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All Romani speakers have at least two languages

In Europe, the Roma were “foreigners”, distinct from the local inhabitants not least on account of their own language, Romani, which is related to the Indian language of Sanskrit. For the identity of Roma groups it is important for them to have their own language, yet Romani is not an official language in any European country. Various dialects of Romani – there are thought to be over 100 – have evolved over the centuries as its speakers have migrated across different countries and settled in the various regions in which they live today.

All Romani speakers are bilingual because they always speak also the local language of the country in which they are living. However, many Roma have lost their own language over the course of their long history, primarily as a result of social marginalization and attempts at forced assimilation. It is estimated that roughly three quarters of Roma today speak Romani as their native tongue. The peculiarity of Romani is that it is first and foremost an oral language.

Text from the Goethe Institute 

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