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Re: Romani names
in reply to a message by molly
I seriously doubt I will remember this all.
My boyfriend is Rom so I'll see what I remember.Romani / Romany names ("gyspy" not Romanian) are often names taken from other cultures where they settle or pass through.
However they often will also have names from their own practices.Commonly, Roma will not tell the "gaje" (non-Rom) their names. Instead, they go by something similar to their real names but more common. For example, my boyfriend goes by Alex.Also, over the years many of them have changed their surnames to something more common as well(much like other cultures did when coming into the US through Ellis Island in the early 1920s.).In addition to their common fake names, they also have names only known to them and their close family. This is an authentic Romany name usually or at least a name that has been used for generations within the Romany community. Many of these names (most of them in fact) are not common to the outside community at all. They are also set up in the style of NAME, son of FATHER'S NAME.
(For example: Lel, son of Hanzi.)They also have a third name that they use with extended family. However, when I asked my boyfriend about this, he shrugged and said it's just more of a tradition these days than an actual practice and that usually the name is not used. Usually, extended family and friends just use nicknames. Nicknames can be related to the person's given name or a nickname based off of a physical appearance just like with most other cultures.Also, it is said that Romany children are given a "secret name" at birth and that their mother whispers it into their ears and it is never spoken again until they reach puberty. No one besides mother and child is allowed to know. However, I'm not sure of the accuracy of this since it seems to conflict with Romani birth rituals (At least those that I know).Here's some names that I've previously submitted to Mike C.
Male:Djordji -Romani form of George.
Ferka -Romani form of Ferkó.
Camlo -From the Romani word “kamlo” meaning “dear, beloved” as well as meaning “mild, gentle.”
Gillie -From the Romani word “gili” meaning “song.” (Variant: Gilly)
Lel -From the Romani word “lel” meaning “to take, receive.” (I‘ve also often seen people claim that it means “He takes,” but I‘m not sure about the accuracy of this or if that‘s just name sites trying to make it sound better.)
Hanzi -Romani form of Hans. (Used in Jan Yoors‘ autobiographical novel “The Gypsies” which was required reading in American high schools for many years.)
Pesha- Romani form of Pasha.
Pal- From the Romani word “phaal” meaning “brother.”
Rye -From the Romani word “rej” or “raj” meaning “gentleman.”
Patrin -From the Romani word “patrin” meaning “leaf.”
Merripen -Either from the Romani word “meriben (also occasionally spelled ‘merapen’)” meaning “death” or the Romani word “miripen” meaning “fashion, manner.”Female:Rawnie -From the Romani word “rani” meaning “lady, dame.”
Malina -From Romani word “mal’ina” meaning “raspberry.”
Tsura -Possibly from the Slovak Romani word “tosara” meaning “morning.”
Shofranka -Romani variant of Jofranka (Though I am under the impression Jofranka is used by them as well.)
Here are some other names coming to mind.
They're names from my boyfriend's family.
I don't have the background info for them (which is why I didn't submit them).male-
Dukker -I'd like to know if this is related to the Romani name Durriken that I've seen online.
Lav -I've been told this was initially Slavic.
Meriko (this may be Mariko, but I don't think so.)
Mercea -taken from the Romanian.
Balliol -taken from the French.female-
Kizzy -this may be a nickname. I know it is also used for boys.
Rilla -taken from the Jews, I believe.
Elena -taken from who knows where, but not originally Romany.
Lela -I think this is not related to the English Lela and is instead a feminine form of Lela (though I could be wrong). It is still pronounced almost like Layla despite the non-connection.
Wish I could help more. I like it when people are interested in the same thing that I am. =)
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This message was edited by the author 9/7/2010, 3:04 AM

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Wow, I wasn't expecting any response to this! Thank you so much for all this info--lots to think about. Offhand, I like Tsura, Balliol, Kizzy (this would be awesome on a boy), and Pesha quite a bit.
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You can probably find more online about it.
I know almost nothing about surnames and to my knowledge they don't have middle name practices.
I don't know any Rom with middle names (though some of the settled American Rom are beginning to use them, Alex says.)If you have anymore questions, I could always ask for you.
Glad you found some things interesting.Also if you want, here are some posts I've made about Romani names in the past.'s others not by me: -I have no idea about the accuracy of this one, but the others are all correct.Hope you find more than you love.
I have a long list of Romany names that I've collected somewhere. I'll be happy to send it to you if I find it.
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