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Publication: Romani Studies
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 70308
ISSN: 15280748
Journal code: RMNS

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

Three manuscripts in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich (BSB) belonged to a 'Johannes ex Grafing': Codex graecus Monacensis (Cgrm) 582a,1 Codices hebraici Monacenses (Chm) 400 and 4Oi.2

The importance of these three manuscripts lies not only in the fact that Cgrm 58ia contains the only extant copy of Johannes Reuchlin s (1455-1522) long-lost Latin prose translation of the pseudo-homeric Batrachomyomachia;3 but also that it contains the earliest vocabulary of the Romani language, in a rare conjunction with Czech- Polish specimens and Hungarian and Cuman -Turkic Pater nosters, Ave Marias, and Credos.

Cgrm 582a encloses, inter alia, a collection of excerpts from texts in all probability copied in the great German humanist Johannes Reuchlin s library at Stuttgart - there may be even notes going back to conversations with Reuchlin. The scribe, Johannes ex Grafing, a (young?) student of the Benedictine monastery Ebersberg in Bavaria, just east of Munich, was in contact not only with Reuchlin and his friend Erhard von Pappenheim (d. 1497), but also with Stephanus Septemius (c.i4/o-after 1512) and Conrad Celtis (1460-1508), whose still unpublished Greek grammar he also copied. The descriptions of the Sibyls in the manuscript come from the equally important Nuremberg humanist Hartmann Schedel's (1450-1514) Libri cronicarum (1493). Johannes seems to quote the hebraist Johannes Boeschenstein (1472-1540): in short, these few names throw light on contemporaries of Johannes ex Grafing he must have met during his lifetime. To a degree these names stand for the quality of the texts gathered by Johannes. This may, perhaps, add to the authenticity of the Romani lines.

When Johannes ex Grafing studied in Vienna, approximately between 1510 and 1515, he could easily have met people speaking languages unknown to him, such as Czech- Polish, Hungarian, Cuman-Turkic and even Gypsies speaking Romani. Being of an inquisitive nature, he seems to have asked a number of people to provide him with specimens of their respective languages. Unsurprisingly, Johannes used the Pater nosier, Ave Maria, and the Credo - plus simple grammatical samples including cardinal numerals - as short representatives of those languages none of which he knew first hand. He also must have interviewed a Romani - speaking individual - resulting in a Latin-Romani glossary (fol. ii4r).4

The unpublished lines represent indeed the earliest effort to put just over five dozen Romani words into writing. During the sixteenth century, three more short samples of the Romani language are attested, briefly described by Yaron Matras (2002: 2): Andrew Borde' s (1542) 'Egypt, and of theyr mony and of theyr speche', Johan van Ewsurn s (before 1570) 'Glene Gijpta sprake', Bonaventura Vulcanius' (1597) 'De Nubianis erronibus, quos Itali Cíngaros appellant, eorumque lingua.5 Words agreeing in these sources with equivalents from Johannes ex Grafing's earlier lines are gathered below together with the few in Evliya Celebi's report in his 'Seyähat-näme' report (1668) and William Marsdens Observations (1785) with his 'Comparisons of the Gypsey and Hindostanic languages' (p. 386). All are independent from each other, their authors came from different backgrounds and had different interests. As their contributions have been analyzed, they nor their differences in orthography or dialect will be discussed here.

In the Munich manuscript the 67 Latin lemmata are followed by 61 Romani equivalents. There are very brief sentences in lines 40 and 42-43. Since Christian texts were not available in Romani, the Pater nosier, Ave Maria, and Credo were not used as examples as in the Hungarian and Cuman -Turkic specimens on the next two pages in the manuscript (fols. ii4v and ii5r).

The Romani lines are divided into small groups, separated by line breaks, beginning with seven signs from the Zodiac, sun, moon and stars, then come words for humans and animals, social status, body parts, followed by a few simple sentences, and finally cardinal numerals. This seems to indicate that Johannes, the compiler of the list, followed a certain 'scholarly' formula, as if filling out a questionnaire. By contrast, the scholar BonaventuraVulcanius sorted his list not in groups, but alphabetically. It contains about 70 words (no numerals), of which 15 occur in Cgrm 582a as well.

The upper part of folio ii4r comprises 34 lines with simple Czech and Polish specimens, closed by a dividing line (drawn perhaps somewhat later by the same hand, may be with another pen); after another dividing line the same hand wrote an Ave sanctissima in Hungarian with superscript Latin equivalents at the bottom of the page on lines 48-51. In the middle, between these two parts, are the thirteen Romani lines, 35-47.6

The lines contain Latin lemmata followed by their equivalents in Romani. In the transcription abbreviations in Latin words are resolved, mostly endings: -m, -us, -is, also -ui-, -n-. The spelling of the Romani words in Cgrm 582a may be the result of dictation.

Obviously, the scribe, Johannes ex Grafing, did not know Romani, but, considering the circumstances in about 1515, it seems that his 'transcription is fairly accurate. Misreadings of his own notes (Winter, pers. comm.) and misunderstandings (or 'mis-hearings'?) may also account for some of the still open questions (cf. 35 Capricornus! .36 dies .38 dominus), even obvious errors (.47 'schei' 100 for 'mille' iooo mila tausend). All of this seems to vouch for these lines as Originar.

In the Vocabulary, below, an attempt has been made to compare the Romani equivalents of the Latin words, including numerals, in the thirteen lines of the Munich manuscript with the materials collected in various dictionaries and studies (in 1999, with a few later additions). Most of the words are nouns, in the nominative singular, some are in the plural; only in the short sentences in lines 40-3 do verb forms and nouns occur in the accusative; lines 44-7 contain cardinal numerals.

Some Romani words cannot yet convincingly be connected with equivalents in the compared vocabularies. Not all readings of the Latin as well as the Romani words offered below may be correct (e.g. .35 erpalli, .37 cipalli, .42 schina su(m) [or schimsu(m)?]).

Many of the studies checked so far present more recent developments of the various dialects involved. Some words in the Munich manuscript are described as obsolete Cobs') in IgIa s list. Some words of the Romani dialect in the Munich list seem to be linked to the Gurbet, if not even the Bosnian Gurbet (Boretzky and IgIa 1994: 366); compare, perhaps, .36 brasus, scherheni, oltaris, .38 schabo, .39 scherOy .40 onri [ou-?], .46 dryana [sic, read dryanna?].

On the other hand, a few words in Cgrm 58ia turn up neither in Boretzky/ IgIa [1994], nor in German or English/Romani indexes: .35 lebus leo, schon, capricornuSy .37 müich mulus .... It is interesting to compare Boretzky' s observations in his study of the Bugurdzi dialect in Kosovo (1993). Apparently the informer of the Munich list originated from the north Balkans, which were then under German influence. Norbert Boretzky often points to possible Sinti connections (pers. comm., August 1999). That the focal point seems to be a region south or east of Vienna and surroundings, Poland and Hungary, is supported by various items gathered in the three manuscripts largely written by Johannes and mentioned above.

Doubtful letters are underdotted; the few abbreviations in the Romani words are not resolved (except for .34 lebus and .35 oltaris).

Munich, Cgrm 682a, fol. 114r, lines 35-47 (see Figures 1 and 2).

.35 Aries corpalli. taur(us) gurff [supra: gurff]. Cancer garaffeni. leo leb(us). virgo schukairanj. Capri corn(us) schon, pisc(is) matschi.

.36 SoL kam. luna bras(us). stelle scherheni. dies oltar(is)

.37 homo cipalli. equ(us) grast, mul(us) müich. canis schügel. lep(us) schoschoich. cerv(us) ilaffus. vacca, gürffin.

