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Article Ziegeuner , Johann Heinrich Zedler, Universallexicon (1731–1754), the most important German-language encyclopedia of the 18th century: "Ziegeuner" as a heterogeneous social group with the common characteristics of delinquency and a non-permanent way of life

Gypsy is a foreign term in the German-speaking area that is used not only, but mostly with an ethnic meaning, to refer to members of the Roma minority.


(See also #distribution space, early occurrence )

The origin of the word gypsy is controversial. It is possibly a corrupted form of the Athingan sect ( Greek Ἀθίγγανοι , Athinganoi , "the untouchables") who lived in the 9th century in earlier Phrygia . In the year 803 they were described there in Amorion for the first time as "magicians, fortune tellers and bad heretics". In 1580 Caspar Peucer assumed that the gypsies were the descendants of the Athingans. They were regarded as heretics to be subsumed under the Paulikians . Derivations with origins from the 19th century refer to an "outcast" population group called Cangar ( Tschangar ) in today's Punjab ( India ) who spoke a " Sanskrit daughter language Sindhi ". Rienzi named this cangar in 1832 "Cingari" or "Tzengari". Since there is no evidence of continuity of the origin of the group with "Gypsies" from this Indian group, apart from the common phonetic characteristics of the group names, these are pure conjectures. This applies in the same way for centuries to the construction “Sindhi” as a forerunner of “Sinti” due to the lack of written sources. There is also a derivation from Old Turkish čïγay with the variants čïγan and čïγany with the meaning “poor”, “miserable”, conveyed via the Hungarian word cigány . Both the one and the other linguistic derivation attempt have in common that their representatives assign the group a lower social outsider position.

In German, the word comes from Middle High German "Cigäwnär", which first appeared as a handwritten note in Andreas von Regensburg 's diary in 1422 : "A certain tribe of the Cingari, usually called Cigäwnär" ( Latin quaedam Cingarorum vulgariter Cigäwnär vocitata ). "However, it was said among the people that they were secret spies in the country". Members of the Sinti minority, known as "Tatern" or "Gypsies", have lived in German-speaking countries since at least the beginning of the 15th century.

The Swiss chronicler Johannes Stumpf reported that the "Zygins" from Helvetia first came to Switzerland in 1418 and had "gold and silver" at their disposal.

Today's word meaning

Gypsy is a suspected in the German language to the Byzantine Greek returning foreign designation for the population, which in stereotypes , each striking pronounced by the majority population different properties are assigned. Two main modes of description can be distinguished that can occur in mixtures:

  • “Gypsies” as a collective sociographic category for different ethnic and social groups , whose members are assigned a way of life described as unsteady, unbound, deviant or delinquent . This concept emerged with the beginning of the early modern period .
  • "Gypsies" as an ethnic group in a cultural or biological understanding. A way of life that is also described as unsteady up to “nomadism”, as unbound, deviant or delinquent is an unchangeable characteristic. This concept goes back to the ethnographic oriented gypsy studies of the late 18th century and is still effective today. As part of this concept, “Gypsy” was and is used as a collective name for the Roma groups , exclusive under National Socialism.

Since the end of the 18th century, a perspective in the sense of “ people ” and “ race ” developed, which became increasingly solidified in the 19th century. At the same time as a discriminatory , romanticizing perspective emerged, which reassessed negative stereotypes positively.

The more important national and international Roma interest groups reject the use of the term on Roma because of the stigmatizing and racist connotations . You see the word in the context of a long history of persecution that culminated in the National Socialist genocide.

The term “gypsy” has meanwhile disappeared from the language used by German-speaking state and non-state administration, the judiciary, large social institutions such as the trade unions or the churches, international authorities and politics. It is hardly needed in the media either, with the exception of right-wing extremist publications and organizations related to them. Self-names such as Roma or Sinti have different meanings and different connotations than the external name. They cannot therefore be equated with it, but replace it with independent content.

To classify the term

Distribution area, early occurrence

Edict against "Gypsies" and others, Berlin 1720

The word gypsy is a foreign name that occurs in a similar form in many European languages. One of the oldest Latin documents in Central Europe is secanus as the Latinization of the name of a group that caused a sensation in Lübeck in 1417 ( Sec (h) anos se nuncupantes ) and allegedly called itself Secaner . The form "Gypsy" was then first detectable in 1418 in Munich.

In the more recent literature there is also the hypothesis of an origin from the Middle Greek name athinganoi , which denoted the followers of a Gnostic sect that was primarily at home in Phrygia , a region in western Anatolia , and was adopted by the Roma population. According to a legend in the biography of " St. Georgios of Athos " from the beginning of the 12th century, " Samaritans , descendants of Simon Magus , who are called Adsingans" freed the Byzantine emperor's hunting grounds from invading wild animals by means of a magic defense.

The term Athinganoi in the sense of the later “Gypsy” has appeared since the 12th or 13th century, first with an uncertain reference in Theodoros Balsamon († after 1195) for snake charmers and fortune tellers, and then with a clear reference ( o toùs kaì Aìgyptíous kaì Athingánous ) with Gregorios II. Kyprios (1283–1289 Patriarch of Constantinople). Whether the documents from the 11th and 12th centuries already attest to the presence of Roma in Byzantium or whether they relate to fortune tellers of other origins is discussed in the research.

Alternatively, derivations from Persian Ciganch (musician, dancer), from Persian asinkan (blacksmith) or from Old Turkish čïgāń “poor, penniless” have been suggested.

In terms of folk etymology , gypsies are sometimes mistakenly interpreted as "pulling crooks", ie "(wandering) crooks". This is one of the reasons why the term has negative effects.

"Gypsy" and "Gypsy way of life"

Although the vast majority of Roma have lived in a fixed location for many generations, in Southeastern Europe for centuries and in Central Europe since the last third of the 19th century at the latest, nomadism is still largely regarded as a “Gypsy way of life”. In this notion, deviating lifestyles of a minority within the Roma are not only falsely generalized to the group as a whole, but also ascribed to it as a biological or cultural constant.

