Romanichal – The Origin of the Word

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The word Romanichal, or Romanichel in the French-speaking areas, has the “experts” in a quandary again and again. They claim the word “chal” to be from this or that, even as far as suggesting it has something to do with the ancient Chaldea, but they just come nowhere near the truth.

Especially as the truth is so much simpler. All one has to understand is how languages are perceived by those that do not know the way of their pronunciation.

The truth, as I said, to the origin of the word Romani Chal, now written Romanichal, is so much simpler than the experts try to think and make out.

It all originates from a misunderstanding and then a misspelling of what the People originally said.

They did not call themselves Romani Chal, Romanichal – nay – but Romane Chave or Romano Chav for a single male.

As the word “Chav” for “chavo” – boy – is pronounced by the Sinti groups as “chau”, written in the German writing of the Sinti Chib often as “Tschau”, but sounding like “chow”. Thus a misunderstanding occurred and outsiders began calling them Romani Chal, thus “chal” was born, for the untrained ear of the outsiders did now here an “au” ending but a “l” ending.

And yes, it is as simple as that.

Romane Chave was once the collective name for most of the Eastern Sinti, such as nowadays are called Bergtike, Veshtike, Feldtike, and, Fortike, and all which are Sinti, though referred to as Rom Polska – as opposed to Polska Roma.

The Gypsyologists all, whether Gypsy or Gadje, just claim, when suggestions of origin, though like Chaldea rather outlandish, that the word “chal” has an Indian origin. This shows how little they actually know and how little understanding of the language they actually have.

While I no longer speak much of the Chib and many of them are quite fluent in a bookish version of Kalderash Romanes, which would not be my dialect anyway and one that I would never even consider learning, as I am of the Sinti and not of the Kalderash Roma, they have no true understanding, it would appear, of the sounds of the language, especially amongst some groups.

Thus, the origin of the word is that simple as I have outlined and is but a misunderstanding and thus a misspelling of the word “Chavo” or “Chav”.

Mystery solved!

© 2010