Blog 9: Romani Proverb Poetry

And’e čhib naj kokalo

“There are no bones in the tongue” (Yet the tongue can speak hard words) –Romani Proverb

from We are the Romani people by Dr. Ian Hancock


Most birds, however, do have boned tongues. Image Source:

This week you’re reading “Chapter 14 Amari Čhib: Our Language” of We are the Romani people and selecting a proverb to use in your poem (due Friday). Your blog responses (300 words minimum) will answer these questions:

1. How do proverbs reflect the Romani worldview? What is their purpose?

2. Which proverb did you chose to use in your poem and why?

The Romani language is especially beautiful and idiomatic, and as a writer, I find a lot of inspiration in it. For example, to say someone died of a cocaine overdose you’d say “Cocaine ate his head.” From Ronald Lee’s Learn Romani: Das-duma Rromanes

And expressing affection is always interesting–

In Romani when you tell someone that you love him you might say, ‘I eat your heart’ or ‘I eat your belly.’”

–Sarah Carmona, a leading historian of the Roma in Europe, in the New Yorker

“The colloquial greeting ‘te xav tirre jakha’ (‘let me eat your eyes’) is a sign of affection and of the need for protection.” —PURITY AND IMPURITY IN THE TRADITIONAL ROMANI FAMILY by Delia Grigore: Lecturer Rromani Language and LIterature Chair Oriental Languages Department


Delia Grigore, Image source:

Delia Grigore, Image source:

In your poem, you can use the proverb as an epigraph or quote it directly, much like your ars poetica poem. Play with the metaphors, images, and double meanings in your proverb and see what you can do!


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