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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quinqui is the jargon of a reduced and possibly vanishing semi-nomadic group present mainly in the northern half of Spain known as quinquilleros ("tinkers"), although they prefer to be called mercheros.

The language is an old form of Castilian, Germanía, and is said to be related to dialects of the Spanish Roma Caló. The term apparently comes from the word quincalleríaironmongery, from the group of ironmongers who originated this cant. Because they are frequently blamed for petty crime, in modern Spanish the word can also mean delinquent, petty thief, or hoodlum. They consider themselves apart from the gitanos.

Many Spaniards ignore the existence of Quinquis as a cultural group or ethnicity, simply associating the word with marginality and low-life in Spain, in such a way that the origin of the word quinqui is sometimes supposed to be the English word kinky.

There are many theories on the origins of Quinquis. They are considered to be:

  • The descendants of peasants who lost their land in the 16th century.
  • The product of a mix of Roma and non-Roma populations.
  • The descendants of Muslims who turned to nomadism to escape persecution.
  • A mixture of the above three.

The most famous figure of the Mercheros is Eleuterio Sánchez, aka El Lute, a petty thief on the most-wanted list of the Spanish police who became an author and lawyer.

See also


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