Romani is a term that collectively designates the linguistic and cultural ethnic traits shared among over 12 million people who reside in many diverse countries throughout the world and who have often been referred to historically as "Gypsies". Romani peoples originated in India and resided for an extended period of time in ByzantineAnatolia (present-day eastern Turkey). Since then, they have migrated to and settled in Greece, the Balkans, all of Europe, Russia, Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Mexico and much of Latin America, as well as Australia. Fluency in one or more of almost 80 dialects that comprise the Romani language varies, but the adoption of contemporary technologies has rekindled interest in learning the language and brought opportunities to communicate over national boundaries as never before. Romani peoples identify not only with one another but with the many diverse societies and nations in which they are citizens and with whom they have interacted over the centuries. As citizens of diverse nation-states, they speak national languages as well as Romani. "Romani Studies" as an academic discipline of study emerged first as a specific area of research within Linguistics. It has since developed into a dynamic domain that embraces perspectives and methodologies from other disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, ethnography, political science, migration studies, diaspora studies, cultural studies, music and history. Romani peoples currently constitute the largest minority group in the European Union.
The Romani language has been spoken, to greater and lesser degrees, within families and communities since departure from India 1000 years ago. Historically, folklorists and researchers in contact with Romani communities devised some of the earliest word lists, vocabularies, grammar descriptions and dictionaries, published in various languages for a variety of dialects. More comprehensive dictionaries compiled by Romani themselves have recently begun to emerge, for example through Magoria Books publisher in Canada.
The language is now taught in different settings throughout the world: university programs, primary and secondary school classes, cultural and community centers, workshops and summer camps. Pedagogical materials exist in Romani and in translation. They are increasing in number due to escalating interest in learning the language, a fundamental aspect in the expression of pride in Romani identity.