In fact, locally unrelated ways of working and living have been found across the centuries in the most varied of variants worldwide and within many otherwise settled ethnic groups. Regardless of the ethnic, cultural and social differences between these groups, “Gypsy peoples” is occasionally used as a generic term for “Gypsies”, with the Roma being collectively reduced to a mobile minority subgroup.

Against this background, literature speaks of a “double gypsy term”. It is ambiguous and inconsistent. “Roma” cannot be translated as “Gypsy” because the sociographic definition excludes those Roma who do not actually practice the ascribed way of life, while the ethnic definition excludes those people from “Gypsyism” who, as non-Roma, exclude the ascribed “ also exhibit gypsy “way of life.

It would also be problematic to understand and use the self-names only as a kind of literal translation of the external names, because the content implemented in the “Gypsy” category would survive in a new guise.

Other foreign names

Another pan-European group name is derived from Egypt as the country of origin. It is mainly interpreted as a derivation from the place name Gyp (p) e, mountain on the Peloponnese, which has been attested in several travel reports since the 1480s. Accordingly, there was a settlement called "small Egypt" there in front of the city of Modon (today: Methoni). It was inhabited by "Egyptians called Heyden" or by "Suyginers".

In the first period of their appearance in Europe, Roma groups referred to this origin myth and referred to themselves as Egyptian pilgrims. As such, they received alms and letters of protection. “Egyptians” became a European majority term: so Spanish Gitano , French Gitan , English Gypsy , Greek γύφτος ( gyftos ), Serbian cipside , Turkish çingene . The article “Ziegeuner” in Johann Heinrich Zedler'sUniversallexicon ”, the most influential German-language encyclopedia of the 18th century, describes “Egyptier” as the group name that occurs most frequently (“primarily”) in German.

In northern Germany as well as in Scandinavian languages ​​and in the former Romanian language area , the term Tatern or tattare (Roman. Tărtari or tătăraşi ), which actually means the Tatars, is found . In English, the original ethnonym tatters has completely lost its original meaning and is now one of the words for “rags”.

The term Heidenen or Heider (ie "Heiden") was used historically. In Theodor Storm's work Der Schimmelreiter , “Gypsies” who were supposed to be sacrificed by the local North Frisians were referred to as Slovaks .

French and Spanish majority society names are also bohémiens or bohemios ("Bohemia, Bohemian"). Its importance has expanded to include members of an art form, the bohème , which is imagined to be alive outside of bourgeois notions of order.

In view of the discrediting of the categorization and recording practice practiced by the regulatory authorities by National Socialism, the Federal Republican police authorities switched to inconspicuous, veiled substitutes for "gypsies". As for “Landfahrer”: The central Gypsy intelligence service (“ Gypsy Central ”, under National Socialism “Gypsy Police Headquarters”) established in Munich in 1899 was maintained beyond National Socialism, but now under the new name “Landfahrerstelle”. Another code name is "mobile ethnic minority". It is used to circumvent the police's prohibition on public declarations that suspects belong to the minority.

On the historical position of the own names

Contrary to popular belief, the self-names in German-speaking countries have been known for a long time in the majority society, without ever having entered into any noteworthy competition with Gypsies until the 1980s . They always had an insignificant marginal position. In 1793, an author stated that “the question of what a people call themselves is important in historical and etymological studies. So what do the gypsies call themselves? The answer is right: Roma or Romma in the multiple number, Rome in the single number. ”He is also familiar with“ Sinte ”. "Romni" is recorded in the regional dialect. The sharply anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy Hessian local writer Rudolf Oeser used the own names. Gustav Freytag explained that the gypsies "still call themselves Sinte today" and with the "romany chib", "the Rom, as he calls himself", has its own language.

In contrast, at least in the French-speaking world, subject terms had a firm place, at least in professional and home literature, even before the paradigm shift of the 1980s.

"Gypsies" in the public discourse of modernity

19th and 20th centuries

For a long time, the semantics of Gypsies moved between a culturally or biologically determined folkish and a sociographical content. In the second case, non-Roma could also be meant: for example, since the 19th century the label "white gypsies" has occasionally been applied to the rural travelers "who live in the gypsy manner" from the point of view of the majority society and since around 1900 that of the "cultural gypsies" to non-conformist artists from the majority society ( " Bohemiens ") applied. The sociographical attribution, however, not unlike the ethnic attribution, included the classification of those affected as "harmful to the community" and as "degenerate".

With the rise of the National Socialists to power , the term was systematically racially “scientifically” and in the further course a system of categories of “genuine Gypsies”, “Gypsy hybrids” according to different degrees of “blood mixture” and “non-Gypsies” was constructed according to the concept of the Nuremberg Laws . Since the late 1930s at the latest, Gypsies was a categorization meant exclusively by ethnic and biological means by race research and by police and other persecution institutions, on which a large number of exclusion regulations were based , including deportation lists for Auschwitz. That is why the term is now considered contaminated in large parts of the social discourse. Especially the members of the minority themselves understand the word as a heading for a long history of persecution with the eventual genocide ( Porajmos ).

If the self-names took the place of Gypsies , this is mainly due to the efforts of the Roma, who have been organizing themselves since the 1970s, and their majority supporters. The civil rights movement confronted the majority society with terms that were unfamiliar to them in order to change the familiar view of the minority. The self-names symbolize the break with the traditional majority social perspective and for the recognition of the minority as an independent and self-defining entity. They demand a non-discriminatory view from the majority society.

Until around 1980, the word “Gypsy” was used almost without exception in the text and title of German-language publications on the subject. The book In Auschwitz gassed, persecuted to this day - on the situation of the Roma (gypsies) in Europe , published by Tilman Zülch of the Society for Threatened Peoples in 1979 by Tilman Zülch, published by the Society for Threatened Peoples, is an example of the turning away from external names and a conference proceedings published by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Bremen in 1980, Sinti in the Federal Republic - condemned to be illegitimate?

