Romany Words and Phrases

Several traditional Romany terms are used in the opera. Their pronunciations and definitions are given below.

Ach Devlesa — (ahch dev-LESS-ah)  farewell (to one staying)
ataman — (AHT-ah-muhn)  chieftan;  the leader of a Romany camp
Calo Rom — (KAH-loh rahm)  literally, a “dark Rom”
Dza Devlesa — (dzhah dev-LESS-ah)  farewell (to one leaving)
gadjo — (GAH-dzhoh)  a non-Romany person
pisliskurja — (pees-lis-KOOR-yah)  darling
rom — (rahm)  capitalized:  a Romany person (Gypsy*);  lower-case: man
Sar san, miri dye? — (sahr sahn meer-ih dyeh)  How are you, my mother?
sedre — (SED-reh)  son
T’aves baxtalo! — (TAH-vess BACH-tah-loh)  Congratulations!

* The term Gypsy is a common reference to the Romany people, though used primarily by non-Romanies. While not as derogatory a term as are many ethnic slurs, it is not the preferred word to use when referring to Romanies. Preferable are the terms Rom, Roma, and Romany as Gypsy can sometimes carry negative connotations. Both terms are used interchangeably in the opera, the choice being determined by the musical line or when the term Gypsy might be better understood by a non-Romany audience.

Return to libretto