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Kaliarda XIII: The Turkish Gay Cant
I’ve found the paper by Kyuchukov & Bakker on the gay cant of Istanbul.
Spatholouro’s find and Montoliu’s had built up my expectations that this would be a carbon copy of Kaliarda, with the same polyglot amusements and compounding hilarity. Maybe it was; but the vocabulary Kyuchukov & Bakker recorded is just straight Romani words—like Kaliarda would have been at its very earliest stages. And a lot of the vocabulary is not shared with Kaliarda.
(I’m switching to acutes here, since they are combined in the article with Turkish orthography.)
Dortika, again for comparison, from Triantafyllidis, M. 1924. 7. Eine zigeunerisch-griechische Geheimsprache. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschungen 52: 1–40. Reprinted in Άπαντα [Collected Works]: 2: 46–85.
p. 96. Although Romani has largely died out in Turkey, some subgroups in Turkey use Romani vocabulary. Romani musicians in Üsküdar use the following:
|Turkish Musician cant||Gloss||Romani Etymology||Kaliarda||Dortika|
|baró||“stranger”||baró “big”||barós||barós “big”|
|paní||“water”||paní||mol < mol “wine”||paní|
|cükél||“dog”||džukel||Kaliarda has instead used non-Romani sources: ɣuɣumis (onomatopoeia) ɣuɣulfakis “little wolf” < English wolf + ɣuɣumis, lisaɣman < Greek lisaɣma “state of having rabies” + French -ment, fidelis < French fidèle “faithful”||tskil, askél (< t’ askel “the dog” as metanalysis of tskil)|
|şukár||“pretty”||šukar||Only latsos < lačho||sumnal “beautiful, healthy” < Albanian shumë “very” + Romani šukar|
|román||“Gypsy”||Rom||romanás||rómis “smith, [Gypsy]” (Greek γύφτος means both)|
p. 97. The paper only lists Romani words from the gay cant. Other words were of Kurdish or Slavic origin, or unknown; they do not mention Italian, French, or English, the other major sources of Kaliarda words.
The paper identifies lubunja “gay” as Slavic, from liubima “darling”. We have seen the equivalent Kaliarda lubína, and likely the older Kaliarda labuní, were derived from Romani lubhni “whore”. A Slavic etymology is not impossible, especially if there are other Slavic words in Turkish gay cant; but there are no Slavic words that I know of in Kaliarda, and the Romani word looks more plausible.
|Turkish Gay cant||Gloss||Romani Etymology||Kaliarda||Dortika|
|naş||“go away, get lost”||nas||Only dzaz- < džas||naʃto|
|gaci||“woman”||gadži “non-Gypsy woman”||Not present, although irakli “woman” < rakhli “non-Gypsy girl” is||gadzana, gadzi “married woman”|
|laço||“good looking man”||latsos < lačho “good”||latso|
|ṣukar||“handsome man”||šukar “good, pretty||Only latsos||sumnal “beautiful, healthy” < Albanian shumë “very” + Romani šukar|
|çangal||“shoe”||cang “leg”||only tiraxo|
|phuri||“old man”||phuri “old woman”||puri|
|p(h)uri balamoz||“old man”||phuri balamo “old non-Gypsy”||puros|
|denyo||“mad, crazy”||dejno, dilo, dilino “insane”||dilinos, diʎnos|
|matiz||“drunk”||mato||Older Kaliarda matalo||mato|
|piiz||“drinking”||pi- “to drink”||Would be too close to Greek aorist pi-||piela|
|baaro||“male adult”||baro “big”||baros “fat”||baros “big, rich”|
|but baare||“big penis”||but baro “very big”||bara “crowbar” > “penis” is likely coincidence||gar “penis”|
|taliga||“taxi”||taliga “carriage”||Kaliarda would avoid dalika “truck”, which is already in colloqual Greek|
|taligatör||“taxi driver”||taliga “carriage”|
|tariz olmak||“falling in love”||thar- “to burn”|
|kelav||“prostitute”||kelav “I play, I dance”|
|peniz||“talk, talking”||pen- “to say, to speak”||benavo||pʰinela|
|çorna||“theft”||čor- “to steal”||tsurno||tsorela, tsurela|
|çornaci||“thief”||čor- “to steal”||tsoris, dzortʲs|
|cici||“homosexual”||džidže “elder sister”||aðerfi “sister” = gay; Kaliarda also has dzidzis, dzidzikis “bohemian, carefree”, which Petropoulos derives from Greek dzidziki “cicada” (via the Aesopian fable of the Ant and the Cricket)|
|soralo||“homosexuals”||šoralo “man with big head, leader”|
|tariz||“burning, flame”||thar- “to burn”|
|habbe||“meal, food”||habe, xabe||xal||xala, xalion “to eat”|
p. 98 phuri preserves Romani aspiration, and baare, piiz vowel length; both are alien to Turkish. By contrast, Kaliarda phonology is thoroughly assimilated to Greek. Dortika, too, preserves Romani phonetics: pʰinela for Kaliarda benavo, kʃier “house” < kher, kxer.
The Kaliarda Romani vocabulary is clearly more parsimonious, which corroborates its greater artificiality: lačho also does the work of šukar, džav the work of nas.
A surprising number of words have no Romani-derived equivalent at all in Kaliarda, or have picked different Romani words (e.g. çangal vs tiraxo). The list of common words (even if we include the calque “sister”) is in fact quite small: “pretty, vagina, old, big (grown up), very, theft, food”.
We know that matalo used to be in Kaliarda; and it would be implausible to suggest an independent genesis of Kaliarda from Turkish Gay cant. But the complete absence of Italian in Turkish Gay cant is striking, given that Montoliu argued it represented the Ottoman, Levantine past of the idiom. Whatever was the case in the past, this is now only a vaguely related cant. And as the comparison with Dortika shows, it is also much closer to its Romani origins than Kaliarda is.