.38 do(minus) greischeich. serv(us) oraclo. a(n)cilla iracli. d(omi)na mantschi. puer schabo. senex puro.

.39 Caput scheo. oculi acaü. aures gan. li(n)gua schab, os müich. man(us) bast. pes puiri.

.40 Volemus libe(n)t(er)bibe(re) vinu(m). pyabus mol. [space] pane(m) maro. carnes mas. ova onri. caseu(m) girai.

.41 Aqua(m) dulce(m) laschas pañi.

.42 Quid dixisti. fopensal. No(n) audivi naschimsü. Intellexi schinasü.

.43 da michi pecunia(m) deo me parnj.

.44 Unu(m) lek. duo dui. tria trin. q(ua)tuor ster. qu(in)que pansch, sex schoff. septe(m) effta. octo. [space] nove(m) egna.

.45 dece(m) desch. undeci(m) deschuic. duodeci(m) deschuduj.

.46 [space] trig(i)nta dryana. q(ua)drag(i)nta sterbaltisch. qu(in)q(ua)gi(n)ta spantusbartisch.

.47 mille schei, duo milia dui schei,

Words agreeing in these six specimens for the Romani language:

c.1515 Johannes ex Grafing (monastery Ebersberg, near Munich)

1542 Andrew Borde (London)

< 1570 Johann van Ewsum (Groningen)

1597 BonaventuraVulcanius (Leiden)

1668 Evliya Çelebi (Ottoman city of Cumulane, now Komotini in Thrace, Greece)

1785 William Marsden (London)


William Hanaway, Philadelphia, noticed (May 1999) that Buck (1949), 54, lists Gypsy gam, kam for 'Sun', and suggested Romani as the language in question. Most of the lemmata in the Munich manuscript could be identified in Norbert Boretzky's and Birgit Igla's Wörterbuch Romani, Deutsch, Englisch of 1994, and the Vokabular in IgIa (1996). Werner Winter contributed valuable suggestions. Norbert Boretzky analyzed the entire vocabulary carefully. Precious advice came from Eric P. Hamp (in pers. comm.). As a non-specialist who does not know Romani I am particularly grateful to the readers of the draft of this article who rightly propose that Evliya Çelebi's list of Romani words should be included. Special thanks go to Yaron Matras, whose Linguistic Introduction of 2002 provides an excellent tool to understand the complexity of Romani, and whose patience finally paid off.

1. Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cgrm 582a, cart., s. XV/XVI. [probably £1495-1520], III, 266 fols., 16.5x8 cm. Inventar: Codices graeci Monacenses (Cgrm) [Inventar 575-619: this section of the inventory is not yet properly catalogued, but will be dealt with by Friederike Berger] . A copy of the handwritten (undated) list of the Inventar is available in the Reading Room of the Handschriftenabteilung, p. 2; the table of contents for Cgrm 582a in this inventory is a correct copy of Ignaz Hardts list of the contents of Cgrm 582a, fols. I-Ila. Hardt's inadequate first description was emended, also inadequately, by Wolfgang Hörmann. Das Supplement der griechischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: ?????e?, Festgabe für die Teilnehmer am XI. internationalen Byzantinistenkongress, München 15. -20. 9. 1958, ed. HansGeorg Beck (Freising: Datterer, 1958), 56f. A preliminary description by Knauer, Georg N. 1996. Iter per miscellanea: Homers Batrachomyomachia and Johannes Reuchlin. In: Nichols, Stephen G. and Wenzel, Siegfried, eds. The whole book: Cultural perspectives on the medieval miscellany. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 28-35. Compare Kristeller, Paul Oskar. 1997. Iter Italicum, A finding list of uncatalogued or incompletely catalogued humanistic manuscripts of the Renaissance in Italian and other librairies, A cumulative Index to volumes I-VI (Leiden: Brill), 604; Hajdu, Kerstin. 2002. Die Sammlung griechischer Handschriften in der Münchener Hofbibliothek bis zum Jahr 1803, Eine Bestandsgeschichte der Codices graeci Monacenses 1-323. Catalogus codicum manu scriptorum Monacensis, II, pars X, i (Wiesbaden), 89Í. Provenance: (fol. ir, bottom) Residentiae Soctls Jesu, Ebersbergae 1596. The manuscript was in the old Benedictine monastery at Ebersberg in Upper Bavaria long before it was taken over by the Jesuits in 1595. The following considerations are based on my typescript [unfinished] description of Cgrm 582a, deposited in the Handschriftenabteilung of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in March 2004, revised in December 2009. Peter Thiermann (d. 1994) drew my attention to this manuscript (11 Nov. 1991).

