South Asia and the Himalayas: 9 countries, over 1.6 billion inhabitants and over 1,000 languages. You can learn 10 of them at Inalco, including Rromani - the only language no longer spoken in India but in the historical diaspora of Europe and the 2 Americas.
J'apprends le rromani à l'Inalco
J'apprends le rromani à l'Inalco © Inalco‎

Discover the language

History of the Rromani migration

The ancestors of the Rromani people left North India (probably the city of Kannauj, not far from Lakhnau, and its immediate surroundings) around the 11th century AD, "taking with them only their language, Rromani". This language, like the other modern languages of northern India, developed from popular languages whose learned form was Sanskrit.

In the course of the migration of its speakers from India to Europe and then to other continents, Rromani was enriched by numerous contributions, especially lexical, of Persian, Caucasian and Balkan origin, and then, more locally, from the various European languages in contact. Today, more than 95% of the Roma are sedentary, often for generations, and are scattered across some 50 countries in Europe, America and Australia - as well as Turkey and Iran. The term "gypsy" (from the Greek for "untouched" or "untouchable" - originally the name of a completely different group: a Manichean sect that preceded the Rroms to Byzantium) designates, depending on the context, either the 4 or 5% of Rroms not settled in a fixed place, or both these and the few groups with an itinerant lifestyle (Celtic Travellers, Germanic Yenish etc. ....) or not (Ashkalo-Egyptians, Rudari-Beás etc...), or all the latter together with the Rroms as a whole, regardless of their lifestyle. This imprecision, added to the fact that "gypsy" is an insult in many European languages, explains why the word "Rrom", by which those concerned designate themselves, is preferred to designate this people of Indian origin characterized by the use or memory of one of the forms of the Rromani language. There is already a literature of several hundred titles in Rromani.

The Rromani language

The Rromani language or "rromani ćhib" is the heritage of some 15,000,000 Rroms worldwide, and almost half of them know it, although statisticians estimate the number of active speakers at around 6 million. Rromani is made up of 4 main dialects, which are close to each other (intercomprehension is possible), but various local phenomena of forgetfulness (and not dialectal differences per se) sometimes make inter-regional communication difficult. In addition to Rromani proper, the heritage of 90% of Rromani people, there are extremely eroded forms in Western Europe that have been blended into local languages (Spanish, Catalan, English, etc.), corresponding to the other 10% and not understandable by other Rromani people.

Studying Rromani at Inalco

Inalco is, along with the University of Bucharest, the only higher education establishment in the world to offer a curriculum in Rromani. The undergraduate course provides training in comprehension in the 4 dialects and expression (oral and written) in the one chosen by the student. It also introduces students to Rromani literature, music, history, ethnology and traditions, etc. This course is complemented by online teaching of Rromani language and culture.

This teaching is geared towards the jobs that are beginning to emerge at European level in this field: teaching, development of teaching materials, translation and interpreting (Council of Europe, OSCE, EU.E. etc...), writing, social work, mediation etc., but is also of interest to scientists and all those attracted by a culture that is both so close and so original, conveyed by the most "Indo-European" of Indo-European languages.


Training courses

Rromani courses can be taken as an option in UE3 and 4 of all our bachelor's degrees, in the Medieval European Civilization diploma, as well as in Passport and minor


RROMANI - Plaquette synthétique 2022-2023 (258.46 KB, .pdf)

Find out more

The little-known history of the rroms
Rromani dialects