Traditional language used by the Gypsy, Romani & Traveller community

Diffrent Traveller groups all have their own languages that are diffrent and come from diffrent origins.  For most English GRT groups, English will be their first language and GRT children and young people will speak the traditional GRT languages to different degrees.

This Language is spoken all over the world and  over time it has fragmented and changed to incorporate local elements and language from the communitites that they live, travel and work in,  therefore there are varations across diffrent groups countries and even counties.

Many Traveller words have made their way into everyday English, such as kushti, lollypop, pal.  This is historically due to the mixing of Travellers during seasonal work on farms where non-Travellers (gorgers) would also travel down for the ‘hopping’ (the picking of hops during the summer months)

These are the three main languages that the GRT community in the UK speak. However, there are other languages spoken by GRT peoples.  


This is the language derived from India where the Roma gypsies originated from. Romani still shares some of its words with Sanskrit. Romani people do not speak Romanian (unless they are from Romania).


This is the language widely spoken by Irish Travellers. Irish Travellers share some words with Romani; this is down to the different groups mixing, and intermarriage.

English Romani

English Romani; also known as Angloromany, Rummaness, or Pogadi Chib/jib (broken language). This is a mixture of Romani words and English. Often old English and cockney rhyming slang may also be part of the GRT lexicon.

Traditionally these languages were not written. They evolved as spoken languages, so there is a wide range of spellings.

Examples of this : Language - Friends, Families and Travellers (

Also, if a GRT family or child has travelled from another country to the UK then they may speak the language of their home nation and little or no English.

Therefore the best practice for EAL (English as an Additional Language) should be applied in this instance. English may be their 3rd or 4th language.

Best practice

  • Some Travellers feel that their language is private. Never feel as though you can just use any Romani words you may know as this could cause offence if used incorrectly.
  • Show an interest in the language and ask if they would mind sharing some of the words and meanings with you.
  • Be respectful; these languages are part of the GRT heritage and identity and are just as important, nuanced and expressive as any other language.