On the current position of "Gypsies"

Within the minority

As early as 1978, Vincent Rose , chairman of the then Association of Cinti Germany, stated on the occasion of the award of the Federal Cross of Merit that "the only right thing to do is to call him 'Cinto'", since "Gypsies" are discriminatory. The interest groups established in the 1980s such as the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma , the Rome and Cinti Union (Hamburg) and the Roma Union (Frankfurt am Main) or the younger association Amaro Drom (Berlin) reject and refer to the foreign designation as racist while on their history. So also the Cologne-based, but far beyond recognized by non- Roma supported Rom e. V.

The Sinti Alliance Germany - one of the less important alliances, limited to a few families from the Sinti and Lovara subgroups - continued to accept the name for a long time, although it avoided it in its proper name. She measured their usability according to the private speaker's intention. The communication of the group names is seen by some traditionalist Sinti - this is where the Sinti Alliance takes its place - as a violation of the ban on communicating with and in front of non-Romans in Romani, so that speakers then prefer to switch to "Gypsies". In the meantime, the Sinti Alliance has revised its self-description and spoke of itself instead of an “amalgamation of German Gypsies” now exclusively of “Sinti”, “Lovara”, “Roma” (2013). Another revision reversed that. In 2020 it will again be said, "Censorship or ostracism of the term gypsy, by whomever, should and must not exist."

Regarding everyday language practice, a study of the Rhenish showman milieu, in which Sinti traditionally played an important role, which was carried out at the end of the 1970s / beginning of the 1980s, found that "the gypsies themselves ... the word is hardly accepted". "Rather, the ... vagantes refer to themselves as ròm 'man, gypsy man' ... or as sinte 'gypsy', depending on their clan."

In the context of a study on the current educational situation of German Roma, which was carried out between 2007 and 2011 and was developed in the context of the Central Council, the use of group names by members of the minority was also asked. In accordance with the Central Council's self-image, only the two self-names Roma and Sinti were discussed , as well as the external name Gypsies . Not quite 95% of the respondents used their own names, for 57.5% the foreign term was "always a problem", 14.9% had "no problem with the use of the Gypsy term by others" and a further 25.7% found “It depends on whether this term is used derogatory or even as a swear word”. 6.9% applied the gypsy term to themselves, e.g. T. next to Roma or Sinti .

In the Yeniche self-labeling discourse

In the first two decades of its activity, the Yenish- dominated Swiss cycling cooperative of the Landstrasse used “Gypsies” as a self-designation for its members “a mixed community of Sinti, Romani and Yeniche”, this of the “other travelers in the Switzerland, showmen [s], fairground traders [s], Chilbi [= Kirmes / Kirtag] - and circus people [n] "delimiting. However, it moved away from this in the mid-1990s and subsequently dispensed with the Gypsy label. Since the mid-1980s, it has drawn an ethnically defined strict dividing line with the Roma groups and ethnicises the Yenish population group into a separate "Yenish people".

In politics, administration, social institutions

The "Catholic Gypsy Pastoral Care" represented the term until 2010. The Bishop of Hildesheim Norbert Trelle, as the representative of the "Gypsy Pastoral Care", declared in 2008 that the church wanted to give the term back the dignity and meaning that it had received from centuries-old prejudices and Nazi crimes had been taken, namely by continuing to use it. For him, “gypsy” was a sociographic, but also an ethnic collective term for a “people on the move”, to which he assigned both Roma and Yeniche. Their “nomadic culture” produced a “worldview” that was alien to all of them and “difficult to grasp” for settled people.

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma criticized the continued use of the term as well as the blanket portrayal of the Roma as "nomads". "Gypsies" stir up prejudices because it is an alien term of the majority society, inseparably linked with racist ascriptions and overlaid by prejudices, which is felt by the vast majority of members of the minority as discriminatory. "Nomads" deny the people their home rights. The ascription suggests that “Gypsies” form an archaic “tribal society” that cannot be integrated into the modern surrounding society. The members of the minority, however, are a real part of society and as such take part in its development.

In 2010 the German Bishops' Conference ended its previous practice and decided to change the name of its institution to “Catholic Pastoral Care for Roma, Sinti and Related Groups”. “Gypsy pastoral care” is no longer in line with common usage and is perceived by those affected as misleading or discriminatory. Trelle was replaced by Bishop Franz Vorrath .

On the other hand, the right-wing Catholic Scouting Union of Europe described the term in 2018 in their sponsorship magazine Scout Mary's as "allegedly discriminatory". The Engelwerk , which is close to her, attributes, among other things, "Gypsies" to being particularly susceptible to demons .

In the science discourse

In scientific usage, the term still appears, but is regularly put in quotation marks or at least with the hint that it should be used as a source term, i.e. not quoting affirmatively. In the case of reflective use in the specialist discourse, a distinction is made between the “term 'gypsy' as an object term from the perspective of the prosecuting authorities” and the “subject term of those affected” (2008). The label “Gypsy” contained “a clear devaluation, at least for the addressee, regardless of the intentions of an individual speaker”. “Devaluation” is “the essential content of the history of this term”. The derogatory semantics cannot be removed from the designation, they conserve and pass them on (2007).

This is countered by a view that is also represented outside of the scientific discourse (see above), which sticks to the external name and sees in its critics "Gypsy fans", "Gypsy friends" or "unrealistic do-gooders". In 2004, for example, Hermann Arnold , the hereditary hygienist and “Gypsy expert” who died the following year, succeeded the National Socialist Gypsy researcher Robert Ritter . The contemporary historian Eberhard Jäckel said in 2005 with a different reason : “Gypsies” - irrespective of the history of words and semantic context - are not disparaging if they are well meant.

