The Yeniche (French spelling), or Jenische (German spelling) are a traditionally itinerant social group in German-speaking Europe and parts of France. The Jenische have been concentrated mostly around the Rhineland.
Although they are sometimes subsumed under the term gypsy, they are unrelated to the Romani people; rather, they were formed from the poor classes during the Early Modern period and the 19th century who were marginalized from society and forced to take up an itinerant lifestyle. Their Yeniche language or properly jargon (argot, cant) is High German enriched with distinctive vocabulary, partially based on Rotwelsch. The adjective jenisch is first attested in the early 18th century in reference to a jargon of this kind. Use as a self-designation arose by the end of the 18th century, first recorded by Johann Ulrich Schöll, who published a treatise on itinerant groups in Swabia in 1793. Schöll was of the opinion that the group had formed comparatively recently, as a result of destitute parts of the population and former soldiers during the Thirty Years' War.
Today 35,000 Jenische live in Switzerland, mostly concentrated around Graubünden. Only about 5,000 of them currently live the traditional traveller lifestyle.
Until the 1970s, the Swiss government had a semi-official policy of institutionalizing Yeniche parents and having their children adopted by more "normal" Swiss citizens, in an effort to eliminate Yeniche culture. The name of this program was "Kinder der Landstraße" ("children of the highway"). In all, 590 children were taken from their parents and institutionalized in orphanages, mental institutions and even prisons.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yeniche.|
- Yeniche language
- Indigenous Norwegian Travellers
- Irish Travellers
- Romani people
- Scottish Travellers
- Quinqui jargon
- On Swiss Crimes against Yeniche (in German)
- Le Temps (Geneva), December 12, 2007, "Le passé enfin écrit des enfants enlevés en Suisse", an historical study spanning the years from 1926 to 1973.