Spanish Language Day: Llanito

Today is Spanish language day.  Habíamos pensado de escribir algo en español but we thought we’d mix it up!  Welcome to our first blog en llanito.  Yep, today we honour lo nuestro.  The way we change de un lenguaje a otro mid sentence, como no terminano la palabra (see what I did?) and how we have our own unique words and even dictionary. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links on this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you click on the link and make a purchase we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more here. What Is Llanito? Whilst the official language in Gibraltar is English, unofficially y entre amigos or socially, we speak what is known as Llanito. Llanito is a mix of Spanish, English and vocabulary which hails from our Genoese, Hebrew, Maltese and Portuguese heritage.  The Llanito language tambien tiene palabras from Haketia, a dialect once used by Sephardic Jews in Morocco as well as the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Meilla. The interesting thing about Llanito is the code switching, la manera que hablamo andalu one moment but then just as easily switch to English.  Also, the speed in which we speak which causes those trying to learn Spanish in Gibraltar no end of problems.  Not only do we speak at a hundred miles per hour pero the fact que usually none of our sentences are fully Spanish or includes words which will not be used in Spain is not the perfect conduit for learning. History Del Llanito Language Back in the 19th Century the British were starting to build the dockyards.  To do this they needed a larger work pool than the local population could provide.  Spanish, Genoese and Portuguese labourers made up the majority of the workforce y de aqui, according to local historian, Tito Vallejo is where mucha de la palabra llanita came from.  The issue was que como nadie se entendia, words were pronounced how they sounded to the various workers and from there a unique language was born. Another contributing factor to the birth of the Llanito language was the fact that up until the Second World War there was no legal obligation to attend school so many children did not learn English.  At the time, the predominant language in Gibraltar was very much Spanish.  So much so, that, according to Mr Vallejo, English was on the verge of disappearing. The introduction of the Irish Christian Brothers and Loreto Nuns into the local schools and the evacuation of local families away from Gibraltar during the War was the start of the increased use of the English language in Gibraltar. Post WWII Returning to Gibraltar after an extended period in places like England and Ireland during the War, local children had been exposed to the English language to an extent that they had not previously.  Upon their eventual return there was also a change to the laws which meant que education was now compulsory and English therefore became much more prevalent given that it is the language in which lessons are taught in all local schools. That said, for decades after the War lo que se escuchaba en lo patio when kids were playing or whenever there was un pati (party) or social gathering was Llanito.  That could be because at the time, whilst our exposure to Spain was limited due to the closure of the border from 1969 to 1982 our TV and radio offerings were  mainly in Spanish. Why Is Llanito Dying? Years back when I started working I remember a work colleague telling me that her kids did not speak Spanish.  I was shocked y no comprendia como eso podia pasa!.  I mean, as adults we continuously switch from one language to the other.  Como no aprendian lo niño lo mismo?  I actually told this work colleague que I thought it was a shame that she was not ensuring that her kids learn both languages.  Bueno, el que escupe pa riba le cae pa bajo!  Ma llanito que eso no se que hay!  This literally means “he who spits up will end up with spit on their face” or perhaps a better simile would be what goes around comes around. Effect of TV Cuando my generation were small lo unico muñequito (cartoons) que podiamo mira en English were between 7pm and 8.30pm cuando echaban algo en GBC.  I remember always running up from el patio to watch things like Thundercuts, He-Man, Fraggle Rock (yep, I’m an 80s child after all!) pero por la tarde and during holidays when we could watch TV all day then the only offerings were in Spanish.  This meant que lo niño teniamos the best of both worlds and we learnt English and Spanish simultaneously. Unfortunately this is no longer the case y  el problema es que ahora, our unique language is slowly dying. Nowadays our children literally have hundreds of TV channels to choose from. Not that they watch anything like cartoons or films porque parece que lo unico que ven en el televishon e YouTube. Mindless crap posted by YouTubers que se creen que e fact! My kids are continuously swiping on their tablets whenever there is something which is not of interest to them, giving a clip seconds to capture their attention. Everything they watch is in English. Indeed it is mostly American English.  This means that not only are they not exposed to the Spanish language aparte de lo once a week lessons en la ecuela  or cuando they listen to my husband and I speak, but, their English words include things such as candy, trash and wahter!!! How Can We Save Our Language? Saving the llanito language will be a difficult process porque our schooling, given that we follow the British system, needs to be in English.  In addition, the closure of the Instituto Cervantes in Gibraltar will also have had a negative

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