A noticeable exception within the specialist discourse was the Leipzig School of Tsiganology until 2012 . Your best-known spokesman, the ethnologist Bernhard Streck , stated that the traditional group label was a “time-honored term”. The "serious tsiganology" he represented therefore "did not go along with the language change he described as" renaming. "At the same time, Streck attached importance to being called a" tsiganologist "instead of a" gypsy researcher "or" gypsy researcher ". These designations were discredited by Nazi race research. Streck and his school advocated a decidedly sociographical cross-ethnic gypsy concept, which is based on the constructs of “dissidence” and “nomadism”, refuses to define it and the only thing they have in common is called “gypsies”

  • indigenous groups in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa who have nothing to do with Roma ethnically, and
  • sees the Roma groups as having a shimmering "tense relationship with the respective majority society". This approach has met with sharp criticism in research.

In 2012 the circle around Streck ceased operations. Since then, there has been no one at German-speaking universities who still does “Gypsy research” / “Tsiganology” there.

In journalism

In the German-speaking media, the term is now in an increasingly minimalized outsider position. Counted as an example in the time and the daily newspaper for the period from 1995/96 to 2003:

  • as the most frequently used form with definitely ethnic content Roma ,
  • that occurred three times as often as Sinti ,
  • while the ethnically ambiguous label Gypsies still had a share of 20 to 30%.

The count in the time from 2003 also showed that Gypsies apart from "citing uses in reflections about the word gypsies" and apart from the historiographical citation of the source term at all, only in romanticized, "positive" usages (in literature and music) or in a figurative sense ("living like a gypsy").

In the years 1995 to 2002 the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma filed complaints against a total of 381 newspaper articles with the German Press Council , because whatever suspects were suspected as "Gypsies", "Sinti / Roma", "Landfahrer" or with other synonymously used markings such as " MEM ”(for“ mobile ethnic minority ”). In 2003 there were 51 and in 2004 52 newspaper articles. In 2007 the Press Council received 39 complaints. According to the press council, a significant proportion of the attributions were quotations with non-affirmative intentions taken from other speakers in a medium. It is not known how often "Gypsies" were spoken of. Every year on December 7th, the Central Council files complaints with the Press Council about discriminatory depictions of Roma. It was said in 2009 that they had continued to decline in recent years. There was no longer any question of the undesirable use of “gypsies”.

In the meantime (2013) the affirmative use of “Gypsies” in the language of the serious German media is no longer verifiable. For the newspaper Die Welt , “Gypsy” is an “earlier name” (2010). “This word, 'gypsy',” commented the literary scholar Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht for the FAZ , “should be avoided (like its equivalents in other languages, 'gypsy' for example or 'gitano') for good reasons, that much is certain - and so much respect has become established in the meantime. "

In 2013 the chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose , resolutely contradicted the fear that "Gypsies" might seem to be regaining their citizenship . The self-names are consistently respected, just as his association only has to report very few cases of antigypsy reports to the press council. The occasional “provocative” use of the terminology, such as in 2013 in a book by the author Rolf Bauerdick, cannot be generalized.


The General Equal Treatment Act (2006) and the establishment of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (2006) were able to raise awareness and sensitivity, especially for everyday forms of discrimination. Legal regulations encourage those affected to oppose it. In October 2009, the Association of Bad Hersfeld Sinti and Roma filed a criminal complaint against the Waldhessian advertising paper “Klartext” for sedition and insult. The German Press Council supported him by stating that “Klartext” violated the press code. For the association, the theologian Samson Lind declared, "We are not gypsies, but Sinti and Roma".

The Federal Equal Treatment Act (B-GBG) of 1993, which has been amended several times and has been adapted to EU guidelines, has a similar function to the AGG in Germany when it comes to dealing with the designation "Gypsies" and the associated content in Austria. An example of the application of the law is the decision of the Equal Treatment Commission in the Federal Chancellery in 2005 against a sign "No space for Gypsies" from a private campsite operator. She concluded that the sign was "both discriminatory and harassing" and that "the term 'gypsy' was discriminatory within the meaning of the Equal Treatment Act".

Section 283 of the Austrian Criminal Code also draws a line against discrimination. Anyone who publicly incites against members of groups or groups as a whole "or insults them in a manner that violates human dignity and thereby seeks to make them contemptible" who, among other things, a. Defining “according to the criteria of race, skin color, language, ... nationality, descent or national or ethnic origin” is a criminal offense.


Overall, "Gypsy" is no longer traceable in public usage , such as the judiciary, state and non-state administration, the major social institutions such as parties, trade unions or churches, national politics or the pronouncements of international institutions, today (as of 2010). An example is a recent statement by the European Commission, according to which it is customary in EU strategy papers and discussions to apply the term “Roma” even to cases in which it is Roma who are those of “Gypsies” (or their non-German counterparts speak of "Gypsies", "Gitanos", "Gitans" etc.).

There is one exception in turning away from “gypsies” in the political and media arena: organizations and media on the right-wing fringe still prefer “gypsies” and see the term as the politically correct term. The traditional alleged main characteristics “delinquency” and “nomadization” are ascribed to the minority. “Gypsies” is used primarily on Southeastern European Roma who are to be deported. This also includes compositions with disparaging connotations such as "Gypsy lobby", "Gypsy clan" or "Gypsy chief". "The centuries-old term 'gypsy'" is not discriminatory, so for Austria even with the inclusion of right-wing populist media.

Even here, however, the changes of the last few decades have not remained without their effects. Occasionally, right-wing populist and right-wing extremist media also speak of “Roma” or “Gypsies” - “pretending to be political correctness” (according to Der Standard on a lead story by Die Weltwoche ) - placed in quotation marks.

On the position of foreign names in Europe

The foreign names are on the decline all over Europe. Reasons for this are

  • the general cultural paradigm shift in the last third of the 20th century with a fundamental change in the view of minorities, with which in many cases non-discriminatory group names became established, and
  • the self-organization of the Roma in national and international interest groups and their efforts to change the traditional view of the majority in society.

