The Romanian Gheorghe Sarau, self-declared father of the Romani language? How did a teacher of the Hungarian language become a self-declared professor of the Romani language? We will analyze the facts as they were told by the man himself, last year in the Romanian Academy on the occasion of the provisional launch of Romane Ghilea, edited by Julieta Rotaru. Mr. Sarau stated that he had taught himself the Romani language from Barbu Constantinescu’s writings of 150 years ago. He said that he then ploughed through Romanian libraries, reading about the Romani language. I heard these words spoken by Sarau himself, right then in the Romanian Academy.
However, did no-one before Gheorghe Sarau, over the course of 150 years, read the various books describing the Romani language? Did no other Romanians teach themselves Romani? Did any of them feel entitled to declare themselves Professors of Romani Language just because they had read those books? My question is, however, more based upon looking at the history of this language.
Thus, from 1547 to 1900, a number of non-Roma have written descriptive treatises on the grammar of the Romani language. None of them, even though almost all of them were professors, declared themselves Doctors of the Romani language, nor did they have the effrontery to declare themselves teachers or to open a school. Why not? (a) because the Roma have never asked for the creation of a Romani language school, and (b) out of modesty.
The lack of any traditional school of Romani language implies the illegitimacy of any diplomas awarded by a Romanian.
In their history, the Roma have never created a school of linguistics of our countless dialects, more than 1000 of them! So then how can Gheorghe Sarau, a Romanian, be given the right by Professor Lucia Wald to be a Doctor of Spoitori Romani? Mr. Sarau taught HIMSELF Romani from a book! He says he has decoded the grammar of the language. Seriously? Well, Romani has over 1000 dialects. No Roma know more than two, maximum three, of them. Did that book read by Mr. Sarau include all of the Romani dialects?
Lack of evaluation of Doctorate by traditional Roma authority
Confirmation (1) of Gheorghe Sarau’s doctorate was not made by the only traditional Roma institution, KRIS ROMANI, or the Roma Court. Of course, in the halls of the universities the Roma do not have what they require. But even so, a RESEARCH INSTITUTE is needed in which, for at least 20 years, native Romani speakers of different dialects would study them, along with the 30 major Indian – Aryan and Dravidian – languages, both dead and living. Only then would it be possible to build up a complete view of the birth and evolution of the Romani language, and its relationship to the family structure of Aryan languages.
The only confirmation of Gheorghe Sarau’s doctorate was made by non-Roma teachers, mainly by his doctoral supervisor, Professor Lucia Wald, a professor of philology, whose main occupation is, according to Wikipedia, to be a supervisor of doctoral students (2) At the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Bucharest. As far as I know, her contribution to Romani language and Romani linguistics amounts to the publication of a one short text in Romani, a few lines, in the book “What Languages are Spoken around the World”. The text appears on pages 116-117 of this book:
Sas ek raji phiuli haj sas lek raklo haj mardaspeste angusti and o părete haj phendou- She was a widow who had a son. He thrust his ring in the wall and said ...
She also quoted a German writer who wrote that Roma are Aryans in “Introduction to the Study of Indo-European Language and Culture”. That’s it. If this distinguished lady wrote anything else, I do not know, because I did not get tired of searching. Mrs. Lucia Wald is credited in the bibliography of Gheorghe Sarau’s PhD, even with “Introduction to the Study of Indo-European Culture and Culture”, which is a work written by Lucia Wald together with Dan Sluşanschi. But the lady is said to be an Indo-European specialist. The term Indo-European is extremely vague, uncertain, being a convention, a term invented by 18th-century linguists who noticed that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin resemble each other. Mrs. Lucia Wald is neither Romni nor Ţiganca. The fact that she wrote a paper on Indo-European linguistics cannot be a good argument for being a doctoral supervisor in the language of the Spoitori Roma, the topic of Gheorghe Sarau’s doctorate. If it is the dialect of the Spoitori Roma, then Mr. Gheorghe Sarau should ask the Spoitori Roma if they agree that should be a teacher of their dialect. The only scientific criterion to certify the knowledge of the Spoitori dialect would be the community of Spoitori Roma. There was no vote of the Romanian Spoitori on whether to accept his doctorate and his title of Professor. The title of Doctor has no place in our discussion.
