The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #23696   Message #264957
Posted By: Áine
26-Jul-00 - 10:18 AM
Thread Name: Whistling Gypsy - prejudice?
Subject: RE: BS: Whistling Gypsy
Thank you very much for the 'CNP', paddymac.

The version of 'Whistling Gypsy' that I learned was in Irish, and titled 'An Spailpín Fánach'. Now 'spailpín' is the word for an itinerant farm worker in Ireland, whose life was full of hard physical labor, low wages and maltreatment by landowners. Even the word 'spailpíín' came to mean a person of low character, which is also, of course, the common stereotypical image of the Irish Travelers and the Roma.

I don't know which language the song was originally written in, but I find it interesting that the Irish language version does not call the young fella a 'tincéir' (Tinker/Gypsy), but a 'spailpín' (traveling farm worker). So, looking at the song in Irish, it doesn't seem to me that it should be considered particularly prejudiced or 'racist'.

-- Áine