Definition 2024




Proper noun


  1. (Ireland) A language spoken by some Irish Travellers, particularly in Ireland, but also in Britain, which has been heavily influenced by English and Irish and is now effectively a cant or creole, though some scholars think it may have originated as and may retain elements of a non-Irish, non-English language.[1]

See also

  • Wiktionary's coverage of Shelta terms



  1. Creolization and Contact, ISBN 9027252459: "Material in Shelta from the 1890s […] shows structural features […] which are not of Hiberno-English origin. Some of these can be attributed to Irish Gaelic, others cannot. […] It is possible that, since much of the lexicon of Shelta derives from non-Irish and non-English sources, the mysterious elements in the lexicon may be the remains of the language underlying Shelta which was then swamped by elements from Irish, first of all, and then from English. […] In modern Shelta with its English-derived structural framework we may be witnessing the later stages of a process of language intertwining which began at a time when English was unknown to Shelta-speakers."