gurbeti)
Sar san?| So si tusa? (Lovari)
Sar san/sijan? (Xoraxane)
 How are you? (EN)  Como você está? (PT)  Comment allez-vous? (FR)  ¿Cómo está?|¿Cómo estás? (ES)  Wie geht es Ihnen? (DE)  Hogy vagy? (HU)  Come sta? (IT)  Nasılsınız? (TR)  Jak se máš? (CS)

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