Monday, November 19, 2018

Why non-Roma business shouldn't use 'Gypsy' in business and product names

The term Gypsy is commonly used in all manner of brand-names, products, and product descriptions. It has become synonymous with a free-spirited, wandering lifestyle, and thus, is evocative for those people who use it. But the use of the term by non-Romani people is incredibly problematic.
Gypsy is an exonym for the Romani people. This means that it was a name given to the people by those external to the culture, in this case, Europeans who mistakenly thought the Romani people were Egyptians, and thus, this became shortened to ‘Gyptian’ and eventually ‘Gypsy’. This takes on other forms too, like Gyppo (or Gippo/Jippo), which have negative connotations, and lends itself to the pejorative ‘gypped’, meaning ‘cheated’ or ‘swindled’. While most people would agree (at least when they become aware of the etymology) that using ‘gypped’ to describe being cheated or swindled is flat-out racist, the use of Gypsy, it would seem, is seen as less clear.

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