Spanish Roma protest label of "swindler" in dictionary
The New York Times reports that several groups representing Romani people in Spain launched a campaign on Wednesday, 8 April, International Romani Day, to remove a reference from a world-renowned dictionary of the Spanish language that mentions Roma as "swindlers". The Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) and other Spanish organizations delivered protest letters to members of the Royal Spanish Language Academy, which produces the dictionary.
The most recent print edition of the dictionary for 2014 presents the concept of "swindler" (in Spanish, "trapacero") as one of the definitions for the term "Gypsy" ("gitano"). According to Pilar Calon, spokesperson for the FSG, the campaign is striving to raise awareness of discrimination against Romani people in Spain.
The Academy would not comment on the protest except to say that the dictionary definition reflects contemporary usage and is by no means intended to be defamatory. The Academy says it has offered to change the upcoming online edition of the dictionary and to indicate that such usage is considered pejorative in that version.
Protests against the dictionary have been going on in Spain for several years now. The term "swindler" was discussed last year in relation to a complaint regarding the 22nd edition of the dictionary, in which the colloquial expression for a Romani person ("gitano") was defined as "someone who cheats or engages in fraud".
That concept is still part of the online edition of the dictionary. Calon said that members of the State Council of the Roma People (Consejo Estatal del Pueblo Gitano) hope to meet with members of the Academy soon to discuss the matter.
Spain's total population is approximately 47 million people. Roughly 750 000 of them are Romani.
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