This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Nuts and Bolts: Kalderash Romani by Cal.

Today we have a terrific guest post about Kalderash Romani, hurray! 

It's been very kindly written for us by Cal. Cal lives in Hertfordshire, England, and is of Romani descent. 

Cal is a pseudonym, because Romani true names are secret. 


Kalderash Romani is spoken by travellers in North America and in Europe. Some of the words used by the North American Roma aren’t used by the European Roma but they will usually understand them, like British people usually know what Americans mean when they talk about their pants.

Romani has eight cases so there are up to eight versions of every noun – plus another eight plural forms. The cases are nominative, accusative, instrumental, ablative, prepositional/locative, genitive and vocative.

All nouns in Romani are masculine or feminine. Usually, male animals take the masculine gender and female animals the feminine. But a fly (makh) is always feminine and a scorpion (yalakráno) is always masculine. If a female scorpion gives birth you would say that ‘he’ gives birth – wo biyanel.

The accusative form of a noun is only different from the nominative with living beings. Living beings include demons (singular bengórra) and cannibal ogres (xarápo) – but not insects (gîndáko).

In Welsh the word ‘da’ means dad. In Romani, da is the accusative form of ‘dey’, which means mum.

The Romani word for a computer mouse is maimúnka, which also means female monkey.

Beng means devil. It used to mean frog.

And for anyone who believes there is no connection between love and money, love means money in Romani.

Word To Use Today: Romani. This word is Romani and comes from the Sanskrit domba which means man from a low caste of musicians. Before that the word came from the Dravidian.


Huge thanks to Cal for this fascinating post. Now I know the Romani for cannibal ogre I really feel my life is complete.

One end of our display of Romany Vardos
Vardos at the Gordon Boswell's Romani Museum, Spalding, Lincolnshire, England.


  1. Maybe insects aren't considered living beings because they've usually got swatted by the time you reach the end of the sentence.

    I'll now publish this with one click of my female monkey. I hope this comment won't shock my da or she might send me to the frog and I won't get any pocket love for a year.

    I love Romani.

    1. It's wonderful, isn't it?

      I'd be very interested to know how the Romani word for frog transmuted itself into devil. I mean, the frogs round here are relatively friendly - and they eat slugs, too. What more could you want?