Ossi and Wessi

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Wessi is a slang term for someone who comes from the West German states . In contrast, Ossi refers to people from the so-called new countries .

Use of terms

For decades before German reunification , the term Wessi was used in West Berlin for “ West German provincial people ”, especially for those who moved to Berlin or were there to visit. Similarly, the West Berlin called the rest of the former Federal Republic and West German country , which is still partly in use today. At that time the term was also used disparagingly when West Germans were meant as so-called “bowling tourists” or as carriers of an early form of gentrification , or to criticize the “sterility” of the West German province that was supposedly increasingly being carried to Berlin .

As part of the political turn of the years 1989 and 1990, the term changed Westerner its meaning and now called the citizens of the former West Germany as a whole (including West Berlin). Today, therefore, there is an occasional misunderstanding, as the term still has both meanings. As a counterpart to this, the name Ossi was created to describe former GDR citizens ; at the same time the Wessi-Ossi jokes developed. In fact, Thomas RP Mielke used the terms Wessi and Ossi as early as 1985 in the book The day on which the wall broke . In 1987, Hans Magnus Enzensberger used the spellings Wessie and Ossie in the book Ach Europa . In one chapter in this book, Enzensberger describes a fictional reunified Germany in 2006, in which Ossies and Wessies are “spider enemies”. In parlance in the GDR , the West Germans were also referred to as Westerners or Bundis .

For some East Germans the term Wessi had a negative connotation; the term Besserwessi was and still has a negative connotation. Conversely, in western Germany the term Ossi had a rather negative connotation (as in the word coining Jammerossi or Meckerossi ). In 2009 the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung created the term super-Wessis for the so-called “ Swabians ”, which is used in Berlin as a synonym for pedantic and comparatively wealthy newcomers from the south and southwest of the republic.

Other terms are Zoni , disparaging for GDR citizens , and Ossi , for a GDR citizen who moved to the old federal states after reunification. There is also the term Wossi , a suitcase word from Wessi and Ossi . What is meant is a citizen from a western federal state (sometimes (anachronistically) called " Bundi ") who moved to one of the eastern federal states after reunification (regardless of whether for professional or private reasons).

In 2014, linguist Doris Steffens from the Institute for German Language named the terms Ossi and Wessi as the epitome of the difficulties of the German unification process . According to a study, these terms have largely lost their negative attributions . Terms like Jammerossi or Besserwessi are now heard less often than after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Wessi  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Ossi  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence