In their native languages, each of the groups Rom, Romanichels, Cale, Sinti, Ludar, Romungre and others refer to themselves by a specific name, but most translate that name as "Gypsy" when speaking English. The distinct groups of Irish Travelers and Scottish Travelers do not refer to themselves as Gypsies, however. Each of these groups had its own cultural, linguistic, and historical tradition before coming to this country, and each maintains social distance from the others. They differ from one another in social organization: form of marriage, internal politics and social control.
With the exception of the Hungarian-Slovak musicians, Gypsy and Traveler groups share elements of economic organization. The Rom and Romnichels share an ideology which stresses the separation of pure from impure and Gypsy from non-Gypsy. The Rom, Romnichels, and Hungarian-Slovak musicians share a linguistic prehistory, but their ethnic languages are not, for practical purposes, mutually intelligible. The scattered and, for the most part, secondhand reports of Gypsies in North America before the middle of the 19th century, while frequently repeated, have not been examined critically nor verified independently. What has been demonstrated is that the present populations of North American Gypsies and Travelers date from immigrations of 1850 and thereafter.
The terms used here, Black Dutch, Ludar, Rom, and Romnichel, are those members of these groups use to refer to themselves. In keeping with linguistic convention, the term Romani (also spelled Romany in the literature) is used to refer to any or all of the Romani dialects or languages. We use "Gypsies" to refer to the totality of all groups except the Irish and Scottish Travelers, and where the identity of the group is unverified.
In some recent works the terms Rom, Roma and Romani (as a plural noun) have been used to refer to the totality of "Gypsy" groups, that is, to replace the term "Gypsies."