Vol 1 No 4 Spring/Summer 2001

Learning Domari - Unit 3

Compiled by Dr. Donald Kenrick


Do they speak Domari? (2)

If the clan you are working with does not speak Domari then there is little point in learning Domari! Not all Gypsy-like clans in the Middle East speak Domari. In lesson two we mentioned Sim - the speech of the Helebi of Egypt.

In this lesson we look at some clans called Kara-chi by the local population. The first live in Azerbaijan and the Transcaucasus and call themselves Dom. Some of their vocabulary is of Indian origin. Some words are like Domari e.g., lafti, djivi (woman). Kara-chi say meri benam (my sister), compared with Romani mori phen, and Domari benum.

However, their language is in many ways different from the Domari of this course. For example, the present tense of the verb "to go" runs as follows:

I go geshtum
you go geshtoi
he goes geshtid
we go geshting
you go geshtikha (plural)
they go geshtind

Compare this with the Domari verb (djami, djaki, djari, djani, djasi, djandi) you will see that four of the endings are completely different. You can read about them and find out more about their language in articles in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (First series vol ii and New Series vol. ii) and Sykes in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society (1902 and 1906).

The second Karachi clan lives in and around Tabriz in Iran and you can read more about them in articles by Ouseley in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (First series vol i and New Series vol. ii). Their language may be closer to Domari.

aki eye
ben sister
eg fire
kala black
mangow cow

There are also clans called Kara-chi in Turkish Kurdistan who probably speak Domari! We now turn to Domari itself.

More Domari

Conversational Phrases

How are you? kek Halor*
I am well. ghay shtum or ghay hromi (depending on the dialect)
Welcome (= come sit) ar westi

* kek as the English "cake"; remember that "H" represents the Arabic "whispered" h and "gh" is Arabic ghain. See Unit 1 (Pronunciation)

"A" and "The"

The indefinite article "a" is indicated by adding -k or -ak after the noun. For example, djuri (woman) becomes djuri-k (a woman).

The -k (-ak) replaces the -s or -a used to mark the object of an action. For example, mona (loaf), nandom monas or monak (I brought a loaf); monak-ta (to a loaf).

Only use the indefinite and definite articles for emphasis.

Regarding the definite article, some dialects add e- before the noun. For example, djuri (woman) becomes e-djuri (the woman). Loan words from Arabic may have e- or el- (Arabic) before the noun.


Some words for animals

bakar sheep
dawai camel (also shtirt)
gorwa bull
gorwi cow
Hrez cockerel
kali goat
mashi fish
pishi flies (also mekil)
qar donkey
sap snake
senuta dog
yegr horse (also gory)

Numbers

Here are the numbers for you to count in tens from 20 upwards:

20 wis
30 tirin dez
40 ishtar dez
50 nim sai
60 tirin wis or shesh dez
70 hoft dez
80 shtar wis
90 sai ila dez
100 sai

You should be able to work out the mathematics behind these numbers. The Arabic numbers are also used. The numbers for 11-19, 21-29 and so on come in a later lesson.


Demonstrative Adjectives (this and that)

  Gender/Number: Domari: Example:
this masculine aha aha zaro
  feminine ihi ihi lafti
these plural ehe ehe zare, laftie
 
that, those   ahak ahak zaro, lafti, zare, laftie

You may also hear ahuk for things further away (as Spanish aquel).


More about the Present Tense

Revise the present tense from lesson 1.

When there are object pronouns these are put before the final -i. For example, demi (I give) becomes dem-r-i (I give you).


Negative Present Tense

Compare the positive and negative forms of the verb.

Positive

Negative

nan-ami in-nan-ame?
nan-eki in-nan-aye?
nan-ari in-nan-nare?
nan-ani in-nan-ane?
nan-asi in-nan-ase?
nan-andi in-nan-ande?

in-jame? zbur (I do not know. Meaning, I do not understand your language)

The ? is a glottal stop (not a question mark) and must be put in because the in- prefix is often omitted and the glottal stop will be the main indication that the verb is negative (for example, naname? - I do not carry). There may also be a backward jerk of the head.

Future Tense

The future is sometimes marked with a -y- inserted. For example, Nan-y-ami (I will carry).


Imperfect, Continuous past

The -i ending of the present is changed to -a to make the imperfect tense. For example, Nanami (I carry) becomes Nanama (I used to carry).


Subjunctive

The final vowel of the present is dropped. For example, Nanami (I carry) becomes Nanam (that I might carry). Note the use of the four forms: nanami, nanama, naname? and nanam. Do not try and use the subjunctive yourself until its use is explained in a later lesson but make a note of any phrases using it that you hear.


More about the Noun

In Lesson 2 we looked at the object (accusative) forms and adding a further ending -ma for the locative form. You will recall the form Domariyas-ma meaning "in the Domari language."

