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Sinti culture, language & the origin of the name Django

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  • Fascinating article. Jean-->Django makes sense to me. Regarding "schukar", Spanish gypsies encourage (female) dancers with the word "azucar" (sugar), but I believe "azucar" is of Arabic origin. Also, in Spanish "laud" means "lute", a stringed instrument/guitar ancestor.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,645
    "Django’s style of playing eventually became a folk music for the Sinti, and that is where the Gypsy aspect started to influence this swinging jazz music. That in itself, is worthy of an entire article of its own, so I will stop here. "

    So, Denis, can we look forward to THAT article? I for one would love to read it. And thanks for this one - your contributions to the worldwide gypsy jazz community are priceless.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,027
    Jazzaferri wrote: »
    Though I think you were over kind in leaving the name thing as open as you did.......

    Well, I try to be very careful with my statements. There was a time I was convinced I was 100% right but I don't have any irrefutable evidence to back my claims. Assuming that Patrick Williams is the first to come up with the notion that Django meant I awake, I d be curious to know how he came to such conclusions. He is, after all, one of the leading scholars on sinti culture. I have read a few of his articles. They're very well written.

    There was however one article where he transcribed Gypsy lyrics, and his grammar in certain songs was inconsistent, and in instances where the lyrics were publicly available (such as Titi Winterstein's songs), there were a few inconsistencies (minor ones) in his transcriptions.

    I have never been able to contact him, because there is no contact information that I could find, and I feel it would be at least wise to let him explain his reasoning.

    And also like I said there is a 70 yr gap in my research. I've tried to access certain seemingly useful documents but the people I tried to contact never replied.

    One scholar replied with an extremely generic response that was of no help to my research, when i tried to be more specific, he did not answer me...

    oh well, who knows! I'll keep digging... and if I find anything interesting , I'll be sure to have this article updated
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited August 2014 Posts: 1,332
    One of the coolest things I've ever seen here, Dennis, and I've seen some awfully cool stuff at this site over the years.

    I greatly enjoyed the charming personal digressions, and am appreciative of your respect and reverence for various gypsy languages and cultures.

    I must admit to being somewhat disappointed that you don't seem to be particularly proud to be a Canadian… (although I think I can speak for your fellow Canadians here in saying that we are very proud to claim you as one!) but OTOH, I was very happy to see you mention Eddie Lang and Oscar Aleman!

    It seems unlikely that we will ever have a definitive answer about Django's name, but in the meantime, I think your thesis is the most likely to be correct.

    I'm going to take the liberty of asking your opinion about several other aspects of language and culture vis-a-vis Django...

    1) Has your research led you to any theories about how Joseph got the nickname Nin-Nin?

    2) Was Django equally fluent in French and Romaines? Did he prefer one or the other?

    3) Listening to a radio interview with Django that was posted here a while back, his French sounded to my untrained ear to be quite acceptable standard-Parisian. I didn't detect any real 'foreign' accent…?

    4) Do we know at what point Django's family began speaking French? Is it possible that he and his brother grew up much like you and your brother, in a family in which elders/parent(s) spoke a foreign language which the children could understand, but usually chose to respond to in the "new" language? This seems to be a common pattern among many new immigrants.

    5) What relation, if any, does the name "Roma" have with the Italian city bearing the same name? Or the country known as "Romania"?

    Once again, thanks for this, Dennis. And FWIW, it seems likely to me that enthusiastic amateur linguists such as yourself are more likely to be helpful to us "Djangologists" than the professionals, who probably couldn't care less about the origins of some long-dead musician's name!

    Will
    Canadian/US citizen residing in Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON



    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    edited August 2014 Posts: 2,027
    Just to be clear! I am very thankful for my Canadian citizenship and very thankful for the freedoms and conveniences that people enjoy in many countries.

    Nonetheless, I have never understood nationalist sentiments. I remember going to school, and there were lots of immigrants, i distinctly the proud Greeks, with their constant Greece is number 1 slogans, and flags, etc.

    I am born to Taiwanese parents in French Canada, I had no choice in this and no say in this, it seems strange to me to be proud of something I had no control over.

