Sunday, February 11, 2007

Damn furriners

A recent episode of House let me learn a new word, gadje, which is the word used by the Romani people (sometimes called "gypsies") to refer to outsiders. Like many other peoples who have been persecuted (or even some who haven't), the Romani have a strict "us and them" separation complete with a special word to use to refer to the "them" side.

Here are some similar words I know:
I can't imagine any good linguistic reason why these should all start with the same letter, and more significantly, the same phoneme. But I can't think of a single counterexample. Just a freak meaningless coincidence? Do you know a counterexample (or any more to add to the list)?


Frank said...

There is the Hierarchy of Alienness from Orson Scott Card's Ender Series.
I know this isn't legitimate linguistics, but it was the only thing I thought of. In increasing degree of strangeness to you other sentients are considered utlannings, framlings, ramen, or varelse.

Hawthorn Thistleberry said...

I suppose "flatlander" doesn't count either.