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Unique Romani-Slovak and Slovak-Romani dictionary christened in Košice

2012. május 16. | MECEM - Slovakia

Košice 16 May (RPA) –The christening of a Romani-Slovak/Slovak-Romani dictionary took place in Košice (14 May) along with a press conference. The christening took place at the Spots cultural exchange center on Brigádnicka Street.

The publication of the dictionary is an important landmark for the development of the culture of the Roma community, allowing further development and study of the Romani language. The dictionary was prepared and published by the Kesaj Foundation from Košice. Aside from authors Anna Koptová and Martina Koptová, students from the Private Gymnasium on Galakticka Street in Košice also shared a role in preparing the dictionary as did collaborators from foundations dealing with the Romani language. The “godparents” of the dictionary are Jarmila Vaňová, program director of the Roma Media Center (MECEM), and Gabriel Glovacký, a teacher at the Private Gymnasium on Galakticka Street.

As Marcel Courthiade, an internationally recognized linguist, said in his evaluation of the dictionary, the publication in its intent and its range (the Slovak-Romani part contains 17,000 entries) is connected to literature of the dictionary type, which was published in 1991 and 1995 on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia. He was referring to the representative Romani-Czech/Czech-Romani pocket dictionary of authors Hübschmannová, Šebková and Žigová; furthermore, the Slovak-Romani/Romani-Slovak dictionary of authors Berky, Prokop and Stojka and publication of a Romani pocket dictionary which was prepared by Anna Koptová. Thanks to the financial support of the European Commission, the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic and the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic, the dictionary is being issued within the project Restoring the European Dimension of the Romani language and Culture (and its uniqueness lies in the fact that it represents not only the vocabulary of the Romani language used by speakers of Romani in Slovakia and Czech Republic, but in that a significant part of the vocabulary is also the most widely spread Romani dialect used in all of Europe.

The publication consists of two parts. In the first part the dictionary preserves the spelling, morphology and lexical level of the standardized Romani language, which Roma in Slovakia and Czech Republic have agreed upon. The purpose of supporting understanding among the Roma in Europe is confirmed in the second part of the dictionary. This is written with the integrated spelling of international Romani and linguistic rules, which representatives of Roma from individual European states agreed upon at a congress of Roma in Warsaw in 1990. For Roma from Slovakia, but also for others, the possibility is offered of adopting the rules of international Romani in written expression.

Problems in communication among Roma from different countries do not consist of so-called dialect (speech) differences, which are not particularly large, but in the fact that ethnic speakers of Romani have over time neglected a part of the original lexical vocabulary of their own dialect; that is, they were unable to effectively expand it and further develop it in agreement with their own ethnic sentiments and behavior. The renewal of the forgotten lexical corpus of Romani dialects through dictionary literature and other publications focused on the preservation, renewal and the spreading of the Romani language as a whole, as well as its regional dialects, offers a chance not only to the Roma themselves but also to other persons and those interested in supporting international communication through inter-ethnic cooperation, thus contributing to reducing the tension between the Roma and the relevant majority of citizens in individual European countries.

Romani in an international context now has the difficult period of primary standardization behind it; it has its own integrated alphabet; it has the first European dictionary of the Roma language published in 2009 in Budapest with more than 10,000 entries respecting the language diversity and lexical richness of Roma dialects; it has processed and published professional studies dealing with the etymological and phraseological level of the Romani language, as well as popular-instructional texts and other materials with a common grammar. All of this is preparing a path for Romani to enter into the secondary phase of language standardization focused on integration, defining of terms and concepts from the field of modern international terminology and on their integration into the lexical vocabulary of individual Roma dialects and the simplifying of the Romani language.

The christening was arranged by the Roma Media Center (MECEM) and the artistic society GONG in cooperation with Košice 2013, n. o. in the scope of the SPOTs project.

Photo: MECEM

You’ll find more photographs from the christening at www.facebook.com/mecem.sk.

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