On what doctrinal basis was Gheorghe Sarau declared a doctor of Romani?
If you were to ask a Kalderash Rom if he understood an Ursar or a Spoitor, his answer would be that he did not. I am Kalderash and speak as someone who did not understand the dialect of the Ursari or the Spoitori until the age of 20. In practice, from the point of view of an Ursar, the Romani language of the Kalderash does not exist, and vice versa. Likewise, it is believed that Romani speakers have over 1000 different dialects, some completely unstudied and unknown. No one in the world has researched all of the Romani dialects. However, a professor at the Sorbonne, Mr. Marcel Courthiade DESTROYED the dialects of the Roma. How? He realized that it was impossible to study them all, and he invented a theory, called the pompous paradigm, completely unscientific, because he had not researched enough among the Indian languages.
Thus, Mr. Marcel Courthiade creates a dogma that the oldest and best dialects are those whose speakers say ‘pani’ – water, ‘phirdiom’ – I walked, and ‘kuni’ – elbow. Those who say ‘pai’, ‘phirdem’ and ‘kui’, would be speakers of new dialects, which are not correct, because in India water is ‘pani’, as the Ursari say, not ‘pai’ as the Kalderash say.
Based upon this theory, which I have proven to be inconsistent with Indian linguistics, Mr. Gheorghe Sarau declares himself to be a specialist in the dialects of the Roma and, following this theory, selects only those Romani terms and grammatical forms that to him seem more correct, entirely guided by the magnetic north of the compass created by Marcel Courthiade’s theory. The result is an eclectic language that no Romanian Rom understands. The language invented by Gheorghe Sarau is not understood in the Roma communities, which speak thousands of dialectal variants. In fact, there are so many Romani dialects in Romania and so many Roma settlements, that in some settlements there are Roma speaking as many as 4 out of 10 different dialects. The theory has been accepted as long as no one has contradicted it. I have found that it is erroneous: even in Sanskrit, there exists the pronunciation ‘pai’ as well as ‘pani’ for the noun ‘water’. I published my discovery in the Yearbook of the Prahova Society of General Anthropology, no. 2 of 2016. I presented it at the launch of anthropology publications (3) to researchers from the Institute of Anthropology of the Romanian Academy and to other Romanian researchers from various fields of study.
From that moment on, the dogmatic foundation of the invention of an international Romani language, based only on Marcel Courthiade’s theory of strata, had no further linguistic value.
The theory of strata is presented as the basis of Gheorghe Sarau’s PhD, on page 11, published by Bucharest University Press, 1998, titled The Dialect of Spoitori Roma in Romania.
Mr. Gheorghe Sarau indirectly acknowledges that I am right. Here is his email dated January 22, 2017:
A tip for you in life:
Do not demolish what you see around you made by others! Build something nearby, and what was already there and was considered special will be in the shadow of what you built and which people will say is something splendid. We do not succeed by eliminating the forerunners, the others, the competitors, but by insinuating ourselves – through our correct, sustained work – into the fire of the competition! Gheorghe Sarău
The common Romani language invented by Gheorghe Sarau on the basis of strata theory does not exist
Correct, it doesn’t exist. It was invented by one man, Gheorghe Sarau, based on Marcel Courthiade’s erroneous theory. No Romanian Roma speak the language invented by Sarau.
Why was a Romani department at the University of Bucharest needed?
So that the Romanian Roma in Romania could be made to attend Mr. Gheorghe Sarau’s school. So that he could make them professors of Romani! He, a Romanian who learned Romani as an adult, can make them, native speakers of Romani learned from their elders, teachers of a language invented by him?
