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A hitherto unnoticed Armenian loanword preserved in Southern-Italian and Dolenjska Romani


Scholarly work devoted to the contribution of the Armenian language to the Romani lexicon has resulted in the discovery of about fifty loanwords of certain or possible Armenian origin. Some of these loanwords are widespread and generally well preserved in a number of Romani varieties. Some loanwords, however, have been found only in few Romani dialects, or even just in one. As has been already shown in the case of Greek loanwords, Southern Italian Romani, a very conservative and relatively under-explored macro-dialect, sometimes preserves early loanwords which in the other Romani varieties have been replaced as a result of contact with other European languages. Dolenjska Romani, too, features some very conservative lexical items, alongside many innovations of Slavic origin. Both Southern Italian Romani and Dolenjska Romani are considered peripheral dialects representing relic areas in the framework of the European Romani. Accordingly, it is possible to posit an Armenian origin for the adverb of Southern Italian Romani válë ‘early, soon, quickly’ and of Dolenjska Romani vále ‘at once’. The article discusses this hypothesis from a phonetic and a semantic point of view, with an emphasis on the historical phonetics of Romani and Armenian.

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