However, the development is not uniform, but rather according to the different social and political conditions. In Scandinavia, the foreign names are now historical. In Romania, pressure from outside - through the EU committees - resulted in a government commitment to remove the external term as discriminatory from official language usage and to speak of “Roma” in future, but this met with considerable social contradiction. Romanian nationalists launched a campaign in 2009 for a law to reinstate țigani and eradicate roma .

On the current position of "Gypsies" in private usage

"Gypsy group" from Allmendingen at the Mainz Rose Monday procession in 2013

A distinction must be made between private language usage and public usage. It is true that there are no studies on the older and current status of "gypsies" in private everyday communication within the majority society. However, it can be assumed that the term with the connotations attached to it is still important:

  • The results of opinion polls speak for this. Resentment against "Gypsies" had therefore, beyond the experience of National Socialism, still held a firm position in the imagination of the majority population in the last few decades. Since surveys began in the early 1960s, “Gypsies” have been by far the least popular of all ethnic groups in Germany. In 2002, 58% of Germans rejected "Gypsies" as neighbors, according to a survey by Infratest on behalf of the American Jewish Committee . In 2011, a survey by the Bielefeld Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence showed 44.2% agreement with the claim that “Sinti and Roma tend to be criminal” and 40.1% agreement with “I would have problems with Sinti and Roma in stop in my area ”.
In the opinion of the questioner, it does influence the answer whether the question is about the attitude towards “Gypsies” or “Sinti and Roma”. In any case, however, the resentments firmly linked to the old term remain vital even if they are externally adapted to the new convention.
  • The popular saying “Zig, zag, pack of gypsies”, known from the 1920s, but presumably older, has survived the change in language quite unimpaired. It is still part of the repertoire of German football fans today, but it also appears in carnival (similar to picturesque costumed groups of "gypsies"). The ruling has repeatedly led to criminal charges against the speakers. Contrary to the social reality of occupied with the concept of diverse minorities are the forms derived gypsies , also roaming around today on the instructions of the Duden (2014) slang for a fictional community of life that "disorderly", "unstable", "vagrant", " without a permanent residence and a real job ”.

Avoidance of product names with "Gypsies ..."

In the course of the anti-racism debate after the death of the black George Floyd , two food manufacturers in Austria announced that they would change their brand names in August 2020: The snack manufacturer Kelly's will rename the "gypsy wheels", which are shaped after 6-spoke wheels, into "circus wheels" without changing their taste. Knorr (parent company: Unilever ) renames the "gypsy sauce" to "Hungarian style paprika sauce".


Internationally, the foreign names are also on the decline, so in the Netherlands ( Dutch gypsies ), in the English-speaking world ( English gypsy , gipsy ), Italy ( Italian gitano , zingaro ), in French ( French gitan ), in Spain ( Spanish gitano ) or in Portugal ( Portuguese cigano ). The "gipsy" or "gypsy" comes from the Middle English "gipcyan", an abbreviation of "Egyptian", one of their alleged countries of origin. The neo-Latin languages ​​also derive it from the indication of origin "from Egypt" ( Latin egiptano ), so also in Greece ( Greek Γύφτος , Gýftos or Greek τσιγγάνος , tsiggános ). Other languages ​​use “cigan” or similar forms ( Hungarian czigány , Romanian cigánu ).

These external names are increasingly being replaced by personal names such as Roma, Sinti, Kale or Manusch .


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  • Stephan Bauer: From Dillmann's Gypsy Book to the BKA : 100 years of recording and persecuting the Sinti and Roma in Germany. Siedentop, Heidenheim 2008, ISBN 978-3-925887-27-7 (plus dissertation, University of Osnabrück 2007).
  • Klaus-Michael Bogdal : Europe invents the gypsies. A story of fascination and contempt. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-518-42263-2 .
  • Hans Richard Brittnacher: Life on the border. The cliché and fascination of the gypsy image in literature and art. Wallstein, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-8353-1047-6 .
  • Alexandra Graevskaia: Gypsies . In: Bente Gießelmann, Robin Heun, Benjamin Kerst, Lenard Suermann, Fabian Virchow (eds.): Concise dictionary of right-wing extremist fighting terms . Wochenschau Verlag, Schwalbach 2015, ISBN 978-3-7344-0155-8 , pp. 340–354.
  • Stefani Kugler: Art Gypsies. Constructions of the "gypsy" in German literature of the first half of the 19th century. Series: Literature, Imagination, Reality , Volume 34. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, Trier 2004, ISBN 3-88476-660-0 (also dissertation, University of Trier 2003).
  • Anja Lobenstein-Reichmann: On the stigmatization of "Gypsies" in works of collective knowledge using the example of the Grimm dictionary. In: Herbert Uerlings, Iulia-Karin Patrut (ed.): "Gypsies" and Nation. Representation, inclusion, exclusion. Frankfurt 2008, ISBN 978-3-631-57996-1 , pp. 589-629.
  • Thomas Schares: Talking about Roma in German-speaking (Romanian) media. In: Kronstadt contributions to German studies. New series , issue 2 (2013), Passau: Karl Stutz, ISBN 978-3-88849-162-7 , pp. 109–128.
  • Ramona Mechthilde Treinen, Herbert Uerlings: From the “uncivilized wandering people” to the “discriminated minority”: “Gypsies” in the Brockhaus. In ibid., Pp. 631-696.
  • Leo Lucassen: Gypsies. The history of a police concept in Germany 1700–1945. Böhlau, Cologne 1996, ISBN 3-412-05996-X u. ö.
  • Frank Reuter: The spell of the stranger. The photographic construction of the "gypsy" . Göttingen: Wallstein 2014, ISBN 978-3-8353-1578-5 .
  • Rüdiger Vossen, Wolf Dietrich, Michael Faber, Michael Peters (eds.): Zigeuner. Roma, Sinti, Gitanos, Gypsies. Between persecution and romanticization. Catalog for the exhibition in the Hamburg Museum of Ethnology . Ullstein 1987, ISBN 3-548-34135-7 .
  • Diederich's fairy tale of world literature "Märchen der Zigeuner" rororo 1993, ISBN 3 499 35099 8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Gypsies  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Jörg Kilian: Words in doubt . Approaches to a linguistically based critical semantics. In: Linguistics online . tape 16 , no. 4 , January 6, 2003, p. 159–170 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.16.800 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  • For technical articles on the discourse of names and everyday language use, see also the following special edition of the Documentation Center of Rome e. V. published and supported by the Foundation Environment and Development NRW magazine "Nevipe": [14] .

