Romani recognised as an expanding European language

Romani dialects are now taught across Europe.

Research into the Romani language and its dialects has helped develop the first ever online multi-dialect dictionary. We have also influenced policy in Europe; most significantly, governments now monitor their promotion of Romani through the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Roma are among the most vulnerable and marginalised populations in Europe: until recently, their language has been disregarded. Our research has helped individuals and authorities to learn about Romani language and cultural heritage.

Photograph of Romani caravans with caption 70,000 annual users of Romlex
There are 70,000 annual users of Romlex, a novel online dictionary.

Key tools and applications:

  • An educational DVD has been downloaded 40,000 times and sent to over 8,000 educational outlets
  • An online multi-dialect dictionary called Romlex has 70,000 users annually
  • A new linguistics website informs about the language and has 25,000 annual visitors from more than 40 countries
  • A European network of research assistants of Romani background has been set up

Several organisations in Europe are also acting on our research-led policy recommendations:

  • The Expert Committee for the European Charter on Minority or Regional Languages now encourage recognition of Romani and supports the documentation of Romani dialects
  • The Council of Europe’s Language Policy Division now supports teaching and learning in Romani through the European Curriculum Framework which serve as the basis for the development and delivery of Romani language programmes in 10 different countries
  • The European Union has sponsored two projects to design educational materials to teach Romani
  • The UK’s Ethnic Minority Achievement Unit and the Traveller Education Services have circulated our audio-visual educational tools which encourage Roma to explore the origins, history and structure of their ancestral language

Our research

Our researcher team collaborated with The University of Graz, Austria, and Aarthus University, Denmark, to assess the prevalence and dynamics of the modern Romani language.

The researchers were responsible for:

  • Assessing the public use of written Romani and how new technologies are aiding a ‘bottom-up’ expansion of written Romani in multiple dialects
  • Evaluating data on the structural variation of 150 varieties of Romani from 22 countries
  • Interviewing speakers of 'Angloromani' – a Romani-derived vocabulary amongst English and Welsh Gypsies
  • Assessing lexical variation by analysing Romani dictionaries, native speakers and electronic texts

Lead academics

  • Professor Yaron Matras (at The University of Manchester)
  • Dieter Halwachs (at The University of Graz, Austria)
  • Peter Bakker (at Aarhus University, Denmark)