The next ending to study is -ta meaning "to" (Dative). For example, garom kam-as-ta (I went to work). It is not used for giving something to somebody, the accusative is used for that.


Domari Stories

We would draw your attention to two stories in Domari with translation, published in a recent issue of Romani Studies (the new name of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society Series 5 volume 10 number 1, June 2000). You will be able to work out how some of the sentences are formed from the grammar in this course so far. I would suggest you read them aloud to yourself (or better still with a Dom friend) to get the feel of the language. The stories - collected by Yaron Matras - are of interest even apart from being learning material for you. If you or your library wish to subscribe to the Society or the journal write to the Treasurer, Gypsy Lore Society, 5607 Greenleaf Road, Cheverley MD 20785 USA.

One exercise you might do is seek out from the stories and write out forms of the words for "horse" and "sheep." There are two words occurring for "sheep." Also look at verb endings. Some of the endings have been explained already and most of the rest will be, as this course progresses. There is also a story in Dr. Matras' article in the Journal of Mediterranean Studies (see lesson 2 for details of this). The following tale is based on one of Macalister's stories.

Beware of the Snake

Garen ama u baiom ta-nanan kusht. Ama shtaldom kuzi-ak u baiom shtaldi kusht. Kuriama xlaurdi baiom kusht-as min siriski. Kanidrom kusht-as-ma illi baiom shtaldos-sa. Mindjis sapi tillek dirgek. Shtirdom mardom-is.

Words which have not appeared in this or previous lessons.

ta to (in order to)
kusht wood
shtald- picked up
xlaurd- lowered
kuzi branch
min from
kanidrom = dakardom (I saw)
illi which
mindj-is in it
shtird- arose
mard- killed
sapi tillek dirgek a big long snake

The endings are explained in a later lesson.


A Common Story

garen uhu de-ta. are Kajje, ni-mandend-man xlaulan minden Haleman, garen uyarta u wesren pardom monas uyar-ma u mindom kuri-a-ta.

Vocabulary and Notes:

de village
Kajje non-Dom, Gorgios
mand- allow
xlaul- to lower = to pitch a tent
xlaurd- lowered, past tense (see the previous tale)
mindom set off
Haleman ourselves
uyar town, market
wesr- sat, remained
pard- bought, took
par- take, but if it is necessary to distinguish buying from taking add 'imlen (' is the Arabic ayn)
parda boiom snotak 'imlen my father bought a dog
 
Take care to distinguish Hal (self) from xal (maternal uncle). "H" = whispered h; "x" = the sound in Scottish loch.

If the clan you are working with does not speak Domari then there is little point in learning Domari! Not all Gypsy-like clans in the Middle East speak Domari. In lesson two we mentioned Sim - the speech of the Helebi of Egypt.

In this lesson we look at some clans called Kara-chi by the local population. The first live in Azerbaijan and the Transcaucasus and call themselves Dom. Some of their vocabulary is of Indian origin. Some words are like Domari e.g., lafti, djivi (woman). Kara-chi say meri benam (my sister), compared with Romani mori phen, and Domari benum.

However, their language is in many ways different from the Domari of this course. For example, the present tense of the verb "to go" runs as follows:

I go geshtum
you go geshtoi
he goes geshtid
we go geshting
you go geshtikha (plural)
they go geshtind

Compare this with the Domari verb (djami, djaki, djari, djani, djasi, djandi) you will see that four of the endings are completely different. You can read about them and find out more about their language in articles in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (First series vol ii and New Series vol. ii) and Sykes in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society (1902 and 1906).

The second Karachi clan lives in and around Tabriz in Iran and you can read more about them in articles by Ouseley in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society (First series vol i and New Series vol. ii). Their language may be closer to Domari.

aki eye
ben sister
eg fire
kala black
mangow cow

There are also clans called Kara-chi in Turkish Kurdistan who probably speak Domari! We now turn to Domari itself.

More Domari

Conversational Phrases

How are you? kek Halor*
I am well. ghay shtum or ghay hromi (depending on the dialect)
Welcome (= come sit) ar westi

* kek as the English "cake"; remember that "H" represents the Arabic "whispered" h and "gh" is Arabic ghain. See Unit 1 (Pronunciation)

"A" and "The"

The indefinite article "a" is indicated by adding -k or -ak after the noun. For example, djuri (woman) becomes djuri-k (a woman).

The -k (-ak) replaces the -s or -a used to mark the object of an action. For example, mona (loaf), nandom monas or monak (I brought a loaf); monak-ta (to a loaf).

Only use the indefinite and definite articles for emphasis.

Regarding the definite article, some dialects add e- before the noun. For example, djuri (woman) becomes e-djuri (the woman). Loan words from Arabic may have e- or el- (Arabic) before the noun.


