Catalonia was the Iberian gateway for the Roma and their presence in the Catalan region is documented from the 15th century. There is no doubt that the Roma have contributed to the current make-up of Catalan cultural identity, just like other communities which have come to Catalonia. The Romani community historically rooted in Catalonia has been repressed in two ways. Firstly, like the rest of Catalonia it suffered the centralist persecution of policies that prohibited or restricted the use of Catalan. The bond that Catalan Roma have with their own language is so strong that some groups of Roma living in Northern Catalonia have preserved the Catalan language from one generation to the next.
They are so rooted there that they often doubt whether they are speaking in Catalan or Romani. Then secondly, like any other ethnic Roma they have also suffered the persecution this community has been subjected to throughout history. Having two “prohibited” own languages made Catalan Roma careful, and rather than abandoning either of them they extolled both cultures within their own personality. The biculturalism of Catalan Roma obviously led to the two languages becoming mixed, with Romani vocabulary being used in Catalan grammar and this vocabulary also being influenced by Catalan phonetics. Furthermore, the Catalan language was enriched with the adoption of Roma words.
In the rest of the world Roma use the word gadjo to refer to a non-Roma, yet among Roma of Hispanic origin the term used is paio, very clearly of Catalan origin and adopted on their way through Catalonia and now spread throughout the country.