Morphology – Particle

As for verbs, the particles of Romani can only be roughly outlined and presented in the way of excerpts in the context of this overview (1)

Within the category of adverbs, we must differentiate between derived modal adverbs and inherited or borrowed local and temporal adverbs.

Modal adverbs are derived from adjectives through suffigation of {/es/e/} to the stem: bar-e(s), lačh-e(s), tikn-e(s), etc. big, beautiful, small etc.

For local adverbs, there are a. o. pairs with Old-Indo-Aryan locative and ablative suffixes, such as:

angle : anglal ("in front" : "from the front")

maškare : maškaral ("in the middle" : "out of the middle")

tele : telal ("below" : "from below")

upre : upral ("above" : "from above")

These adverbs of place frequently function as prepositions. Hereby, the following definite article is assimilated if neutral form of the prepositions ends in a vowel:

anglo kher ("in front of the house")

maškar i len ("in the middle of the river")

telo bař ("under the stone")

upri bar ("on the fence")

Among the Romani varieties spoken in the Balkans, there is strong variation with regard to inherited adverbs of place (Boretzky/Igla 1994: 383):

kate / kathe / khate; akate, ...; katka / atkha (here, here)

kote / kothe / khote; okote, ...; kotka / kutka / otkha ("there", "there")

Romani retains only a few adverbs of time inherited from Indo-Aryan. The great majority are loans and derivations, which generally exist in a wide spectrum of variety-specific forms:

akanak / akana / akan / kana … [←ai. kṣaṇa-] ("now")

idž / / / … [←ai. hyas] ("yesterday")

tehara / tahara / taha / tasja /… [←gr. ταχιά] ("tomorrow")

čirla (Arlije- and Bug.-R.) [←gr. καιρός ] ("a long time ago")

dumut / dumult / … (Kald.-R.) [rum. demult] ("a long time ago")

mindig (Bgld.-R.) [←ung. mindig] ("always")

artîk (Sep.-R.) [←tk. artık] ("immediately", "now")

araći / erači / irači / arati / … adava rat (yesterday;" this night")

agjes / avdive / avdzis / adi / ... adava dives (today; "this day"

The common particle of negation na appears in all variations of Romani and is of Indian origin:

na ←pk. na ←ai. na vgl. hi. na:/na (not, no)

Of coordinating conjunctions that can be traced back to old Indian, there exist thaj/taj ("and") [←ai. tatha:pi] and vaj ("or") [←ai. Va], the latter of which, however, has been replaced by more recent loans in many varieties:

kalo thaj parno ("black and white")

kalo vaj lolo ("black or red")

As to the subordinating conjunctions, the generally persistent differentiation between indicative kaj (←ai. kasmin) and subjunctive te (←ai. tad), which is also true for the languages of the Balkans, is worth mentioning, as the following sentences demonstrate:

Džanav, kaj aves baxtalo. ("I know that you will be happy.")

Kamav, te aves baxtalo. ("I wish that you will be happy.")

1 For detailed information on grammar refer to the variety-specific descriptions in quotation as well as those listed in "literature". Further "comprised" information on grammatical structures of Romani are found among others in Boretzky/Igla (1994) and Matras (2002). Their origins are thoroughly discussed in Sampson (1926/1968) and also in Matras (2002) which is the most extensive and reliable description of Romani so far.


Boretzky, Norbert / Igla, Birgit (1994) Wörterbuch Romani-Deutsch-Englisch für den südosteuropäischen Raum. Mit einer Grammatik der Dialektvarianten, Wiesbaden.
Matras, Yaron (2002) Romani: a linguistic introduction. New York/Cambridge.
Sampson, John (1926) The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales. Being the Older Form of British Romani Preserved in the Speech of the Clan of Abram Wood, Oxford.
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