The majority of Gibraltar's population speaks Llanito.
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Llanito or Yanito (Spanish pronunciation: [ɟʝaˈnito]) is a form of Andalusian Spanish heavily laced with words from English and other languages, such as Ligurian; it is spoken in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. It is commonly marked by a great deal of code switching between Andalusian Spanish and British English and by the use of Anglicisms and loanwords from other Mediterranean languages and dialects.
The English language is becoming increasingly dominant in Gibraltar, with the younger generation speaking little or no Llanito despite learning Spanish in school.
Llanito is a Spanish word meaning "little plain". Gibraltarians also call themselves Llanitos.
The etymology of the term Llanito is uncertain, and there are a number of theories about its origin. In Spanish, llanito means "little flatland" and one interpretation is that it refers to the "people of the flatlands". It is thought that the inhabitants of La Línea with important social and economic ties with Gibraltar, were actually the first to be referred to as Llanitos since La Línea lies in the plain and marsh land surrounding The Rock.
Another theory for the origin of the word is that it is a diminutive of the name Gianni: "gianito", pronounced in Genoese slang with the "g" as "j". During the late 18th century 34% of the male civilian population of Gibraltar came from Genoa and Gianni was a common Italian forename. To this day, nearly 20% of Gibraltarian surnames are Italian in origin. It has also been speculated that the term comes from the English name "Johnny".
It has also been hypothesized that the term originated as a reference to the language of the people, with llanito originally referring to the "plain language" spoken by ordinary Gibraltarians.
The most influential periods for the formation of Llanito are:
Andalusian Spanish from the surrounding Campo de Gibraltar is the main constituent of Llanito, but it is also heavily influenced by British English. However, it borrows words and expressions of many other languages, with over 500 words of Genoese (Ligurian) medieval dialect (with additionally some of Hebrew origin via Judaeo-Spanish). Its other main language constituents are Maltese and Portuguese. It often also involves code-switching (using different languages for different sentences) and code mixing (using different languages for different words in the same sentence) from Spanish to English. Caló borrowings have been lost. Some Llanito words are also widely used in the neighbouring Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción (due to the influx of people from La Línea working in Gibraltar over many years).
To some outsiders who speak either only English or only Spanish, Llanito may sound incomprehensible, as speakers appear to switch languages in mid-sentence, but to people who are bilingual in both languages, it can sound interesting and unique. One feature of the language is the pronunciation of Anglicisms with an Andalusian flavour. For example, "bacon" is pronounced beki; "cake", keki (although these particular words are not prevalent today); and porridge is called quecaró (a hispanicisation of the brand Quaker Oats). Most Gibraltarians, especially those with higher education, also speak standard Spanish with Andalusian pronunciations and standard English of a British English variety. For example, "Gibraltar" may be pronounced in English within an English sentence and in Spanish within a Spanish sentence.
Like other Andalusian varieties, Llanito is marked by high rates of final /n/ velarisation, neutralisation and elision of pre-consonantal and word-final /l/ and /r/, and reduction of final /s/. One difference from surrounding dialects is that Gibraltarians tend to maintain this high rate of reduction of final consonants even in very elevated registers, whereas Andalusians would try to adopt a more neutral pronunciation. Llanito has undergone some degree of lexical restructuring as a result of its reduction of final consonants and the unofficial status of Spanish. For example, túnel 'tunnel' is often pronounced [ˈtune], and its plural form may be pronounced as [ˈtune(h)] instead of [ˈtunele(h)].
According to the Italian scholar Giulio Vignoli, Llanito originally, in the first decades of the 19th century, was full of Genoese words, later replaced by mainly Spanish and some English words.
Llanito has significant Jewish influence, because of a long-standing Jewish population in Gibraltar. They introduced words and expressions from Haketia, a largely extinct Judeo-Spanish language spoken by the Sephardic communities of Northern Morocco such as in Tetuan and Tangiers, and the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.
Although Llanito is seldom written, a Llanito dictionary, Diccionario Yanito, was published in 1978 by Manuel Cavilla, and in 2001 Tito Vallejo published The Yanito Dictionary. Including Place Names and Yanito Anecdotes.
Although Llanito is largely based on the colloquial Spanish spoken in the Campo de Gibraltar, there are numerous elements beyond code-switching to English which make it unique. These are as follows.
They may be false friends or involve an informal playfulness.
Llanito frequently uses verbal expressions with para atrás, or p'atrás, mirroring use of English phrasal verbs ending in "back". These expressions are meaningless in standard Spanish.
Usage of p'atrás expressions is also widespread in US Spanish, including in Isleño Spanish. P'atrás expressions are unique as a calque of an English verbal particle, since other phrasal verbs are almost never calqued into Spanish. Because of this, and because p'atrás expressions are both consistent with Spanish structure and distinctly structured to their English equivalents, they are likely a result of a conceptual, not linguistic loan.
The word liqueribá in Llanito means regaliz ("liquorice") in Spanish, stemming from the English "liquorice bar".
Many Llanito terms have been introduced into the Andalusian Spanish dialect of the bordering city La Línea de la Concepción, where the resulting dialect is known as Linense. However, according to Gibraltarian linguist Tito Vallejo, a few words common throughout Spain may be of Llanito origin, notably chachi meaning "cool" or "brilliant" (from Winston Churchill) and napia meaning "big nose" from the Governor Robert Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala. Churchill was associated with foreign imports from the United Kingdom which were highly prized in Gibraltar and, according to Vallejo, Lord Napier had a particularly big nose.
However, linguists also propose chachi to be a contraction of the Caló term chachipén meaning "truth", since this language is the source of a significant proportion of Spanish slang.
The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation has broadcast some programmes in Llanito, including Talk About Town, a discussion series in which three presenters discuss local affairs, from the need to replace a street sign to important political affairs.
Pepe's Pot was a cookery programme which also used Llanito.
A documentary film, People of the Rock: The Llanitos of Gibraltar (2011) discusses Llanito speech characteristics, history and culture. Notable interviews include Pepe Palmero (of GBC's Pepe's Pot), Kaiane Aldorino (Miss World 2009), and Tito Vallejo (author of The Llanito Dictionary).
The official demonyms of Gibraltar are Gibraltarians in English, and gibraltareños in Spanish. The people of Gibraltar are also referred to as llanitos (feminine: llanitas) in Gibraltar and the neighbouring towns of La Línea, San Roque, Algeciras and the rest of the Campo de Gibraltar. The people of Gibraltar tend to call themselves Gibraltarians in English, but the informal llanitos/as when speaking Spanish.
The truncated term llanis is also used by the people of Gibraltar, and heard in Gibraltar National Day songs.