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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Are evidently derived from the Gipsy


[14] I sent him a specimen of forty-six words. [Many words used in Scotland, in every day life, are evidently derived from the Gipsy, owing, doubtless, to the singularity of the people who have used them, or the happy peculiarity of circumstances under which they have been uttered; the original cause of such passing current in a language, no less than that degree of personal authority which sometimes occasions them to be adopted. _Randy_, a disreputable word for a bold, scolding, and not over nicely worded woman, is evidently derived from the Gipsy _raunie_, the chief of a tribe of viragos; so that the exceptions spoken of are as likely to have been derived from the Gipsy as _vice versa_.--ED.]

[15] The name by which Mr. Blackwood was known in the celebrated Chaldee manuscript, published in his magazine.

[16] Previous to this, Mr. Blackwood wrote me as follows: "I received your packet some days ago, and immediately gave it to the editor. He desires me to say that your No. 5, though very curious, would not answer, from the nature of the details, to be printed in the magazine. In a regular history of the Gipsies, they would, of course, find a place." This was what suggested the idea of the present work.

And again as follows:

"An authentic list of Gipsy words, as used in Scotland, especially if in such numbers

as may afford any reasonable or probable conjecture as to the structure of the language, is a desideratum in Scottish literature which would be very acceptable to the philologist, as well as an addition to general history. I am not aware that any such exists, though there is a German publication on the subject, which it would be very necessary to consult.[17] That the language exists, I have no doubt, though I should rather think the number to which it is known is somewhat exaggerated. I need not point out to you the difference between the _cant_ language, or _slang_, used by thieves or flash men in general, and the peculiar dialect said to be spoken by the Gipsies.[18] The difference ought to be very carefully noticed, to ascertain what sort of language they exactly talk; whether it is an original tongue, having its own mode of construction, or a speech made up of cant expressions, having an English or Scotch ground-work, and only patched up so as to be unintelligible to the common hearer. There is nothing else occurs to me by which I can be of service to your enquiry. My own opinion leads me to think that the Gipsies have a distinct and proper language, but I do not consider it is extensive enough to form any settled conclusion. If there occur any facts which I can be supposed to know, on which you desire information, I will be willing to give them, in illustration of so curious an enquiry. I have found them, in general, civil and amenable to reason; I must, nevertheless, add that they are vindictive, and that, as the knowledge of their language is the secret which their habits and ignorance make them tenacious of, I think your researches, unless conducted with great prudence, may possibly expose you to personal danger. For the same reason, you ought to complete all the information you can collect, before alarming them by a premature publication, as, after you have published, there will be great obstructions to future communications on the subject."


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