Yet, every year, people come from all over the country to summer schools set up by Mr. Gheorghe Sarau to learn Romani. Some are non-Roma, driven by curiosity, others by interest, and others, Romanian citizens without a future.
In practice, millions of Roma in the world are persuaded due to Courthiade’s theory of layers, and due to the doctorate given by Lucia Wald, that Gheorghe Sarau knows the more than 1000 Romani dialects better than the ancestors of the modern Roma who have passsed them down to their unworthy sons who blindly accept the dazzling brilliance of the theory of strata.
The result of Mr. Gheorghe Sarau’s diploma based on Courthiade’s theory and approved by Lucia Wald
No traditional Roma parents would let their children learn a language that was incomprehensible, not heard at home from the grandparents, and which is invented by a Romanian, i.e. Gheorghe Sarau. Thus, the Ministry of Education counts on the faculty led by Gheorghe Sarau to educate Roma youngsters in their language, so that they become integrated into multi-cultural Romanian society, not knowing that this outcome is unattainable, because Gheorghe Sarau invented a non-existent Romani language, not understood by any Roma … because the Roma have dialects very different in pronounciation and even vocabulary.
The Transylvanian School (Scoala Ardeleana) was not a model in the development of a literary Romani language, nor the theory of strata published by Courtiade, another non-Rom. Gheorghe Sarau knew that the Romani language had to be researched in relation to 30 Indian languages, as he recalled in his work, “Roma, India and Romani Language”, but he did not know that the dialects of the Roma were born in their true spoken form in India, taking on the colours of the Indian dialects. This fact I discovered, researching the 30 Indian languages in comparison with various Romani dialects. I communicated my discovery to Mr. Sarau right inside the precincts of the Romani faculty in the presence of his students, and he was very pleased. But after the disputes between us about linguistics, here he tells me, he, the Romanian, me, the native speaker of Romani, whose grandmother, Sânziana, was 100 years old when I was 6, and taught me Romani:
Stop spitting, man! Do it for yourself, just like I did in my own life! Do you have no shame? Do you not fear God?
Where do you get these lies?
Go, man, and do your studies of philology and learn to get yourself trained, guided, oriented, so you do not stay a dilettant.
This advice was given to me, in response to my article, GHEORGHE SARAU AND THE BOW, OR HOW I MET HIM, Issue no. 2382 of July 9, 2017, erased from confluente.ro following his threats.
Dilettant! Me … native speaker of Romani. Me, the one who demonstrated the flawed theory on which his school is based ….
Courthiade’s theory further postulates that the Romani dialects have undergone fresh transformations following the exodus from India over the thousand years spent in Europe. Thus, he says, that’s why the Kalderash Roma say ‘pai’ instead of ‘pani’, that they have lost their pronunciation in Europe. But in Sanskrit, I pointed out, it is also said that way. The theory has collapsed, Courthiade’s Doctorate is erroneous, the doctorate of Sarau likewise.
The conclusion is that we have no right to create a common Romani language, we cannot intervene in the natural evolution of the Romani dialects, dialects that are a cultural treasure of Mother India, the Holy Mother of the Roma.
On this occasion, I declare, in accordance with the eternal law of the Roma, respected in India, KRIS ROMANI, that we can not recognize Marcel Courthiade and Gheorghe Sarau as teachers of Romani language.
The judgment of my doctorate took place in an interview I gave to Radio Romano, Sweden, on the question of destroying Marcel Courthiade’s theory of strata:
The writer is native Doctor of the Romani language, a founding member of the first linguistics school in the Indian tradition, the Indo-Romani Vidyalaya, and is known by the Romanian name of Cîrpaci Marian Nuţu, and by the name Rai Thagar Pakivalo, adopted in honor of my Indian ancestors.
Translated from the Romanian language by Doctor in Romani linguistics, Natalia Ivend, founder of IRV, Indo-Romani Vidyalaya.