References and comments

  1. a b goat tuna. In: Johann Heinrich Zedler : Large complete universal lexicon of all sciences and arts . Volume 62, Leipzig 1749, columns 520-544.
  2. ^ Alfred Freiherr von Gutschmid , Kleine Schriften von Alfred von Gutschmid , Volumes 2-3, 1890, p. 615.
  3. Caspar Peucer, Comment divationum , 1580, p. 160.
  4. Heinrich von Wlislocki, Vom Wanderden Zigeunervolke. Pictures from the life of the Transylvanian gypsies, Hamburg 1890, p. 4.
  5. Grégoire-Louis Domeny de Rienzi, in: Bureau de la revue encyclopédique , Revue encyclopédique , Tome LVI, 1832, p. 365 ff.
  6. Annemarie von Gabain: Old Turkish grammar. 3. Edition. Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1974, ISBN 3-447-01514-4 , p. 334.
  7. ^ Andreas von Regensburg, Diarium Sexennale , 1422, p. 22.
  8. Wilhelm Solms, Gypsy Pictures: A Dark Chapter in German Literary History , 2008, p. 18
  9. ^ Andreas von Regensburg, Diarium Sexennale , 1422, p. 22.
  10. Gabi Meyer, Official Memory and the Situation of the Sinti and Roma in Germany , 2013, p. 24
  11. John Stumpf, Schweytzer Chronick , 1538/1606, p 731a.
  12. Hermann Korner , Chronica novella (edited by Jakob Schwalm, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1895); in the Middle Low German version of the so-called Rufus Chronicle then Germanised as Secanen ( unde nomeden sik de Secanen ), Karl Koppmann (ed.), The Chronicles of the German Cities from the 14th to the 16th Century , XXVIII: The Chronicles of the Lower Saxony Cities - Lübeck , Volume 3, Hirzel, Leipzig 1903, p. 108, No. 1285.
  13. ^ Friedrich Kluge , Alfred Götze : Etymological dictionary of the German language . 20th edition. Edited by Walther Mitzka . De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1967; Reprint (“21st unchanged edition”) ibid 1975, ISBN 3-11-005709-3 , p. 884.
  14. ^ Rüdiger Vossen: Gypsies. Roma, Sinti, Gitanos, Gypsies. Between persecution and romanticization . Frankfurt am Main / Berlin / Vienna 1983, p. 20 f.
  15. ^ Reimar Gilsenbach : World Chronicle of the Gypsies. Frankfurt am Main et al. 1997, 2nd, corr. and additional ed., pp. 26, 222.
  16. George C. Soulis: The Gypsies in the Byzantine Empire and the Balkans in the Late Middle Ages . In: Dumbarton Oaks Papers 15 (1961), pp. 141-165, 146-147, quoted from Angus M. Fraser: The Gypsies. Blackwell, Oxford et al. a. 1995, pp. 46-47.
  17. ^ Viorel Achim: The Roma in Romanian Historiy. Central European University Press, Bucharest u. a. 2004, p. 9.
  18. Marek Stachowski: The ethnonym 'Gypsy', its Slavic-Turkish background and Hungarian 'szegény' . In: Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia 7 (2002), pp. 159-169.
  19. see e.g. B. Theodor Christian Tetzner: History of the Gypsies; their origin, nature and art. 1835. S. 9. ( online )
  20. sinti8
  21. See Karola Fings : Race: Gypsies. In: Herbert Uerlings, Iulia-Karin Patrut (ed.): "Gypsies" and Nation. Representation-inclusion-exclusion. (= Inclusion / exclusion. Studies on foreignness and poverty from antiquity to the present , vol. 8), Frankfurt am Main u. a. 2008, pp. 273-309, p. 274.
  22. Compare to this: work by Hosemann
  23. Karola Fings , Ulrich F. Opfermann (ed.): Gypsy persecution in the Rhineland and in Westphalia 1933–1945. In: History, processing and memory, Paderborn 2012, p. 11, 356.
  24. ^ Reports by Arnold von Harff, patrician from Cologne, Georges Lencheraud, mayor of Mons im Hainaut (Belgium) and Alexander Palatine of the Rhine according to: Reimar Gilsenbach: Weltchronik der Gigeuner. Part I, Frankfurt am Main 1997, 2nd corr. and additional ed., pp. 103, 110, 114.
  25. Some of them stated that they were preachers of penance for the sins of their ancestors who refused to help the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt. See Ines Köhler-Zülch, The refused hostel: The Holy Family in Egypt and other stories of “Gypsies” Self-statements or external images? . In: Jacqueline Giere (ed.), The social construction of the gypsy: on the genesis of a prejudice (= Scientific series of the Fritz Bauer Institute, 2), Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1966, pp. 46–86.
  26. ^ Keyword "Gypsies" in Meyers Konversationslexikon from 1888
  27. What was right then . In: Die Zeit , No. 17/1980 (PDF)
  28. ^ Statement by the Central Council of Sinti and Roma , ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF), p. 3.
  29. The contemporary historian Eberhard Jäckel formulates it in a contribution to the debate about the text for a memorial for the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under National Socialism , in: FAZ , February 5, 2005
  30. ^ Johann Erich Biester: About the Gypsies; especially in the Kingdom of Prussia . In: Berlinische Monatsschrift , Vol. 21, 1793, pp. 108–165, 360–393, here p. 364 f.
  31. Werner Wied: Of all sorts of wandering and driving, acting and begging people . In: Gerhard Hippenstiel, Werner Wied (Ed.): Wittgenstein III. a reader on folklore and dialect of the Wittgensteiner Land , Bad Laasphe 1984, pp. 493–506, here p. 502.
  32. ^ O. Glaubrecht [= Rudolf Oeser]: The Gypsy . Halle (Saale) 1907, p. 42 f.
  33. ^ Gustav Freytag: Pictures from the German past. 2nd volume, 1st section: From the Middle Ages to the Modern Age , Berlin undated (1920), p. 464 ff.
  34. See: Ulrich Friedrich Opfermann: “Don't be a goat tuner, but an imperial cornet”. Sinti in the 17th and 18th centuries. An investigation based on archival sources , Berlin 2007, p. 21.