2. Rupprich, Hans. Der Briefwechsel des Konrad Celtis. 1934. Veröffentlichungen der Kommission zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Reformation und Gegenreformation, Humanistenbriefe 3 (Munich), 273 n. i: Rupprich identifies the two manuscripts as being written in large parts by Johannes ex Grafing. He also assumes that he was, perhaps, one of those fratres ('brothers') abbot Sebastian Hafele (1472-1500, d.i5O4) sent to study at the universities of Ingolstadt and Vienna. This assumption can not be proven.

3. Unpubl. Cf. Knauer (1996, see n. i: 23-36); Reuchlin's translation of the Batrachomyomachia will be published in the volume of the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum describing the Latin translations of Homer.

4. A photo of fol. ??4G was published by Gabor Sarbak. 2005. Magyar nyelvemlék a XVI. század elejeröl a Bajor Nemzeti Konyvtarban [?? early loth-century Hungarian record in the National (recte: State) Library of Bavaria ]. Magyar Nyelv 101: 149, together with his edition and interpretation of the Hungarian section in Cgrm 582a: 147-61.

5. Vulcanius points out that he received the material from Joseph J. Scaliger.

6. In the manuscript lines are of course not numbered, the numbers are mine.

7. Compare Georg N. Knauer. 1954. sarabara (Dan. 3.94(27] bei Aug. mag. 10,33-11,37). Ciotta 33: ioof. [10.35: 'sarabara understood as 'tegmina capitum', coverings of heads, see pp. 107. 115-18 (re-issued in Knauer, Georg N., 1987, Three studies. New York: Garland).

8. Only a few references were added after September 1999.


Ascoli, Graziadio Isaia. 1865. Zigeunerisches. Halle: Heynemann.

Borde, Andrew. [1542]. Egypt and theyr mony and theyr speche. The fyrst boke of the introduction of knowledge, chapter 38. London: Lothbury, fol. N.ii.r [online versions STC I Reel 177: 8]. In: Crofton, Henry Th. 1907/08. Horde's Egipt speche. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. Second Series i: 157-68, facs. facing p. 164; ed. James Hogg. 1979. In: Analecta Cartusiana 92 (Salzburg): vol. 2, 99f.

Boretzky, Norbert. 1993. Bugurdzi: deskriptiver und historischer Abriss eines RomaniDialekts. Berlin: Osteuropa-Institut der Freien Universität Berlin, Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen 21. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Boretzky, Norbert, and IgIa, Birgit. 1994. Wörterbuch Romani, Deutsch, Englisch, mit einer Grammatik der Dialektvarianten. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

___ ___2004. Kommentierter Dialektatlas des Romani. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Buck, Carl Darling. 1949. A dictionary of selected synonyms in the principal IndoEuropean languages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Çelebi, Evliya. 1668. In: Victor A. Friedman and Robert Dankoff. 1991. The earliest known text in Balkan (Rumelian) Romani: A passage from Evliya Çelebi's Seyahat-name. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society. Fifth Series 1(1): 1-20.

Colocci, Adriano. 1889. Gli Zingari, storia d'un popolo errante. Appendice IIa: Lessico Italiano-Tchinghianè [vocabulary collected in the Balkans 1855-87]. Turin: Loescher. 319-419.

