Romanes Picture Dictionary Project

Our aim has been to create an online speaking picture dictionary that could be accessible from mobile devices; for school staff, children and parents.  The picture dictionary has been in printed form for some time – but an interactive version is at a very useable stage of development.  

The format is based on a selection of key words divided into key themes:  Wild animals, Domestic animals, Minibeasts, Farm animals, Food, People, The body, Transport, Weather, Kitchen, Bathroom, Seasons, Fruit, School and Numbers.

There has been a lot of work going on to bring the online dictionary to a useable position.

We have met headteachers and inclusion managers,  and had many sessions with Roma children from Mayespark Primary, Woodlands Primary and Gordon Primary Schools in the London Borough of Redbridge.

This has included taking to parents and children about their words for each item, and discussing various dialect nuances, both within a country and across counties.  There have been numerous difficulties in trying to define an essential lexicon of words, that has provided fascinating and interesting discussions with the children and their parents.

The Romanes language has many commonalities across countries, but often the language will borrow words from the actual country, and these will be different for each country.  For example:  ‘Shop’ in Polish and Romanian are not Romanes words…Sklep and Magasin respectively, but are used by Roma as part of the Romanes language. Also, depending on the area / Roma clan, different dialect may use different Romanes words.  For example, a bear could be Urso or Richino, a car could be Machina or Vurdon and a lion could be Leu or Shagar. Currently there are two main dialects available: Vlack or Balkan Romanes and Polska Romanes.

We view this dictionary as a living evolving collection of words. The words are not set in stone, and throughout our work in schools, where children have used other Romanes words, we have encouraged their recognition, and the dictionary may include multiple Romanes word choices for the English equivalent.

The original dictionary on which the interactive version is based.