Norwegian and Swedish Travellers

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The Norwegian, Finnish & Swedish Romani Travellers (Norwegian: romanifolket, tatere, sigøynere; Swedish: resande, zigenare, tattare; Scandoromani: romanisæl, romanoar, rom(m)ani, tavringer/ar, tattare) are a group or branch of the Romani people who have been resident in Norway, Finland, and Sweden for some 400 years.[1] The estimated number of Romani Travellers is 65,000,[2] while in Norway, the number is probably less than 10,000.[3]


By history and culture, they are related to British Romani Groups, such as English Romanichals, Welsh Kale, and Scottish Romanichals[4]

Modern-day Romani Travellers are the descendants of the first Romanies who arrived in Scandinavia during the 16th century. Most were deportees from Britain to Norway,[5][6] but some came via Denmark.[7] Norwegian and Swedish Romani identify as Romanisæl, this word has origins in the Angloomani word Romanichal, Romanichal is the word English and Scottish Romani use to identify themselves with.

A related group are the Finnish Kale, descendants of early Scandinavian Romanies who were deported in the 17th century from Sweden proper to Finland.[8] The Finnish Kale, however, maintain that their ancestors had originally come from Scotland,[9] They and other Scandinavian Travellers are related to present-day Romanichals of England and Scotland.

Romani Travellers in Norway at times have been confused with the indigenous Norwegian Travellers, although they perceive the latter group to be non-Romanies by culture and origins.

Names for the group

By the settled majority population, the Norwegian Travellers are known as Romanifolk or the exonym tatere, and in Sweden they used to be called the similar exonym tattare, but are named officially under the term Roma today, while the endonyms in use are "dinglare" or " resande". Norwegian travellers most often use the endonyms "reisendes" or "vandriar". Both exonymous terms hint to the original misconception that these people were Tatars. Before the turn of the 20th century, the majority population made little distinction between tatere/tattare and "Gypsies" (Norwegian: sigøynere; Swedish: zigenare);[10] this situation changed mainly due to the arrival of Kalderash Roma from Russia and Central Europe in the last decades of the 19th century, to whom the latter term came to be applied almost exclusively.

Skojare was a former name for Travellers in Sweden;[11] in Norway skøyere was associated with indigenous Travellers. Fant was another term formerly applied to both Romani and non-Romani Travellers in southern Norway and some parts of Sweden. All these terms nowadays are considered pejorative due to their connotation of vagabondage and vagrancy.[12]

In Sweden, tattare is now considered a disparaging term and has been completely abandoned in official use. Since 2000 Swedish Travellers are officially referred to as resande (Travellers), and counted as one of several groups within the "Roma" national minority. They often refer to themselves as resandefolket (Travelling people), or dinglare. Less common is the term tavringar. In recent years there has been an attempt to term Swedish Travellers as tschiwi, but this usage is contested.

For Norwegian Travellers, however, the name tatere is severely disputed. For one part it does not carry the same stigma as in Sweden, the counterpart has for many years fought for the same rights as swedish romani; some Traveller organizations maintain this term in their official names. In Norway the Travellers are categorized as a national minority group, officially referred to as romanifolk ortatere, reisende (Travellers). Norwegian Travellers refer to themselves by various names, such as romany, romanoar, romanisæl, vandriar (Wanderers), etc. In contrast to Sweden, in Norway a distinction is made between romanifolket and rom (i.e., Roma groups that arrived since the 19th century) in the official legislation on national minorities.[citation needed]


The Travellers in Sweden and Norway speak a form of the Romani language referred to as Scandoromani. Many words of the Nordic Romani origin have survived in the Scandinavian languages, both in common speech and slang.[13] Examples:

  • Tjej, meaning "Girl" in Swedish (originally slang, but now a popular alternative to the older flicka)
  • Puffra, meaning "Gun" in Swedish (used to be common slang)
  • Hak, meaning "Place" (as in "Joint" or "Establishment") in Swedish (common slang)
  • Vischan, meaning "The countryside" (as in boondocks or rural areas) in Swedish (common slang)


Romani Travellers in Sweden and Norway have founded organisations for preserving their culture and lobbying for their collective rights. One example is Föreningen Resandefolkets Riksorganisation, based in Malmö, Sweden.[14]


Romani Posten (also Romaniposten, The Romani Post; ISSN 0809-8379) was a news magazine for the Romani Traveller community in Norway. It had no political or religious affiliation, and published articles in Norwegian. At its most frequent, it came out eight times per year. On 6 September 2003, it was founded as an on-line publication; the first print edition was published in October 2006. Jone Pedersen was the founding publisher and editor-in-chief. As of 2007, it had ceased publication.[15]


  1. ^ "Norwegian, Traveller". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  2. ^ "romer - Uppslagsverk - NE". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  3. ^ "Parliamentary Assembly - Documents, Working papers- 2002 Ordinary Session (second part), 22-26". Strasbourg Cedex, FR: Council of Europe Online Bookshop. April 2002. p. 45. ISBN 9789287149176. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  4. ^ Eltzler. Zigenarna och deras avkomlingar i Sverige (Uppsala 1944) cited in: Angus. M. Fraser. The Gypsies (The Peoples of Europe) p120
  5. ^ "Luton government website" (PDF). Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Norwegian, Traveller". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Romani, Tavringer". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  8. ^ "National Minorities of Finland, The Roma — Virtual Finland". Archived from the original on 19 February 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Romani, Kalo Finnish". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  10. ^ Cf. Tater in Danish Wikipedia.
  11. ^ S.v. "Skojare", Gösta Bergman, Ord med historia (Stockholm: Prisma, 2003), pp. 536–7.
  12. ^ Cf. Skojare from Svenska Akademiens ordbok.
  13. ^ "Sidan kunde inte hittas på". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2017-06-14.
  14. ^ "Start - Resande Folket". Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Romani Posten, no. 6-2006, p. 2". Retrieved 14 June 2017.

Sources, further reading

  • Sundt, Eilert (1852). Beretning om Fante- eller Landstrygerfolket i Norge: Bidrag til Kundskab om de laveste Samfundsforholde (in Norwegian) (2nd ed.). Christiania: J. Chr. Abelsted. OCLC 7451358.
  • Hazell, Bo (2002). Resandefolket: Från tattare till traveller (in Swedish). Stockholm: Ordfront. ISBN 91-7324-682-4. OCLC 185986575.

External links

  • "Romani folkets Hemsida" [Romani People's Website]. (in Northern Sami). Retrieved 2018-04-11.
  • Nasjonale minoritetar i Noreg - Om statleg politikk overfor jødar, kvener, rom, romanifolket og skogfinnar (in Norwegian)
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