Subscribe to Blog via Email
March 2023 M T W T F S S « Nov 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Triantafyllidis, M. 1923. Τα «ντόρτικα» της Ευρυτανίας: συµβολή στα ελληνικά µαστόρικα. Λαογραφία 7: 243–258. Available online.
Montoliu, C. 2005. Is Kaliarda, Greek Gay Slang, a mixed gypsy language? Erytheia 26: 299–318.
Kaliarda III: The Romani basis of Kaliarda
NOTE: Updates on The Romani basis of Kaliarda, updated.
What Petropoulos had not picked up on in his first edition was that the base of the distinctive lexicon of Kaliarda is Romani—something that he had emended by the second edition.
There is precedent for a Romani base in other Greek cants—notably the builders’ cant Dortika in Eurytania, which Manolis Triantafyllidis published on in 1923.1
In his magisterial post but—or, the influences of Romani on Kaliarda, slang.gr user Poniroskilo has compared Petropoulos’ vocabulary against the ROMLEX database of Romani dialects and I. Alexiou’s dictionary of Romani, and come up with the following list of core Romani vocabulary in Kaliarda. (I’m adding a column for Dortika, though Triantafyllidis did not publish a lot of his material, and his published article only went through words starting with mu.)
|aˈvelo give, take, do, put, take out, want, have||avel, avela, avol be, become, come, arrive|
|ðiˈkelo see, look; dik look||dikhel see, look, inspect|
|irakˈlja woman, iraklo buxom woman||rakli, rakhli non-Roma girl|
|ˈkakna, kakˈni chicken||khajni chicken|
|kaliarˈda Greek gay cant < kaliarˈdos ugly, evil, strange||kaljardo black, African, blackened, dishonoured < kalo black|
|kaˈtes, kaˈte that||kate, kathe here|
|kuˈlo turd, shit||khul turd, shit|
|kuraˈvelta sex, kuraˈvelo to have sex as a top||kuřipe sex, kurela to have sex|
|laˈtsos beautiful, good||lačho good, beautiful|
|luˈbina gay||lubni, lumbi, lumli whore, slut|
|manˈdo bread||manro, mandro bread||manˈdo|
|mol water, liquid, alcoholic drink||mol wine||mol wine|
|muˈdzo vagina||mindž vagina, vulgar word for girl or girlfriend > English minge|
|balaˈmo middle-aged client of male prostitute||balamo, balamno boss, judge, non-Roma; in Sepeči Romani dialect (Volos): ethnic Greek||balaˈmos man, human; boss, householder|
|baˈros, baˈlos fat||baro big, tall||baˈros big|
|but very||but very, many||but very|
|peˈle testicle||pelo, pl. pele testicles|
|ˈpuli anus||bul arse|
|puˈros old||phuro old, grandfather|
|ˈrelo fart||ril fart (in the Sepeči Romani dialect of Volos)|
|tekˈno boy, young man, small||tikno small, dainty|
|tiraˈxo shoe||tirax shoe (in the Sepeči Romani dialect of Volos)|
|ˈdzazo drive out, leave, flee||džal, džala, džal-tar leave, depart, distance oneself, go||ˈdzala leave!|
|tsurˈno theft, especially of the wallet of a top by the bottom’s friend hiding under the bed||čor thief, robber|
|ˈxalo eat||xal, hal eat||xaljon|
(The multivalent verbs avelo and dzazo are light verbs, a type common in the borrowing of verbs into other languages: nouns are easier to borrow than verbs, so languages often borrow the nouns, and use vague verbs like “do” with them. In fact, contemporary Greek does that routinely with online communication verbs taken from English notions: κάνω subscribe, κάνω add, κάνω like.)
In his 2005 study2, César Montoliu concludes that “Kaliardá is not a mixed Gypsy language. It is rather a slang or a professional jargon with an important Romani element in it.” Poniroskilo also cites Sofronis Chatzisavvidis of Thessalonica University (article no longer online) as saying that 15% of the Kaliarda vocabulary is Romani.
Montoliu adds his hypothesis “that it first appeared in a Romani speaking environment connected with male prostitution.” The smoking gun is in fact in Poniroskilo’s list, in the entry for balamo, as slang.gr commenter Vrastaman was delighted to realise:
Vrastaman: I always wondered where the dick [πού στον πούτσο] those two communities intersected. I never realised the obvious, that they intersected on dick! You found the missing link under balamo which explains everything. Respect!
Iron: It’d also be interesting to make a list of those words which have ended up in everyday Greek slang: τεκνό, πουρό, τζάζω, λουμπίνα, κουλό etc.
- tekˈno “toyboy, twink”,
- puˈro “dirty old man”,
- ˈdzazo “to send away, to get rid of”,
- luˈbina, variously defined on slang.gr “whore” (explained here as derived from the pseudonym of a well-paid female sex worker of the 1930s—clearly itself taken from the Romani for “whore”), “gay bottom”, and “cunning and conniving”,
- kuˈlo Kaliarda: “turd”; Standard Greek slang has meanings derived from its normal meaning “lame”: “nonsensical, unreasonable” (possibly independently from English lame); “left hand” in Koutsavakika—although one commenter speculates that the meaning “nonsense” derives from Kaliarda
John Black: Obviously, Vrasta. Gays would give 20 drachmas to a horny Gypsy kid, or buy him a cheese pie, and he’d stick it in them (τους τον φέρμαρε). See Giannaris’ classic film From the Edge of the City, although the male prostitutes in that film are ex-Soviet Pontic Greeks (ρουπούδες), not Roma.
- John Black’s ρουπούδες is an acronym, using the unofficial Greek syllabic alphabet: ρου που = ΡΠ = Ρωσσο-Πόντιοι “Russian Pontians”.
[…] c(u)ore + averta, but that would be too romantic for Kaliarda. Or alternatively, one could just check Romani as Poniroskilo at slang.gr did, and find kurela “to have sex”, presumably with the verb avelo […]
[…] I will post on it separately, but I’m going to use the opportunity to supplement the Romani etymologies provided by Poniroskilo on slang.gr, with the extensive etymologies provided by Montoliu. Where a term appears in both Poniroskilo and […]
This is a great series. I seem to recall (and OED confirms) that English dekko is from Hindi; I wonder if it’s another distant relation of dikhel, ðiˈkelo, and dik.
Likewise Scottish deek ‘look’, which came in through Romani, whereas dekko came in through returnees from British India.