Some words for animals

bakar sheep
dawai camel (also shtirt)
gorwa bull
gorwi cow
Hrez cockerel
kali goat
mashi fish
pishi flies (also mekil)
qar donkey
sap snake
senuta dog
yegr horse (also gory)

Numbers

Here are the numbers for you to count in tens from 20 upwards:

20 wis
30 tirin dez
40 ishtar dez
50 nim sai
60 tirin wis or shesh dez
70 hoft dez
80 shtar wis
90 sai ila dez
100 sai

You should be able to work out the mathematics behind these numbers. The Arabic numbers are also used. The numbers for 11-19, 21-29 and so on come in a later lesson.


Demonstrative Adjectives (this and that)

  Gender/Number: Domari: Example:
this masculine aha aha zaro
  feminine ihi ihi lafti
these plural ehe ehe zare, laftie
 
that, those   ahak ahak zaro, lafti, zare, laftie

You may also hear ahuk for things further away (as Spanish aquel).


More about the Present Tense

Revise the present tense from lesson 1.

When there are object pronouns these are put before the final -i. For example, demi (I give) becomes dem-r-i (I give you).


Negative Present Tense

Compare the positive and negative forms of the verb.

Positive

Negative

nan-ami in-nan-ame?
nan-eki in-nan-aye?
nan-ari in-nan-nare?
nan-ani in-nan-ane?
nan-asi in-nan-ase?
nan-andi in-nan-ande?

in-jame? zbur (I do not know. Meaning, I do not understand your language)

The ? is a glottal stop (not a question mark) and must be put in because the in- prefix is often omitted and the glottal stop will be the main indication that the verb is negative (for example, naname? - I do not carry). There may also be a backward jerk of the head.

Future Tense

The future is sometimes marked with a -y- inserted. For example, Nan-y-ami (I will carry).


Imperfect, Continuous past

The -i ending of the present is changed to -a to make the imperfect tense. For example, Nanami (I carry) becomes Nanama (I used to carry).


Subjunctive

The final vowel of the present is dropped. For example, Nanami (I carry) becomes Nanam (that I might carry). Note the use of the four forms: nanami, nanama, naname? and nanam. Do not try and use the subjunctive yourself until its use is explained in a later lesson but make a note of any phrases using it that you hear.


More about the Noun

In Lesson 2 we looked at the object (accusative) forms and adding a further ending -ma for the locative form. You will recall the form Domariyas-ma meaning "in the Domari language."

The next ending to study is -ta meaning "to" (Dative). For example, garom kam-as-ta (I went to work). It is not used for giving something to somebody, the accusative is used for that.


Domari Stories

We would draw your attention to two stories in Domari with translation, published in a recent issue of Romani Studies (the new name of the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society Series 5 volume 10 number 1, June 2000). You will be able to work out how some of the sentences are formed from the grammar in this course so far. I would suggest you read them aloud to yourself (or better still with a Dom friend) to get the feel of the language. The stories - collected by Yaron Matras - are of interest even apart from being learning material for you. If you or your library wish to subscribe to the Society or the journal write to the Treasurer, Gypsy Lore Society, 5607 Greenleaf Road, Cheverley MD 20785 USA.

One exercise you might do is seek out from the stories and write out forms of the words for "horse" and "sheep." There are two words occurring for "sheep." Also look at verb endings. Some of the endings have been explained already and most of the rest will be, as this course progresses. There is also a story in Dr. Matras' article in the Journal of Mediterranean Studies (see lesson 2 for details of this). The following tale is based on one of Macalister's stories.

Beware of the Snake

Garen ama u baiom ta-nanan kusht. Ama shtaldom kuzi-ak u baiom shtaldi kusht. Kuriama xlaurdi baiom kusht-as min siriski. Kanidrom kusht-as-ma illi baiom shtaldos-sa. Mindjis sapi tillek dirgek. Shtirdom mardom-is.

Words which have not appeared in this or previous lessons.

ta to (in order to)
kusht wood
shtald- picked up
xlaurd- lowered
kuzi branch
min from
kanidrom = dakardom (I saw)
illi which
mindj-is in it
shtird- arose
mard- killed
sapi tillek dirgek a big long snake

The endings are explained in a later lesson.


A Common Story

garen uhu de-ta. are Kajje, ni-mandend-man xlaulan minden Haleman, garen uyarta u wesren pardom monas uyar-ma u mindom kuri-a-ta.

Vocabulary and Notes:

de village
Kajje non-Dom, Gorgios
mand- allow
xlaul- to lower = to pitch a tent
xlaurd- lowered, past tense (see the previous tale)
mindom set off
Haleman ourselves
uyar town, market
wesr- sat, remained
pard- bought, took
par- take, but if it is necessary to distinguish buying from taking add 'imlen (' is the Arabic ayn)
parda boiom snotak 'imlen my father bought a dog
 
Take care to distinguish Hal (self) from xal (maternal uncle). "H" = whispered h; "x" = the sound in Scottish loch.

Let us hear from you!
Send your review/comments regarding this article by clicking to the left.