Romaniya: An Introduction to Gypsy Law
Walter O. Weyrauch
The appearance of Romaniya or Gypsy law in legal literature is of extraordinary moment for jurisprudence and the comparative study of law. This autonomous body of law, existing unnoticed among dominant legal systems, has been invisible to legal scholarship and provides a considerable challenge to established ways of thinking.
This volume contains ten essays that describe aspects of Romaniya. Much of the presentation has testimonial character, for example, accounts of past field research in Finland, as told by Martti Grönfors, or of giving expert testimony in a criminal trial involving a Gypsy who had used a wrong social security number, as related by Anne Sutherland.1 Two of the contributors belong to the Romani people: Ian Hancock, who provides a glossary of Romani terms, and Ronald Lee, who gives an ac
Helpful suggestions by Gunther Arzt and Lynn LoPucki are gratefully acknowledged. Research assistance by Rosalie Sanderson is deeply appreciated.
Reference to “Gypsies” in the title and text is not free of problems. The term continues to be widely used in the English language, as illustrated by the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. The corresponding designation taken from the Gypsy language, “Roma, ” has gained wide acceptance, but is disfavored by some Gypsy groups. The Sinti in Germany, for example, prefer separate reference to “Sinti and Roma. ” Historically the Roma had no common name for themselves, although a contemporary movement among them advocates universal adoption of this name. All terms originating from non-Gypsy sources are somewhat in doubt, although not as much as the German word, “Zigeuner, ” which should not be used at all because of disparaging connotations from the times of the Nazi persecutions. Although this essay still refers to “Gypsies, ” it applies the term interchangeably with “Roma” to reflect that custom is in flux. It follows in these respects the mixed usage as applied in the writings of Ian Hancock, Professor of Linguistics and English at the University of Texas in Austin. Hancock, whose Romani name is O Yanko Le Redzosko, is a Rom of British-Hungarian extraction.