Gypsy (or Gipsy) is a word that has several overlapping meanings. Initially the word was used to describe a people who called themselves Romany who first appeared in England at about the beginning of the 16th century. Although in certain contexts it is still used to describe the Romany, it also describes those in English speaking countries who live a lifestyle similar to that of the Romany, or as a translation of equivalent words in other languages.
In time, the use of the term Gypsy was extended to other ethnic groups, perceived as fitting its stereotypes, like nomadic people of European or South Asian origin, also various ethnic groups in South-East Asia, known as Sea Gypsies. Colloquially, it names also any person perceived as fitting the Gypsy stereotypes.
There are independent groups currently working toward standardizing the Romany language, including groups in Romania, Serbia, the USA, and Sweden.
A standardized form of Romany is used in Serbia. In Serbia's autonomous province of Vojvodina, Romany is one of the officially recognized minority languages—having its own radio stations and news broadcasts.
In Romania, the country with the largest identifiable Roma population, there is now a unified system for teaching the Romany language for all dialects spoken in the country. This is primarily a result of the work of Gheorghe Sarău, who made Romany textbooks for teaching Roma children.
Despite various standardization efforts, the overall trend in Romany literacy is towards regional codification, with some degree of international orientation, in the choice of some graphemes as well as vocabulary.