Universidade de Vigo
Universitat de les Illes Balears






Gibraltar has a population of approximately 30,000 and covers an area of some 6 km2 at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Is has been subject to British sovereignty since 1713, when English became the official language. The use of English was at first restricted to the military sphere and among the British themselves, who having arrived in the area, naturally came into contact with Spanish, the official language of Gibraltar since 1462. English soon became the language used in most official spheres, and the language, hence, which had to be learnt by anyone with professional aspirations. This was especially the case after attempts by Spain to regain Gibraltar by force, first in the 19th century and then during Franco’s regime (1968), fostering a strong “Hispanophobia” in the territory which persists to this day. Nevertheless, due to Spanish roots of part of the population, as well as for obvious geographic reasons, Spanish remains one of the languages of Gibraltar, spoken with its own distinct Andalusian accent. In fact, the modern day population of Gibraltar can be described as a very homogeneous ethnic group, relatively competent in both English and Spanish, but who also speak Yanito. This is the local vernacular language which identifies Gibraltarians and which has emerged as a result of code-switching mainly from Spanish and English, but also with minor influences from Italian, Hebrew, and Arabic.


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