  35. ^ Anna-Lena Sälzer: Poor, anti-social, outsider. Artist and “Gypsy” discourses from 1900 to National Socialism. In: Herbert Uerlings, Iulia-Karin Patrut (ed.): "Gypsies" and Nation. Representation-inclusion-exclusion. Frankfurt am Main u. a. 2008, pp. 203-230.
  36. Karola Fings : The Path to Genocide . In: Karola Fings, Ulrich Opfermann (Ed.): Gypsy persecution in the Rhineland and in Westphalia. 1933-1945. History, processing and memory . Paderborn 2012, pp. 53–71, here: pp. 11, 356.
  37. Karola Fings, Ulrich Opfermann: Glossary . In: Gypsy persecution in the Rhineland and Westphalia. 1933-1945. History, processing and memory . Paderborn 2012, pp. 337–359, here: p. 350.
  38. Gerhard Laaf: A seventy year old is committed to the Cinti . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, December 22, 1978.
  39. On Amaro Drom see the concise statement of the chairman: "The greatest insult is the designation 'gypsy'". In: taz, January 27, 2011, online version .
  40. For a discussion of the designation and the content it carries from the point of view of different authors and on the occasion of a “Gypsy Festival” see: Bottom Line. Review of the “Gypsy Festival” in Cologne, in: Nevipe, No. 4 - 2012, pp. 14–21, in: [1] .
  41. See the old (now postponed) with the new HP: Original version: SAD, Cologne headquarters ; New version: SAD, Hildesheim headquarters ( Memento from June 7, 2015 in the Internet Archive ).
  42. According to information provided by the magazine Deutsche Sprachwelt : [2] .
  43. Michael Faber: Showman. Folklore study of a traveling professional group in the Cologne-Bonn area . Bonn 1982, 2nd complete Edition, p. 24.
  44. Michael Klein: Evaluation of quantitative data for the survey. In: Daniel Strauss (Ed.): Study on the current educational situation of German Sinti and Roma. Documentation and research report, Marburg 2011, pp. 17–50, here pp. 10 f., Also pp. 48–50, 99, see: Archivlink ( Memento from July 12, 2011 in the Internet Archive ).
  45. Not every traveler is a gypsy . In: Scharotl, 17 (1992), H. 1, p. 21.
  46. See: Ulrich Opfermann, “Die Jenischen und other Fahrende”. A minority justifies itself . In: Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung 19 (2010), pp. 126–150.
  47. ^ Statement from Bishop Norbert Trelle, Hildesheim, Episcopal Commissioner for Gypsy Pastoral Care in Germany, on VI. World Pastoral Congress for the Gypsies ... (Freising, September 1st to 4th, 2008), see: (PDF).
  48. See: ,
  49. New name for "Gypsy Pastoral Care" . , Vatican Radio: The Voice of the Pope and the Universal Church, May 11, 2010. Signs of Hope , in: Antiziganismuskritik 2 (2010), no. 2, p. 4, see: ( Memento from August 31, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF). It is not, however, the new name, but instead incorrectly reproduced the minority language used by the Central Council within the Roma community.
  50. Guido Becker: A "traveling companion" of the Mother of God. In: Scout of Mary, 1st Tertial 2018, p. 8.
  51. Andrea Röpke : It's a girl thing! - Women in the neo-Nazi scene. Christoph Links Verlag , online version Berlin 2012. ISBN 978-3-86153-615-4
  52. ^ Barbara Hans , Christian Wiesel : Christian Fundamentalism - Church of Extreme. Spiegel online from February 5, 2009
  53. Petra Bleisch: Engelwerk. Evangelical Information Center: Churches - Sects - Religions , 1998, accessed April 21, 2018
  54. John Schneider: Auerbach's Sex Controversy: Is It Underestimated? Evening newspaper from November 9, 2001
  55. Karola Fings: "Race: Gypsies". Sinti and Roma in the crosshairs of criminology and racial hygiene 1933–1945 . In: Herbert Uerlings, Iulia-Karin Patrut (ed.): Zigeuner und Nation. Representation - Inclusion - Exclusion (Inclusion / Exclusion. Studies on Strangeness and Poverty from Antiquity to the Present, Vol. 8), Frankfurt am Main et al. 2008, pp. 273-309, here: p. 274.
  56. Ulrich Friedrich Opfermann: “Don't be a goatuner, but an imperial cornet.” Sinti in the 17th and 18th centuries, Berlin 2007, p. 32.
  57. ^ Hermann Arnold, Press Germany topay. The "Sinti and Roma" swindle, o. O. 2004. The manuscript was no longer published.
  58. ^ Eberhard Jäckel: Monument dispute . , in: FAZ , February 5, 2005.
  59. Bernhard Streck to the Cologne tsiganologist Rüdiger Benninghaus, April 13, 2004, according to his homepage, as of December 28, 2009.
  60. Olaf Guenther, Henning Schwanke: Rolled over figures and modern roundabout. Bernhard Streck, in honor of the spiritus rector of Leipzig Tsiganology , in: Blickpunkte , No. 9, August 2010, pp. 10-18, here: p. 15, see also: ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF).
  61. For example, the programmatic presentation of a publication on a diversity of ethnic groups on the Black Sea: ( Memento from September 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  62. See e.g. B. Joachim Krauss, "Gypsy Continuum" - the constant over time and space in the description of Roma in theory and empiricism , in: Yearbook for Antisemitism Research, Vol. 18 (2009), pp. 161–180.
  63. ^ Archive link ( Memento from November 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  64. Thorsten Eitz, Georg Stötzel, Dictionary of “Coping with the Past” (= The Nazi past in public linguistic use , Vol. 2), Hildesheim 2009, p. 599.
  65. ^ Opinion of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma on the draft law for the implementation of European anti-discrimination guidelines, BT-Drs. 15/4538, hearing in the German Bundestag - Committee on Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, March 7, 2005, in: [3] .
  66. ^ Parallel report to the report of the Federal Republic of Germany of January 23, 2007 for the United Nations - Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [4] .
