Rom - Orientation

Identification. The Rom speaking a Vlach (Vlax) Gypsy dialect have representatives over most of the world including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and much of Central and South America. Rom means "human being," "man," and "husband," thus paralleling the use of the word "man" in English. "Rom" and "Gypsy" are used interchangeably Because for the Rom the English term carries none of the negative connotations it has for many non-Gypsies.

Location. The Rom are found in every state, and although some continue to be seminomadic, traveling throughout the country and into Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and occasionally to Europe, most families strive to control a territory focused on a pool of fortune-telling clientele. Most Rom are urban dwellers, found primarily in the larger metropolitan centers; fewer live in small towns and on busy main roads throughout rural America.

Demography. My enumeration of the Rom population in several states and large cities, and interviews with the Rom about their knowledge of where different families live, resulted in a figure of less than twenty thousand. The New York metropolitan area has the largest concentration, with perhaps as many as four hundred to five hundred families. Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities have lesser concentrations corresponding primarily to their population size.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Rom speak a dialect of a Language belonging to the Indic branch of the Indo-European language family. They refer to it adverbially as speaking Romanes, "in the Gypsy way"; in English the language is called "Gypsy." Linguists refer to it and other related but not always mutually intelligible dialects as "Romani." The dialect spoken by the Rom falls into a category of Vlach, or Romanian-influenced Gypsy dialects.

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