The English Gipsies and Their Language eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about The English Gipsies and Their Language.

That some words have come from one source and been aided by another, is continually apparent in English Gipsy, as for instance in the word for reins, “guiders,” which, until the Rommany reached England, was voidas.  In this instance the resemblance in sound between the words undoubtedly conduced to an union.  Gibberish may have come from the Gipsy, and at the same time owe something to gabble, jabber, and the old Norse or Icelandic gifra. Lush may owe something to Mr Lushington, something to the earlier English lush, or rosy, and something to the Gipsy and Sanskrit.  It is not at all unlikely that the word codger owes, through cadger, a part of its being to kid, a basket, as Mr Halliwell suggests (Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1852), and yet come quite as directly from gorger or gorgio.  “The cheese” probably has the Gipsy-Hidustani chiz for a father, and the French chose for a mother, while both originally sprung thousands of years ago in the great parting of the Aryan nations, to be united after so long a separation in a distant island in the far northern seas.

The etymologist who hesitates to adopt this principle of joint sources of derivation, will find abundant instances of something very like it in many English Gipsy words themselves, which, as belonging to a language in extreme decay, have been formed directly from different, but somewhat similarly sounding, words, in the parent German or Eastern Rommany.  Thus, schukker, pretty; bi-shukker, slow; tschukko, dry, and tschororanes, secretly, have in England all united in shukar, which expresses all of their meanings.


An Old Gipsy Proverb—­Common Proverbs in Gipsy Dress—­Quaint Sayings—­Characteristic Rommany Picture-Phrases.

Every race has not only its peculiar proverbs, sayings, and catch-words, but also idiomatic phrases which constitute a characteristic chiaroscuro, if not colour.  The Gipsies in England have of course borrowed much from the Gorgios, but now and then something of their own appears.  In illustration of all this, I give the following expressions noted down from Gipsy conversation:—­

Tacho like my dad.  True like my father.

Kushto like my dad.  Good like my father.

This is a true Gipsy proverb, used as a strongly marked indication of approbation or belief.

Kushto bak.  Good luck!

As the Genoese of old greeted their friends with the word Guadagna! or “Gain!” indicating as Rabelais declares, their sordid character, so the Gipsy, whose life is precarious, and who depends upon chance for his daily bread, replies to “Sarishan!” (good day!) with “Kushto bak!” or “Good luck to you!” The Arabic “Baksheesh” is from the same root as bak, i.e., bacht.

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The English Gipsies and Their Language from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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