"Traveller" in Great Britain is the politically-correct name used for "gipsy". They call themselves "Rom" or "Romany".
However, in Ireland they don't have gipsies, they have "tinkers". As in Britain, they are nowadays called "Travellers", and "tinker" is felt to be pejorative. They are similar in many ways, but are not ethnically Rom.
They are a very small minority group in Ireland, making up less than 1% of the population with approximately 23,000 people in the Republic and another 1,500 in the North. It is also estimated that there are about 15,000 Irish travellers in Britain and another 7,000 in the USA. Irish Travellers belong to a distinct ethnic group within Ireland. They have their own language, beliefs and social customs which have been made stronger over time due to their exclusion and marginalisation from mainstream society.
There are a number of theories as to their origin. Their secret language, Shelta, and the evidence of various historical references to them would seem to indicate that they are the remnants of an ancient class of wandering poets, joined by those who were pushed off the land during different times of upheaval such as Cromwell's invasion of Ireland, the Battle of the Boyne and the Battle of Aughrim. Many of them may also be the descendants of people who were left homeless as a result of the potato famines of the nineteenth century.
Most of the Travellers' traditional crafts such as spoon-mending, tinsmithing and flower-making have died out nowadays. Their horses have been switched for cars and trucks, but they still have their distrust of banks; they still insist on paying with wads of cash.
Interestingly, I could find very little on the web about gypsies. I remember when I was a little girl, every so often "a band of gypsies", as my parents would call them (not politically correct? If not, I apologize), would come to our area and spend a few days. Thanks, arnie, the info!
Never met an Irish Traveller or a gypsy for that matter. But a close second would be the "Dead Head's", the folks who travelled in their VW mini busses and followed the Greatful Dead when they were touring. I live near one of the major stadiums where the Dead played yearly. Going to the grocery store was always a trip for about a week before the concert. There would be people panhandling and selling flowers in the parking lot. I always wondered who's garden they stole the flowers from!
Gypsies, in bands or individually, are seldom seen in the U.S. outside of the largest metropolitan areas and rarely even there so the political correctness of the term is pretty much academic. As a sidenote, though, "to gyp" someone, meaning to swindle or short-change them, comes from the term "gypsy" and is still avoided by those who do not wish to inadvertently offend any sub-group.
Along similar lines, "to Jew someone down," meaning to haggle down a price, is one of the ugliest examples of political INcorrectness that is, astoundingly, accepted without the slightest flicker of an eyebrow by many Americans (and, I'm sure, others) who should damn well know better. The expression NEVER fails to prompt me to get into the speaker's face and tactfully as my self-control at the time will let me.
In one instance it was pointed out to me, by a much higher ranking African-American (I was in the Air Force at the time) that I shouldn't be offended by this term since I, myself, was not Jewish. I replied that I was not black either and yet I still took offense at "Nigger jokes." My supervisor nearly evacuated himself at his desk (see other thread for "evacuate") but I'm sure the point was well taken, not to mention remembered, by the officer I was addressing.
Long story short - If you don't stand up to ignorance, you proclaim to all on-lookers that you agree with it.
I wholly agree with you, CJ. Yet, one must be reasonable, too. For example, when I told a friend about your wonderful exclamation, Holy Sweet Jesus on a Moped, she said, "Well, be careful. You'll probably piss off the Christians and the Jews with it." I told her I'd take my chances.
quote: I told a friend about your wonderful exclamation, Holy Sweet Jesus on a Moped, she said, "Well, be careful. You'll probably piss off the Christians and the Jews with it." I told her I'd take my chances
Aw, hell! I love it! And I am christian, and my Jewish house guest this weekend kept repeating it with a laugh all weekend long!
Reasonable, yes, particularly when the offense is relatively minor. But other situations are without question clear cut. The incident I mention in which I not-so-tactfully corrected the much higher ranking individual has remained a favorite memory largely because, I strongly feel, I was so completely on target. And word definitely spread. While many thought I was out of my mind and quite a few others commended me (very privately) on my (let's be polite here) nerve, my reputation as someone who wouldn't tolerate B.S. of that sort was made and life was easier from then on. In that respect, anyway...
quote: Long story short - If you don't stand up to ignorance, you proclaim to all on-lookers that you agree with it.
This reminds me of the following:
First they came for the Jews. I was silent. I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists. I was silent. I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists. I was silent. I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me. There was no one left to speak for me. ~~Martin Niemöller (1946)