Conference "Sociolinguistic situation in Gibraltar: English, Spanish, Yanito"

Lucía Loureiro Porto and Cristina Suárez Gómez (Universitat de les Illes Balears)


Miércoles 26 de abril de 2017, 9-10h en el Salón de Grados del Edificio Ramon Llull

Persona de contacto: Dra. Cristina Suárez (

Recent studies on the sociolinguistic situation of Gibraltar show that English has become the main language among the youngest generations of Gibraltarians (Levey 2008; Weston 2013). However, the situation has not always been like that. Older generations are not considered so proficient in English, and Spanish is still a dominant language among them. In fact, most of the Gibraltarian population can be proficient in English, Spanish with an Andalusian accent, and Yanito, a local vernacular language that has emerged as a result of code-switching from Spanish and English, with minor influences of Italian, Hebrew and Arabic (cf. Moyer 1998; Weston 2011, 2013; Levey 2008, 2015).

It can be difficult to pin down exactly when English became the main language for younger Gibraltarians. A number of reasons have been discussed as the main causes for this decline in the use of Spanish, especially amongst the youngest generations, and this is a subject that has given rise to an intense debate (Levey 2008, 2015; Weston 2013). Relevant socio-historical factors have been used to justify the rise of English as the dominant language, as is the case of the blockade of the frontier during Franco’s regime (1969-1982), but this has been recently discarded by local scholars such as Jennifer Ballantine (Director of the Gibraltar Garrison Library, part of the recently created University of Gibraltar), who considers that the evacuation of Gibraltarian civilians to the UK during WWII should be taken into account to justify the Anglicization of the Gibraltarian population. In this talk we will illustrate the current sociolinguistic situation with examples of the different varieties coexisting in this tiny, though linguistically invaluable, territory of the UK in the Iberian Peninsula.



Levey, David. 2008. Language Change and Variation in Gibraltar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Levey, David.2015. Gibraltar English. In: Jeffrey P. Williams, Edgar W. Schneider, Peter Trudgill & Daniel Schreier (eds),The Lesser-Known Varieties of English vol 2, 51-69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Moyer, Melissa G. 1998. Bilingual conversation strategies in Gibraltar. In: Peter Auer (ed.),Code–Switching in Conversation: Language, Interaction and Identity, 215–234. New York: Routledge.

Weston, David. 2011. Gibraltar’s position in the Dynamic Model of Postcolonial English. EnglishWorld-Wide32(3): 338-367.

Weston, David. 2013. Code-switching variation in Gibraltar. International Journal of Bilingualism 17(1): 3-22.

Data de l'esdeveniment: 26/04/2017

Data de publicació: Sun Mar 26 17:49:00 CEST 2017