Thursday, December 09, 2010

Romania / Roma

"Roma women display signs that read, in Romany and Romanian, 'I am a Roma' in Bucharest, Romania, on Nov. 30, 2010." (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
Romania's Government Moves to Rename the Roma
By Rupert Wolfe Murray, December 8, 2010
"Romania's government has caused outrage among Romany -- or Gypsy -- communities and organizations after it asked Parliament in Bucharest to accept a proposal to change the official name of the Romany from Roma, which means 'man' in the Romany language, to Tigan, which comes from the Greek term for 'untouchable.' The government says the name change is necessary because of the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma -- which refers to the Romany ethnic minority -- and Romania, a nation proud of its historical status as the last colony of the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, the Romanian Academy, whose role is to protect the Romanian culture and language, supports the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Tigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. 'Imagine if a US Congressman proposed to change the name Afro-American back to the insulting term n_____,' said David Mark, director of the Roma Civic Alliance in Bucharest, speaking to TIME at a protest outside the government headquarters last week. 'It would cause a huge scandal and that Congressman would probably have to resign.'
The controversial proposal was put forward by maverick lawmaker Silviu Prigoana, a member of Romania's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who claims he is acting on behalf of several Romany groups from Transylvania that, he says, told him 'they don't like to use the word Roma.' When asked by TIME to provide the names of these groups, Prigoana refused, saying only that they are 'those Gypsy fellows in Transylvania who wear the big hats' -- meaning the Hungarian-speaking Romany groups who go by the collective name of Gabor. Prigoana denies accusations that he's acting on the orders of Romania's President, Traian Basescu, who recently stated on public radio that the introduction of the politically correct term Roma in 1995 -- at the recommendation of Romania's Foreign Ministry -- was 'a big mistake.' The President went on to say, 'Many Europeans are confused by the terms Roma and Romania. They wonder if it is an ethnicity or a nation of 22 million citizens.' The government has never made any attempt to explain the difference between the words to the international community -- probably because Romanians would rather not be associated with the Roma at all -- or to promote Romania as a multiethnic country with a large minority population (there are an estimated 1.5 million Roma and a similar number of Hungarians in the country). According to Romani Criss, a leading Romany organization, the government never consulted with representatives of the Roma minority about the name change -- which could incur the wrath of human-rights organizations, since the right of minorities to choose their own name is enshrined in international law. [...]"


  1. Anonymous7:14 AM

    Romania is 85% ethnic Romanians so she is not a multiethnic country. so why should the country promote itself as such? Furthermore the word "Roma" doesn't exist in Romanian language, it is an invented word proposed by the Council of Europe in 1993 and forced upon Romania.

  2. Regardless of the origins of the word, it is clearly the preferred term of the Roma people, and under international law it is their right to choose their own name -- it cannot be imposed by a government. And to seek to impose a name, the origins of which lie in the term "Untouchable" -- that is really disgraceful. And illegal.

  3. Adam;IBet you would have a different opinion if they would choose to impose for themselves to be called "CANADA"instead of Gypsy or Gitane!...regardless of the origin of the word..."CANADA"if this would clearly become the preferred term of Gypsy or Gitane people and under international law it is their right to choose.Well...guess what...We Romanians have the right to oppose (under national and international law) such PC BULLSHIT!!!Now you know.

  4. From what I can see, you Romanians have taken the name of the ancient Romaion province of Italy. There's still a region there called "Romagna," from which your own country's name derives. See I guess you will have to come up with a new name for yourselves -- or at least stop telling the Roma they can't use theirs.

  5. You need to keep studying since your knowledge seems rather limited.The American"Fast facts&short version"style of education behind your Ph.D.didn"help much either.The Romans used to call their empire(both east and west parts) ROMANIA.It was the British fellow Gibbon who imposed in the Anglo-Saxon world the term Byzantium for ignorant ears,and got away with it.Our name has nothing to do with any Italian province,but with the shared heritage of the original eastern orthodox Christianity and culture.In Constantinople and eastern Roman empire there were two languages spoken by Roman citizens:Greek and Latin(both in their vulgar forms).Since we,Romanians are the only heirs of the vulgar Latin speaking Romans in this area,we had all the right to ask ignorant foreigners to stop calling as Vlachs,Wallachs,etc(funny,since this exonym actually means-Latin speaking people) and call us our proper name,which is Romanians and our country to be called Romania(Tara Romaneasca).Now you...should know!...But as long as your research is limited to Internet sites...who knows? might end up not knowing much!

  6. I'm sorry, Italy clearly had Romaion/Romagna first. You will have to find another name for your country.

  7. Maybe the Gypsies will have to find a proper name for themselves,one which will not confuse people who have no knowledge of European history and geography nor have they any need to acquire it.Their king(yes they have a king) has proposed the name INDIROMA since they originate in India,but it seems certain NGOs with an agenda find it very lucrative to perpetuate an artificially created confusion.On another note,Italy was established as a modern state in 1863 four years AFTER the modern state of Romania which was established in 1859,so even here we have precedence.As far as the name is concern the eastern Roman empire continued to exist and be called Romania up to 1453 when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans.Even they continued to call the empire they took over RIM(in Turkish).I don"t know about how old is the name of the region of Emiglia Romagna and even though I live in Italy I am not aware of the existence of a region named Romaion.I would dare to presume that you are talking about the Greek spelling of Romania(Roman empire). Best of luck in your future studies!


Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