Balkan Romani

Balkan Romani
(Official language in Romania)
Native to Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Turkey
Ethnicity Romani, Jerlídes (Macedonia, southern Serbia). Muslim.
Native speakers
709,570 (date missing)[1]
  • Arli, Dzambazi, East Bulgarian Romani, Greek Romani, Ironworker Romani, Paspatian, Tinners Romani, Ursári (Erli, Usari)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 rmn
Glottolog balk1252[2]

Balkan Romani is a group of dialects of the Romani language spoken in various Roma groups in the Balkans. This language is at risk with only 709,570 native speakers worldwide.The dialect is spoken by all generations of speakers and the transmission to children is normal. In addition, the dialect is used by all speakers in the private domain (basilectal function) and by the older generation and the female speakers in the semi-public domain (mesolectal function).


Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Intermediate Divisions, Western, Romani, Balkan


The word "Rom" is derived from the Romani language and it means "human being", "someone who belongs to the Roma ethnic group" and "man, husband". Major speakers of Balkan Romani language are mostly Romani. August Friedrich Pott: the first who scientifically examined the Romani language and based on linguistic findings found out that India is the original homeland of the Roma people.


Balkan dialects, also known as Balkan I, are spoken in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Iran, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. This group includes inter alia Arli Romani (Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia), Sepečides-Romani (Greece, Turkey), Ursari Romani (Moldavia, Romania) and Crimean Romani (Ukraine).

Zis dialects, also called Balkan II, are a distinct subdivision within the Balkan group. Bugurdži, Drindari and Kalajdži Romani are spoken in Macedonia, Kosovo and in northern and central Bulgaria.

Elšík uses this classification and dialect examples (geographical information from Matras ):

Geographical distribution

Sub-group Dialect Place
Southern Balkan Prizren Kosovo
Arli Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo
Prilep Macedonia
Kyrymitika Ukraine [3]
Sofia Erli Sofia
Zargari Iran
Romano northeastern Iran
Sepeči northern Greece, Turkey
Rumelian European part of today's Turkey, historically called Rumelia [4]
Northern Balkan Bugurdži Macedonia, Kosovo [5]
Razgrad Drindari northeastern Bulgaria
Pazardžik Kalajdži Bulgaria and immigrants in Macedonia and Kosovo


The sound inventory of Romani does not differ significantly from that of other European languages, most of which belong to the Indo-European family.

The consonant system of Balkan Romani differs in one significant aspect from those of other European languages: it has the aspirated plosives (aspirated stops) characteristic of Indian languages. In the case of Romani, these are the voiceless aspirated plosives /ph, th, kh/, which in the majority of Romani variants, at least at the beginning of a word, have a semantically distinct function.


Romani (Bugurdži, Macedonia)Romani (Arli, Macedonia) English
Lačho [to] saba[h]i.Lačho [o] sabalje.Good morning.
Lačho [to] zi[e]s.Lačho [o] dive.Good day.
Lačhi [ti] rat.Lačhi [i] rat.Good night.
Sar isi to anav?Sar si tiro anav?What's your name?
Mo anav isi Elvis.Mo anav si Elvis.My name is Elvis.
Isinom lošalo kaj avdom tut!Šukar te dikhav tut! Pleased to meet you!
Isinan prandime?Sijan li romnjakoro?Are you married?
Va, me isinom prandime. Va, me sijum romnjakoro. Yes, I'm married.
Na, me isinom biprandime.Na, me sijum biromnjakoro. No, I'm unmarried.
Me isi man raklija.Me si ma raklija. I have a girlfriend.
Number Reading Meaning
1 jekh 1
2 duj 2
3 trin 3
4 štar 4
5 panc 5
6 šov 6
7 eftá 7
8 oxtó 8
9 enjá 9
10 deš 10
11 dešujekh 10 + 1
12 dešuduj 10 + 2
13 dešutrín 10 + 3
14 dešuštár 10 + 4
15 dešupánc 10 + 5
16 dešušóv 10 + 6
17 dešueftá 10 + 7
18 dešuoxtó 10 + 8
19 dešuenjá 10 + 9
20 biš 20
21 biš-te-jekh 20 + 1
22 biš-te-duj 20 + 2
23 biš-te-trin 20 + 3
24 biš-te-štar 20 + 4
25 biš-te-panc 20 + 5


Turkish lexical influence is a defining and extremely important part of the Romani dialect in the Balkans. Most of the words however, originate from Persian origin. Loans from Persian, Armenian, and Byzantine Greek make up the pre-European lexicon. Ultimately, it is hard to trace the definite origin of all the words because the words of Balkan Romani originate from many sources and the sources of those languages creates a complex puzzle .


Turkish grammar plays a large role in Balkan Romani. The use of Turkish conjugations is widely embedded within Balkan Romani and oftentimes, it is difficult to tell the difference between the grammar of the two languages depending on geography. Balkan Romani has compartmentalized grammar originating from Turkish verbal paradigms along with some Greek influence. Much of the morphology of the language has Greece and Turkish origins, which is why the language is viewed by many professionals as a "mixed" language and thus it is hard to see where one language ends and the other begins. All Romani dialects use Greek derived nominal endings, masculine nouns and loan nouns.

Writing Systems

Balkan Romani has traditionally been an oral language, but recently, there is a growing amount of effort to decode and standardize the language.

Balkan Romani written with Cyrillic script.


А а Б б В в Г г Д д Е е Ё ё Ж ж З з И и Й й К к Кх кх
Л л М м Н н О о П п Р р С с Т т У у Ф ф Х х Ц ц Ч ч Ш ш
Ы ы Ь ь Э э Ю ю Я я

Romani Alphabet:

Used in most Romani communities.

A a Ä ä B b C c Ć ć Č č D d E e Ê ê F f G g Ğ ğ H h I i Î î
J j K k K k L l L l M m N n N n O o Ö ö P p Ṗ ṗ Q q R r R r
R r S s S s S s T t T t U u U u V v W w X x Y y Z z Z z Z z



  1. Balkan Romani at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Balkan Romani". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Ventcel’, Tat’jana V. & Lev N. Čerenkov. 1976. “Dialekty cyganskogo jazyka”. Jazyki Azii i Afriki I, 283-332. Moskva: Nauka.
  5. "Romani Dialects". ROMLEX. Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz.

External links

Balkan Romani test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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