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Llanito or Yanito (pronounced ) is a form of Gibraltarian Spanish heavily laced with words from English and other languages like Genoese, spoken in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar.[1] It consists of an eclectic mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English, marked by a great deal of code switching and loanwords from Italian and many other Mediterranean languages and dialects. However, it does not meet the criteria for being a creole, but is a dialect of Spanish with many loan words.[2] Spanglish is how to briefly describe the Gibraltarian colloquial language, known as Llanito.

Gibraltarians also call themselves Llanitos.


  • Language 1
  • Examples 2
  • Broadcasting 3
  • Film 4
  • Demonym 5
  • Etymology 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9
    • Dictionaries 9.1


Andalusian Spanish is the main constituent of Llanito, but 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).[3] Its other main language constituents are Maltese and Portuguese. It often also involves code-switching from Spanish to English. 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).[4]

To some outsiders who only speak either English or 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 English words with an Andalusian flavour. For example, bacon is pronounced beki; cake, keki; battery, batteria; and a policeman is known as la parma, and porridge is called kuecaro (a Spanish-sounding version of the brand Quaker Oats]. Most Gibraltarians, especially those with higher education, also speak standard Spanish of both Andalusian and Castilian dialects and standard English of the British English variety.[5]

According to the Italian scholar Giulio Vignoli, Llanito originally -in the first decades of the 19th century- was full of Genoese words, later substituted mainly by Spanish words and by 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 Tetuan and Tangiers and the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa.

Even though 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.[6]


Llanito: Hombre, I'm telling you ke no pue...
Spanish: Hombre, te digo que no puedes...
English: Man, I'm telling you (that) you can't...

Llanito: No pueo cocé la gallina porqué la tengo frisa...
Spanish: No puedo cocer el pollo porque está congelado...
English: I can't cook the chicken because it's frozen...

Llanito: Allé tome lanch depue 'e la demontrasion...
Spanish: Ayer comí después de la manifestación...
English: Yesterday I had lunch after the demonstration...

Llanito: Ay 'n call pa ti.
Spanish: Tienes una llamada.
English: There's a call for you.

Llanito: Si, pero at the end of the day...
Spanish: Sí, pero a fin de cuentas...
English: Yes, but at the end of the day...

Llanito: Te llamo p'atrá anyway
Spanish: Te devuelvo la llamada de todas maneras
English: I’ll call you back anyway

Llanito: Ke piha!...
Spanish: ¡Que suerte!...
English: How lucky!...


The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation has also aired 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"[7] (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 demonym of Gibraltar is Gibraltarians. However, the people of Gibraltar may also be referred to as Llanitos (female Llanitas). This term is commonly used in the neighbouring towns of La Línea, San Roque, Algeciras and the rest of the Campo de Gibraltar, as well as in Gibraltar itself. When speaking in English, the people of Gibraltar tend to use the word Gibraltarians to refer to themselves but when speaking in Spanish they prefer to use the word Llanitos rather than the Spanish name for their official demonym, Gibraltareños.

The truncated term Llanis is also used by the people of Gibraltar, where it can be heard all around the territory and proudly chanted in songs during the annual Gibraltar National Day.


The etymology of the term Llanito is uncertain. In Spanish, Llanito means "little flatland" and has been interpreted as "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 important (alternative, but widely supported by Italian scholars like Giulio Vignoli[8]) 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". Indeed during the late 18th and early 19th centuries the majority of the male civilian population of Gibraltar came from Genoa and Gianni was a common Italian forename.

See also


  1. ^ "Culture of Gibraltar". Everyculture. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  2. ^ Levey, David. 2008. Language Change and Variation in Gibraltar. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  3. ^ "Gibraltar Ethnologue profile". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2007-09-21. 
  4. ^ "Linense Dictionary". La Línea de la Concepción. Retrieved 2007-10-05. 
  5. ^ A New New English: language, politics, and identity in Gibraltar
  6. ^ Ángela Alameda Hernández. The discursive construction of Gibraltarian identity in the printed press: A critical discourse analysis on the Gibraltar issue (PhD Thesis) (PDF).  
  7. ^
  8. ^ Vignoli, Giulio. "Gli Italiani Dimenticati"; Chapter: Gibilterra

External links

  • Llanito alphabet and pronunciation at Omniglot
  • A searchable database of Gibraltarian sayings and street signs
  • (newspaper)PanoramaA weekly comical editorial in exaggerated code-switching Llanito by the daily


  • Vallejo, Tito. "Online Llanito dictionary". 
  • Manuel Cavilla, OBE (1978), Diccionario Yanito (in Español), MedSUN (Mediterranean SUN Publishing Co Ltd) - Gibraltar 
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