Kaliarda VII: The Romani basis of Kaliarda, updated

By: | Post date: 2017-11-23 | Comments: 3 Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

I have found a copy of Montoliu’s paper on Kaliarda.1 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 Montoliu, I have gone with Poniroskilo’s transliteration (taken from ROMLEX), and I have attempted to normalise the transliteration to ROMLEX.

The Dortika are from (UPDATED) Triantafyllidis, M. 1924. 7. Eine zigeunerisch-griechische Geheimsprache. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschungen 52: 1–40. Reprinted in Άπαντα [Collected Works]: 2: 46–85.

NOTE: I will be updating this listing as I discover more Romani words. Montoliu counts 52 roots. I have 44 (though one, mataˈlo, would have been unknown to Montoliu, and one, parniˈes, replaces berˈde which he erroneously derived from Romani—it is Turkish via cant metathesis.)

Kaliarda Romani Dortika
aˈvelo give, take, do, put, take out, want, have aˈvav, pf. aˈvil be, become, come, arrive vˈela come
ˈaxatos this kate, kathe here ko < Romani k’o “the”
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
banˈɡolos deaf, banˈɡola short-sighted banˈɡo bent, tilted, lopsided; lame, cripple
baˈlos fat baˈlo pig
baˈros fat phaˈro heavy; hear, tiresome, difficult baˈros big
baˈro disease phaˈro heavy; hear, tiresome, difficult
beˈnavo, buˈavo to speak pheˈnav to say, to speak pʰi˞ˈnela to say
bitzaˈnu ravenous homosexual bičiˈnav to sell
buriˈaris singer puˈřiv to give away; to blackmail someone
but very but very, many but very
davelo to take davel “he gives”
dap masturbation, (Older Kaliarda) beating; dup beating tab, tap beating taˈba beating; to beat
ˈdzazo, ˈdzao drive out, leave, flee džav leave, depart, distance oneself, go ˈdzala leave!
ˈdzare 500 drachma note (which is green), dzaroˈsermela “green penis” = “zucchini” (according to Petropoulos) dzare green: presumably, čar “grass”
dziˈnavo understand conflation of ˈdžanav to know and džiˈnav to count, to read
dzoˈvi louse, fly, bug džuv louse ˈdzuva louse
ðiˈkelo, kuˈelo see, look; dik look dikhˈlav, pf. diˈkhel see, look, inspect ˈksela look (Romani etymology unknown)
eˈmandes Ι, manˈdula Ι (diminutive) mande Ι
eˈsandes you (sg), sanˈdula you (diminutive) mande Ι + Greek esi you (sg.)
iˈmandes we mande Ι + Greek emis we
iˈsandes you (pl) mande Ι + Greek esis you (pl.)
irakˈlja woman, iraklo buxom woman rakli, rakhli non-Roma girl rakˈlo boy
ˈkakna, kakˈni chicken khajˈni chicken kaiˈni, ɡaɡˈni chicken
kaliarˈda Greek gay cant < kaliarˈdos ugly, evil, strange kaljarˈdo black, African, blackened, dishonoured: past participle “blackened” of kaljaˈrav to blacken < kaˈlo black; cf. the Spanish Roma language name Caló. Montoliu concludes that this originates from the Roma being called swarthy
kaˈtes, kaˈte that kate, kathe here ko < Romani k’o “the”
kuˈlo turd, shit khul turd, shit
kuraˈvelta sex, kuraˈvelo to have sex as a top kuravel causative of kurel “he beats, he masturbates, has sex” kuraˈvela sex
laˈtsos beautiful, good lačho good, beautiful
luˈbina gay lubhˈni, lumbi, lumli whore, slut
manˈdo bread manˈřo, mandro bread manˈdo  bread
mataˈlo (Older Kaliarda) drunk mato drunk, matalo drunkard maˈto drunk
mol water, liquid, alcoholic drink mol wine mol wine
muˈdzo vagina mindž vagina, vulgar word for girl or girlfriend > English minge
ˈnaka nothing, none, no na khan not at all
paˈɡro hair baˈkro sheep (as a fleeced animal; Standard Greek μαλλί refers to both hair and fleece) baˈkro sheep, goat
parniˈa, pl. parniˈes money parˈno, pl. parˈne white; money
peˈle testicle peˈlo, pl. peˈle testicles
piˈselo to sleep pašˈlav to put to sleep
ˈpuli anus bul arse
puˈros old phuˈro old, grandfather
ˈrelo fart řil fart (in the Sepeči Romani dialect of Volos)
so kerdes? what exactly? how exactly? so kerdes? how are you?
tekˈno boy, young man, small tikno small, dainty
tiraˈxo shoe tiˈrax shoe patsarˈxa shoes
tsurˈno theft, especially of the wallet of a top by the bottom’s friend hiding under the bed čoˈrav to steal, to rob tsoˈrela, tsuˈrela theft
tuˈlo five-drachma piece, duˈlo money thuˈlo fat (via mainstream Greek slang xonˈdra “fat, thick” (neut.pl) = “a lot of money”
ˈxalo eat xav, pf. xal eat xala < khala “he eats”, xaljon < khaliom “I ate”

NOTE: The words develo ~ dzevelo “to desire”, dapavelo “to surrender” are clearly also Romani, but I have been unable to date to work out their etymology. (dapavelo looks like the causative tapavel “he makes someone beat someone up”)


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    M T W T F S S
    1. Montoliu, C. 2005. Is Kaliarda, Greek Gay Slang, a mixed gypsy language? Erytheia 26: 299–318.

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