Romani dialects in Transylvania: migration and diffusion

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This article presents the linguistic findings of a preliminary survey of dialect variation in Transylvania, Romania, which was carried out by SIL International in cooperation with Manchester University. As such, the article forms a follow-up to Urech and Van den Heuvel (2011), which focussed on one specific aspect of the survey: the relation between language variation and group names. The present article will explain in more detail how the data point towards the existence of two major dialect groups which systematically differ in their values for a number of features. We will argue that the existing pattern of variation can best be explained by combining a model of migration with a model of linguistic diffusion. On the one hand, the strong separation between the two groups by a bundle of isoglosses reflects a historical migration (wave) of Romani speakers from the south into an area where settled speakers spoke a somewhat different form of Romani. Other patterns of variation, however, can better be understood by spreading or diffusion of linguistic features across the area of Transylvania, either preceding or following the immigration of speakers from the south.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-70
JournalRomani Studies
Early online date28 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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