ROMi represents a specific subcorpus of CZESL (Czech as a Second Language). It collects examples of language use, both spoken and written, of Czech Romani children and teen-agers. The range of materials exceeds 1,5 million words.

 

Language Material

The material presents uses of spoken language by language-specific group of Romani speakers using Czech as their first language. However, this form of the language is specifically different from Czech as used by the Czech-speaking majority, both on the spoken and secondarily on the written level. It concerns the so-called Romani ethnolect of Czech, i.e. a variety of Czech used by Romani communities mainly in the Czech Republic. We may detect obvious influence of Romani, Slovak and Hungarian. Furthermore, many of the recorded speakers live in social exclusion and thus their language production is influenced by both factors, i.e. by Romani ethnolect and social exclusion.

 

The language material was collected in the years 2009 – 2012 under the Education for Competitiveness Operational Programme, within the framework of the project Innovations of Czech as a Second Language Education collaboratively by the Technical University of Liberec and the Institute of Czech Language and Theory of Communication, Faculty of Arts, Charles University. The language material was processed with support of Institute of Formal and Applied Linguistics - project LINDAT-Clarin.

 

It concerns 50 recordings obtained in various environments – the collection of material took place both in schools and also in several non-profit organizations offering leisure time activities to Romani students. Apart from the school setting, the recordings thus come from the environment of extracurricular activities, sport matches and households. Both the respondents and the collectors are Romani. The samples were acquired in all regions of the Czech Republic, although the majority of recordings were obtained in the Central Bohemia, South Bohemia, Ústí and Vysočina Region. The age of the respondents ranges from 13 to 24 years.

Corpus ROMi 01 represents 181 648 positions; 119 183 words; 15 351 replications and 142 speakers.

The collected samples are accompanied by metadata relating to the following areas:

  • The place of origin (the place of collection, the size of the residence and dialect area, region, environment (school, extracurricular, private); socially excluded locality.
  • The circumstances of the collection expressing the extent of control exercised by the collector (topic assigned/non-assigned).
  • The respondent (the age of the student; class/year; sex; type of the school; subjective knowledge of Romani; first language – the one the student considers to be his first; communicative environment in the family – which language(s) is/are used for communication in the family.
  • The place of data collection – in the case of schools metadata comprise characteristics of the type of school (primary, for students with special needs, remedial, vocational, secondary), the founder (state, church, private organisation), in the case of the place of individual collection of data you may find organisation, interest group markings, etc.
  • The collector (the abbreviation of collector´s name and his work area, in some cases also his age).

 

Delimiting the group of respondents

The respondents are constituted by students of primary schools, schools for students with special needs, secondary schools and by teenagers who have just completed the compulsory education. For the purposes of the language material collection, those students who consider themselves to be Romani or who are considered Romani by others were included to the sample. Moreover, a language criterion was added to this definition - thus those students in whose families Romani is spoken at home were also included. Active knowledge of the Romani language was not required since hardly a third of Romani children living in the Czech Republic nowadays is competent in this language.

 

Ethical aspects of the data collection and processing

As regards the content of the language material, it places demands on the data processing from the ethical point of view. Frequently, the texts and recordings feature highly interesting material; the respondents talk about their life stories fully distant or inconceivable for the social majority. During the transcription process, all materials are anonymized and identification data are removed.

 

Field Research

 

When dealing with the environment threatened by social exclusion, it is highly important to consider especially the needs and opportunities of the group members as well as the needs of those individuals, who find themselves or work in such an environment. During the developmental process of the corpus, we became decidedly convinced that it is necessary to accommodate different demands on material quality of texts and recordings and not to overburden both the respondents and the collectors with limiting or impossible requirements. Therefore, the corpus comprises several recordings of lower technical quality which were acquired in the presence of other persons, with the television turned on, etc. Firstly, the recordings would not even have come into existence under different circumstances – it is natural that the interviewing of younger children was taking place directly in their households, in the presence of their parents. Secondly, the recordings would have been made, yet they would have been influenced by the unnaturalness of the situation, consequently affecting the language material. Apart from the interviews with younger children, it regards especially those conversations between the collectros and their peers, e.g. inside leisure time clubs.

 

Characteristics of the recordings

The collected recordings come both from the school environment (especially conversations of teacher assistants with individual students) and from the leisure time facilities (interest groups, after-school tutoring). In most cases it concerns conversations of the collector and the individual, alternatively a pair of respondents. The length of the recordings differs, although the majority ranges from 20 to 35 minutes. A single recording approximately contains 2 495 words. The quality of recordings is influenced by the limits of field-utilizable technologies and the effort to increase authenticity to the maximum.

 

Transcription of the recordings

The rules for transcription of the recordings are based on similar ones designed for SCHOLA corpus. Transcriptions are carried out by the means of folkloristic transcription, i.e. the closest to the written record, especially adapted for the purposes of computational processing, following the practice established in the Czech National Corpus. The transcription is performed with the help of the Transcriber programme, which connects the sound and graphic track.