  67. ^ Opinion of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma on the draft law for the implementation of European anti-discrimination guidelines, BT-Drs. 15/4538, hearing in the German Bundestag - Committee on Family, Seniors, Women and Youth, March 7, 2005, in: [5] .
  68. On December 7, 1935, Reich Minister of the Interior Frick ordered that their "race" should always be mentioned in press reports and official statements on criminal offenses or suspicions against Jews and Sinti and Roma.
  69. ^ Media conference Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and German Press Council, November 5, 2009: Archive link ( Memento of December 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ); See also: Felix M. Steiner, Interview with Silvio Peritore, Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, December 19, 2012: [6] .
  70. See the articles on the topic of “Roma” and the respective link to the world glossary in the section “The people of the Sinti and Roma” of the article, glossary p. 8, z. B. on: [7] .
  71. ^ In FAZ, August 9, 2013: [8] .
  72. "Antiziganism is socially acceptable". Conversation with Romani Rose, in: Wolfgang Benz, Sinti: The undesirable minority. On the prejudice of antiziganism, Berlin 2014, pp. 49–63, here: p. 50.
  73. "Antiziganism is socially acceptable". Conversation with Romani Rose, in: Wolfgang Benz, Sinti: The undesirable minority. About the prejudice Antiziganism, Berlin 2014, pp. 49–63, here: pp. 50 f., 62.
  74. Equality. Less taboos, hardly any more rights . [u. a. on "Gypsies"], in: , July 3, 2007. .
  75. ^ Advertisement for sedition ( memento of December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), in: Hersfelder Zeitung / Kreis-Anzeiger, October 23, 2009; see also: Lorey should apologize! ( Memento from December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), in: Hersfelder Zeitung / Kreis-Anzeiger, November 19, 2009.
  76. ^ Federal Equal Treatment Act: Archive link ( Memento from December 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  77. ^ Romano Centro (Ed.), Antiziganismus in Österreich. Documentation of racist incidents against Roma / Romnija and Sinti / Sintize, Vienna 2013, p. 6.
  78. Quoted from: Romano Centro (Ed.), Antiziganismus in Österreich. Documentation of racist incidents against Roma / Romnija and Sinti / Sintize, Vienna 2013, p. 9.
  79. The term "gypsy" was still a common expression in the documents of the European Union and its predecessor institutions until the 1990s (for example in the resolutions of the European Parliament of 1984 and 1994, see Roma policy of the European Union ).
  80. See the undated, but not formulated statement before 2008 on the homepage of the European Commission .
  81. See e.g. B. the NPD in the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the reactions of all other parties in July 2010: .
  82. See the examples from the magazines Die Aula , Facts and Currently in: Romano Centro (ed.), Antiziganismus in Österreich. Documentation of racist incidents against Roma / Romnija and Sinti / Sintize, Vienna 2013, p. 9.
  83. See e.g. B. Anna Müller, 89th session of the state parliament in Saxony: Right-wing extremists conjure up “Roma invasion”, in: Endstation Rechts, December 20, 2013, [9] ; Swiss “Weltwoche” outraged with Roma article, in: Der Standard, April 6, 2012, [10] .
  84. See, for example, Bo Hazell, Resandefolket. Från tattare till traveler , Stockholm 2002.
  85. ^ Romania: Gypsies instead of Roma quoted from: taz . ; Spain: on the Spanish debate about the word "gitano" see for example: dROMa, 12/2006: Just a word? / Tschak alav? (PDF).
  86. Brigitte Mihok, Peter Widmann, Sinti and Roma as the enemy , in: .
  87. On the entire section and the figures and their interpretation: Markus End, Expert Opinion Antiziganism. On the state of research and counter-strategies, Marburg 2013, pp. 15–21.
  88. See Michael Zimmermann : Rassenutopie und Genozid. The National Socialist "Solution to the Gypsy Question". Hamburg 1996, p. 57.
  89. See e.g. B. as a contemporary phenomenon with a generation gap: "Zigzag - Gypsy Pack" - A conversation with Hugo Franz , in: One must survive. Conversations with Auschwitz inmates 40 years later , ed. from ESG Bonn, Düsseldorf 1984, with: Ronny Blaschke: Zick, zack, Zigeunerpack . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , May 28, 2010.
  90. See: Central Council of Sinti and Roma files criminal charges for hate speech. Accusation of incitement to hatred and insulting rioters ( memento of March 12, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), in: Freie Presse [Chemnitz], January 11, 2012; Criminal charges against fools. Public prosecutor investigating sedition , in: Schwäbische Zeitung , February 7, 2005 ( archive link ( memento of October 18, 2011 in the Internet Archive )). The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma lodged a constitutional complaint against the termination of the investigation. It was rejected. The behavior only served amusement, see: BVerfG v. 06/22/2006 - 2 BvR 1421/05 ( Memento from February 19, 2014 in the web archive ). See the ad of the Central Council against right-wing extremist football fans in January 2012: After indoor tournament riot. Central Council of Sinti and Roma files a criminal complaint, in: Schwäbisches Tagblatt, January 11, 2012, see also: [11] .
  91. Duden zu gypsy : [12] and umzigeunern : [13] .
  92. Kelly's names gypsy wheels by, August 16, 2020, accessed August 17, 2020.