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      * Gipsy
      · Blume
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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1820 to 1823 > Gipsy

In reference to one part of it, that which regards the manner in which Mezzofanti acquired the gipsy language—viz., "that he learned it from a gipsy soldier in one of the Hungarian regiments quartered at Bologna," it is proper to observe, that he appears also, towards the end of his life, to have studied this dialect from books. The catalogue of his library contains two Gipsy Grammars, one in German, and one in Italian. The peculiar idiom of this strange language in which he himself was initiated, is that which prevails among the gipsies of Bohemia and Hungary, or rather Transylvania, which is the purest of all the European gipsy dialects, and differs considerably from that of the Spanish gipsies. Borrow has given a short comparative vocabulary Note 1 of both, and has also printed the Pater Noster in the Spanish gipsy form.

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Note 1
Borrow's Gipsies in Spain, p. 240. Ample specimens and descriptions of it are given by Adelung, vol. I. p.p. 244-52. It may, perhaps, be necessary to add that neither of these dialects, nor indeed of any of the dialects used by European gipsies, bears the least resemblance (although often confounded with it) to the " thieves' slang," which is used by robbers and other mauvais sujets in various countries,—the "Rothwalsch" (Red Italian) of Germany, the (i Argot" of France, the " Germania" of Spain, and the st Gergo" of Italy. All these, like the English c* slang," consist chiefly of words borrowed from the languages of the several countries in which they prevail, applied in a hidden sense known only to the initiated. On the contrary the gipsy Jdiom is almost a language properly so called. See a singular chapter in Borrow's Gipsies in Spain, 242-57. For a copious vocabulary of the •"Argot" of the French thieves, see M. Nisard's most curious and amusing Lilterature du Colportage, II. 383-403.

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