Czech Romanies rediscovering Romany language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jul 23 12:28:26 UTC 2007

*Czech Romanies rediscovering Romany language - press
**Prague, 21.7.2007, 14:02, ()*

About one-third of young Czech Romanies understand their mother tongue, but
cannot speak it, but the situation has started to change as an increasing
number of them are learning their language for the second time, the daily
Lidove noviny writes today. "There are no statistics, but there are
estimates that about one-third of young Romanies understand, but cannot
speak Romany. However, we are seeing an interest in Romany language through
Romany literature and music," Ivan Vesely, head of the Romany group Dzeno,
told the paper.

Romanies cannot speak Romany due to the bad historical experience from World
War Two, fearing that their real identity would be disclosed, Romany Jan
Berousek told the paper, referring to the war-time experience of his family.
"My father was afraid of being sent to the concentration camp. This is why
he denied his real, Romany identity," Berousek said. "Besides, Romany is not
recognised as a stable and cultivated language," he added. "Historical
development since the 1950s-1960s, when the policy of assimilation was
pursued, is to blame, too," Hana Syslova, a university teacher in Prague,
told the paper.
"Romanies faced problems at school, there was language misunderstanding and
Romanies allowed to be convinced that their language is good for nothing,"
she added. "Lots of Romanies were assimilated and some of them had the
opportunity of gaining the educational background," Michal Miko, who led a
course of the Romany language for the civic group Athinganoi, told the
"As a result, most of them forgot the Romany because they used it neither at
school nor at home," Miko said. Syslova said the Romany language was on the
wane and one could see an increasing influence of the majority, Czech
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