not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Word Wednesday : Gypsy

Today's word is "Gypsy". I have been called many things, and recently I have been hearing 'gypsy' more and more. I'm going to take it as a compliment, but I thought that I'd like to narrow down the definition of and the history of Gypsies.

Main Entry: gyp·sy           Listen to the pronunciation of gypsy
Pronunciation: \ˈjip-sē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): gyp·sied; gyp·sy·ing plural Gypsies
Etymology: by shortening & alteration from Egyptian
Date: circa 1537
1: a member of a traditionally itinerant people who originated in northern India and now live chiefly in south and southwest Asia, Europe, and North America
: romany
3 not capitalized : one that resembles a Gypsy ; especially : wanderer

: to live or roam like a Gypsy

The definition of Gypsy uses "gypsy" as a description, and "Romany" uses "gypsy" as it's I looked up 'WANDERER' which is a bit more clear on what a gypsy is:

intransitive verb1
: to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal
b: to go idly about : ramble <wandering around the house>
2: to follow a winding course : meander3 a: to go astray (as from a course) : stray <wandered away from the group> b: to go astray morally : err
: to lose normal mental contact : stray in thought wandered>transitive verb
: to roam over <wandered the halls>

So YES, I do think that calling me a gypsy would be correct. I do roam {
suggests wandering about freely and often far afield} and meander {mean to go about from place to place usually without a plan or definite purpose}.

Wikipedia says this of the History of "Gypsy":

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states that a gypsy is a "member of a wandering race (by themselves called Romany), of Hindu origin, which first appeared in England about the beginning of the 16th c. and was then believed to have come from Egypt". The OED records the first usage of the word in English as 1514, with several more in the same century, and that both Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare used the word.[1]

The word derives from the word for "Egyptian" in Latin, the same as the Spanish Gitano or the French Gitan. It emerged in Europe, in the 15th century, after their migration into the land of the Romani people (aka Roma) in that continent.[2] They received this name from the local people either because they spread in Europe from an area named Little Egypt, in Southern Balkans or because they fitted the European image of dark-skinned Egyptians skilled in witchcraft. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was written in various ways: Egipcian, Egypcian, 'gipcian, 'gypcian[3]. As the time elapsed, the notion of Gypsy evolved including other stereotypes, like nomadism, exoticism.[4]

Gypsies are associated with fortune-telling, free-spirits, boisterous music {percussion, violins, etc.,}, and dancing.

Flamenco has its roots in the melting pot of Moorish, Jewish and Christian cultures of Andalusia, into which gypsies entered five hundred years ago. The gypsies brought with them their own abundant tradition of song and dance from India, their original home. Flamenco was a folk art of the poor, and reflected the hard, raw reality of life on the margins of society. Love and loss, grief and death are typical themes of flamenco song, but there is also a lighter side, a joy in being alive, a love of family, home, land and the simple details of daily life.

Gypsy's traveled with all of their belongings in their "gypsy wagons"...

Here is MY gypsy wagon...

There have been art about gypsies, fairytales about gypsies, movies about gypsies ("Chocolat") and music (look up Martin Sexton's "Gypsy Woman" will not be disappointed).

One of my favorite bands, Beirut, take inspiration from Gypsy music and the Gypsy lifestyle. Here is a live video of them playing as street performers:

1 comment:

  1. Hi from England, here in the UK Gypsy travellers are one of the most persecuted ethnic minority's with some of the lowest health and educational achievements, gypsies are still pushed from pillor to post. when Gypsies do try and buy land and settle down 95% of planning applications are turned down compared to 85% past for the settled community despite being here in the uk for over 500 years it is a banded about term but in the UK the term Gypsy implies ethnic status and protection under law. kusti bok.