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F.A.Q.

(Under Construction)

Hard Head Area

Questions:


1. Are you an Irish Traveller?

2. I was wondering about how the children of Travelling families go to school. Do you home school them, or are they constantly switching schools.

3. Do Travellers live in campgrounds, like tents, or do you use trailers?

4. Recent articles in the media have highlighted the 'devout Catholicism' of Travellers and I began to wonder if there was a house-church system or if Travellers worship together with non-Travellers in churches wherever they may be.

5. I see your site has a lexicon, a codex of sorts, but you have made allusions to not revealing the Cant as currently spoken in the U.S.A. Surely there must be some resource for “lapsed” Travellers or half-Travellers or newly married-in Travellers whereby they may opt “in” on the life. Can you direct me to those resources?

6. You seem pretty cool in that you are actually encouraging use of Shelta and I was wondering if you might help me [learn Cant]?

Answers:

1. Are you an Irish Traveller?

I am half-Traveller by birth and understand the Irish Traveller Cant fairly well. I love my mother's family, as well as my father's, and stand with them in their troubles. So, yes, I am a Traveller.

2. I was wondering about how the children of Travelling families go to school. Do you home school them, or are they constantly switching schools.

I just don't have enough facts to give you a definitive statement. Most Traveller children these days receive an elementary education, at a minimum. I know of at least one who is a college student; there are certainly more among "settled" Travellers. Catholic schools are popular choices, especially for high schools.
Some other families are purely nomadic, transferring their school-age (the precise definition varies) children with each of usually two major family moves that take place during the school year. In others, only the father and older [male] children travel as commercial nomads, joined during the summer by the rest of the family. It's important to note that there are as many variations on those three themes as there are Irish Traveller families and even those teens who have no formal schooling beyond fourteen or fifteen [often] receive the equivalent of a trade school education working with their families. Traveller children mature into productive adults, as a rule, much sooner than those of Country People.

3. Do Travellers live in campgrounds, like tents, or do you use trailers?

I don't think Travellers have used tents or covered wagons since World War II, or maybe the Korean war for those dealing in mules and horses. Now we may use trailers or motels or furnished apartments, depending on how many and who of the family unit is on the road, length of stay, and personal preference. Many Travellers own their own homes, even if they spend a significant part of the year working on the road. Some of us live among you; some of us live apart in Traveller enclaves, almost all of us in peace and concord.

4. Recent articles in the media have highlighted the 'devout Catholicism' of Travellers and I began to wonder if there was a house-church system or if Travellers worship together with non-Travellers in churches wherever they may be.

In at least one small town's RC church, the worshipers are virtually all Irish Travellers who have settled. In the vast majority of cases, however, Travellers worship as ordinary members of the congregation, whether settled or on the move.

In the old days though, when I was a child, Irish Travellers were said to build small chapels at their campground conclaves and ask the local priest to say a private Sunday mass there for them. In return for that favor, they would feed him the biggest and best meal he had all week, and recompense the parish by repairing whatever damages the local church had suffered since their last sojourn in the area.

My older cousins still talk of the Country People waving at us in friendship as we came and went. Many of those hands are still raised, but oh, what a difference.

5. I see your site has a lexicon, a codex of sorts, but you have made allusions to not revealing the Cant as currently spoken in the U.S.A. Surely there must be some resource for “lapsed” Travellers or half-Travellers or newly married-in Travellers whereby they may opt “in” on the life. Can you direct me to those resources?

A "halfway trailer" for linguistically and culturally challenged would-be Travellers? An intriguing notion but no such facility or even social mechanism exists, to the best of my knowledge. I envy you your evident faculty for languages but still feel less than compelled to teach Cant to hobbyists, no matter how well intentioned and how well spoken they are.

[Then] what were you taught about not teaching others Cant?

What was I taught?
I was taught that the highest praise among Travellers (for Travellers and Country People alike) is "He (or she) tends to his (or her) own affairs." ITs feel that our language and our culture are private; the rest seem to put up with my (word play alert) "extrusions" because I'm honest, discreet, useful, don't put on airs and just as protective as they of the true
sancti sanctorum. Of course I might come off to some of them as an effete corps of Spiro's impudent snobs all by my lonesome but that's the price that's sometimes paid when half a Traveller acquires half an education and sets up an outlet such as Travellers' Rest for displaying his or her deficiencies.

6. While I was adopted, I was raised with at least the knowledge of my mother and father's ethnic backgrounds. My biological mother was Traveller.... I have been feeling a need to connect with the roots of my biological parents. And one of the things I have a strong desire to do is learn the languages, like Shelta and ______. You seem pretty cool in that you are actually encouraging use of Shelta and I was wondering if you might help me [learn Cant]?

I am sorry, but I am only comfortable sharing the IT Cant with other Travelers who already speak it and who are known to me or others of my family. The Cant words scattered throughout my fiction are already public knowledge from other sources and the Shelta Lexicon has been deliberately shorn of modern Cant. It's intended to serve only as a touchstone, perhaps to inspire and reinforce the rememberance of almost extinct Cant words and expressions among those who are already conversant with the language.

(To be continued)




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