Ewsum, Johan van. <i5/o. Clena gypta sprake. In: Albert Kluyver, ed. 1910/11. Un glossaire tsigane du seizième siècle. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Fourth series: 131-42, facsim.

Gypsy Lore Society [no author]. 1930. Vuícanius' Romani vocabulary. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Third series 3: 16-25 (see also below at Vulcanius).

Hancock, Ian. 1995. On the migration and affiliation of the Domba: Iranian words in Rom, Lorn and Dom Gypsy. In: Matras, Yaron, ed. Romani in contact: The history, structure and sociology of a language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 25-51.

Igla, Birgit. 1996. Das Romani von Ajia Varvara: Deskriptive und historisch-vergleichende Darstellung eines Zigeunerdialekts. Berlin: Osteuropa- Institut der Freien Universität Berlin, Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen 29. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Kluge, Friedrich. 1901. Rotwelsch: Quellen und Wortschatz der Gaunersprache. Strasbourg: Trübner (see also below at Vulcanius).

Leschber, Corinna. 1995. Romani lexical items in colloquial Romanian. In: Matras, Yaron, ed. Romani in contact: The history, structure and sociology of a language [Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science 126]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 151-76.

Marsden, William. 1785. Observations on the language of the people commonly called Gypsies. In: Archaeologia (Society of Antiquaries of London) 7. London: 382-86.

Matras, Yaron. 2002. Romani: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Miklosich, Franz. 1984 [1874]. Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Zigeunermundarten I. Leipzig [Sitzungsberichte Akademie Wien 77, 3. Heft: 765-71] (see also below at Vulcanius).

Paspati, Alexandros Georgios [Paspates]. 1973 [1870]. Etudes sur les Tchinghianés ou Bohémiens de l'Empire Ottoman. Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag [Constantinople: Koroméla].

Pott, August Friedrich. 1964. Die Zigeuner in Europa und Asien, Ethnographischlinguistische Untersuchung vornehmlich ihrer Herkunft und Sprache, nach gedruckten und ungedruckten Quellen I-II (first pubi. 1844-45). Halle: Heynemann.

Sailley, Robert. 1979. Vocabulaire fondamental du Tsigane d'Europe. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose.

Sampson, John. 1926. The dialect of the Gypsies of Wales. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Sowa, Rudolf von. 1966. Wörterbuch des Dialekts der deutschen Zigeuner. Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 11.1 (first pubi. 1898.) Leipzig: Brockhaus.

Uhlik, Rade. 1941-3. Bosnian Romani: Vocabulary, ed. Frederick George Ackerley, Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society Third series, 20, 78-84. 100-40 [a-f\; 21 (1942), 24-55 [g-l]· 110-41 [m-r]; 22 (1943), 3^-47 [s-s]. 107-19 [t-z].

Ventzel, Tatjana Vladimorovna. 1983. The Gypsy language. Languages of Asia and Africa. Moscow: Nauka Publishing House.

Vulcanius, Bonaventura. 1597. De literis et lingua Getarum sive Gothorum . . . quibus accesserunt specimina variar urn linguarum. Lugduni Batavorum [Leiden]: Plantin. 100-5; Schakgim quoted here: Gypsy Lore Society [no author]. 1930 (see above). The list was printed first with notes by Miklosich, 1874 (rpt. 1984; see above), also in Kluge, 1901, ii3f., cf. Pott, 1964, 1.3-6.

Wolf, Siegmund. 1993. Grosses Wörterbuch der Zigeunersprache (romani tsiw), Wortschatz deutscher und anderer europäischer Zigeunerdialekte (first pubi. 1960). Mannheim: Biographisches Institut.

Author affiliation:

Georg N. Knauer is Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies in the Department of Classical Studies at University of Pennsylvania, 201 Cohen Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304, USA. Email:

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