    A good for nothing drug addict criminal can be born in the USA and enjoy the full privileges of being American just because he is born in American soil. A hard working immigrant might be denied a working visa in the USA, for multiple reasons, one of the major ones simply being that he was not born in the USA.

    I respect sentiments of pride where for example a refugee escapes oppression and comes to Canada or the USA and builds a very successful life here, and feels extremely thankful for the opportunities and liberties enjoyed here.

    Just by looking at my newsfeed and looking at the names of people posting about the middle east conflict, i can tell who's pro-palestine and pro-israel.. Those with jewish names are generally pro-isreal and will write generally good arguments about why people should side with isreal (however, they conveniently leave out good arguments from the other side); then you have people with arabic names writing the exact same thing but from their point of view... both sides have great arguments and both sides conveniently leave out the "bad stuff".... And then there is a (unfortunate) minority who realize that things are much more complicated than x vs y. If we as human beings can be truly open minded (it is not an easy thing to do), we can achieve a lot of things, and i firmly believe that peace and understanding would be within our grasps..

    Well that's just my opinion.
    kevingcoxArcticguitarMatt MitchellAmundLauritzenJon
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,027
    1) Has your research led you to any theories about how Joseph got the nickname Nin-Nin?

    I had read something about the origin of that name long ago, but i can't remember from where.

    2) Was Django equally fluent in French and Romaines? Did he prefer one or the other?

    Don't know, but it would seem most likely that he was fluent in Romanes. Alain Antonietto says that Django is a gatschekeno sinto, that is a gypsy from germany. When did his parents start living in France? I don't know.. this could be interesting to know! From what I understand, although Django was belgian born , his parents had made their home France; for how long, I don't know. With the intermarrying and traveling, it's hard to attach a country of origing to a Gypsy. Lulu Reinhardt is associated with the German school of GJ and he spent most of his life in Germany, but he was born in Forbach, France (where dorado schmitt lives), where his brother Geisela still lives. When I met Lulu at his home, I spoke to him in French, and his French was definitely authentic.

    3) Listening to a radio interview with Django that was posted here a while back, his French sounded to my untrained ear to be quite acceptable standard-Parisian. I didn't detect any real 'foreign' accent…?

    Well Django didn't speak much, and yes his French sounded fine. A lot of Sinti nowadays for whatever reason, when they speak French have a bit of a foreign accent. It's generally only detectable by French people as it's quite subtle. You can hear it when Tchavolo Schmitt speaks for example. When Bamboula Ferret sings in French , you can hear it as well. As far as I know Django didn't speak that way, neither did his son Babik.

    4) Do we know at what point Django's family began speaking French? Is it possible that he and his brother grew up much like you and your brother, in a family in which elders/parent(s) spoke a foreign language which the children could understand, but usually chose to respond to in the "new" language? This seems to be a common pattern among many new immigrants.

    Like I said, I don't know, but it would seem likely that Django's first language was Romanes. As to what language Django himself preferred , I really don't know. An anthropologist would be able to give a more educated guess considering that the situation for Gypsies in the early 20th century is much different than it is today.

    Anyway, like I said, I am open to the possibility that Django could indeed come from I awake... @Stuart, thank you for
    Patrick Williams' contact information! I will try to ask him and hopefully this could solve the mystery. It s only fair that he at least gets to tell his side of the story! Again, this man is a true scholar, and I am in no way trying to bring him down!
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Denis, you took the words right off of my keyboard.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,645
    Django also apparently spoke some Italian. I seem to recall that he relied sometimes on an Italian gentleman of his acquaintance to translate for him while he was in New York. Can't locate the source, however.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • And I think a bit of English. Musicians in Europe, like many others who travel from country to country and who have a good ear, tend to pick up bits of other languages, mostly I suspect just to be able to get or find a few places/things. If they are exposed enough times, some of it will stick.

    When I was in Barcelona. I learned a few phrases of Catalan just for the fun of it. Can't remember it easily now but if I went back I suspect it wouldn't take too much. Same for my execrable Spanish.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 2,431
    Not only did you write a brilliant article on the origins of Django name, but you're doing an important work of bringing understanding to the much too often misunderstood Gypsy culture and better understanding will lead to less myths, prejudice and discrimination towards these people.
    Thanks Dennis
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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