Monday the 17th of June, 2019
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Spotlight on Gibraltar

By Christina Rosa (Ziggurat Teacher)
16/02/2009
Spotlight on Gibraltar

In this issue we are going to look at an English-speaking territory which is very close to home – Gibraltar. Located in the southeast of the Iberian peninsula, bordering the Spanish region of Andalusia, this tiny self-governing area of barely 6.8 square kilometres has belonged to Britain since 1713, when it was ceded by Spain.

With a population of approximately 28.875, the Gibraltarians are a people of mixed origins. Predominantly descendants of the different Mediterranean cultures that immigrated here over the course of 300 hundred years, there are strong Genoese, Maltese and Portuguese influences in the form of surnames and words that have been incorporated into the local language. Gibraltar also has a significant Jewish community as well as many descendants of non-European cultures like India and Morocco. Nevertheless, perhaps what stands out the most is the interesting fusion of Spanish and British cultures.

The official lang-uage of Gibraltar is English, used by the government, the media, in business and in schools.However, most inhabitants speak Spanish and are totally bilingual. Due to the peculiar circumstances of the territory, an interesting local language exists, called Llanito. It is mainly Andalusian Spanish with a heavy British English influence, but also has many words from Italian (Genoese dialect), Portuguese, Maltese and Hebrew, among others.

Llanito is not only the name of the local language, but the term the locals use to refer to themselves (in Spanish).  Many sources say that LLanito means Los de la Llanura, or “people from the flatlands”.

However, there is a theory that the term derives from Gianni, a typical name in the territory back when waves of Genoese immigrants were arriving. The name was made diminutive to Giannito and then hispanicized to LLanito. Another version of this theory is that it derives from the English “Johnny.” Either way, the Llanitos (British citizens but with strong geographical, cultural and familial ties to Andalusia) have a profound sense of identity and a curious language indeed.

Some llanito words:
- Cachonfinga: cachondeo (“deo” meaning “dedo” and translated into the English “finger.”)
- Tipa: teapot (tetera)
- Pisup: Pea soup (sopa de guisantes)

GLOSSARY
Issue - número
Close to home – cercano; familiar (lit. cerca de casa)
Self-governing - autónoma
Barely - a penas
Over the course - a lo largo de; en el transcurso de
Jewish - judío
Nevertheless - sin embargo; no obstante
Stand out - destacar
Hebrew – hebreo
Sources – fuentes (de información)
Waves - oleadas
Either way - de todos modos; en cualquier caso
Indeed – sin duda; desde luego (en este contexto)