Yenish language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Native to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Netherlands, and elsewhere
Ethnicity Yeniche
Native speakers
16,000 (2006)[1]
Latin (German alphabet)
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yec
Glottolog yeni1236[3]

The Yenish language (French: Yeniche, German: Jenisch), is a variety of German spoken by the Yeniche, former nomads living mostly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and parts of France.


The Yeniche language has been documented since the 18th century. It is a jargon rather than an actual language; meaning, it consists of a significant number of unique specialized words, but does not have its own grammar or its own basic vocabulary.[citation needed] Yeniche speakers generally speak their local German dialect enriched by the Yeniche vocabulary.[citation needed]

The Yeniche vocabulary contains many words of Romani and Yiddish (and through this route, Hebrew) origin; it also has many unusual metaphors and metonomies that replace the standard German words. The relationship between Yeniche and standard German is comparable to the relationship between Cockney or Polari and standard English. Many original Yeniche words have become parts of standard German.

The Yeniche were originally travelers, i.e. people with professions outside of mainstream society that required them to move from town to town, such as showpeople, tinkers, and door-to-door salespeople. Today, the Yeniche jargon is only used in certain isolated locations; for example, in certain poor districts of cities such as Berlin and Münster, few Eifel villages, Luxembourg etc.

Individual variants of the Yeniche language can be quite distinct, and have names of their own, such as Masematte, Lepper Talp, Heenese Vlek, and many more.

See also


  1. ^ Yeniche at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "Yenish in Switzerland". Database for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Public Foundation for European Comparative Minority Research. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Yeniche". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

External links