Wednesday, March 25, 2009


In the “comments” to my recent blogs both Cybernest and Jocelyn mentioned Llanito – the national patois (or maybe it’s a language) of Gibraltar. I have also referred to it in my blogs and today I thought I’d bring you the current regular column, ‘Calentita’, that appears in the Gibraltar daily newspaper ‘Panorama’ (see link section for access).

Dr Joseph Garcia mentioned in his comments here on the Genoese of Catalan Bay that ‘Calentita’ is the national dish of Gibraltar. Well the ‘Calentita’ who carries on a regular conversation with her friend on the hot topics of the day on the Rock is with doubt also a “National Dish”.

About 15 years ago when I was recording an episode of “If It’s In The Press, It’s Got To Be True” I gave a copy of ‘Calentita’ to Lola Castaños to read out during the show. As her name suggests Lola is Spanish but speaks English fluently, indeed she teaches our language in school. She studied the script intently and then looked very puzzled. “I know all the words,” she said “but what does it mean?” Well that’s Llanito for you, a mix of Spanish and English but with a Gibraltar twist.

You might think that is challenging enough but to fully appreciate the ‘Calentita’ column you also need to know what’s happening on the Rock as it’s very topical. Anyway, have a go, and enjoy!


Blimey when I heard that the Bishop was trying to regain lost ground, I thought que he had joined our campaign to claim the Campo de Gibraltar, porque let's face it, el Campo must have belonged to our Gibraltar when it was acquired.

Que agudo, mi querida Cynthia. I was less ambitious, y me crei que the claim was for the Neutral Ground.

Pues mira, our claim should start with el Neutral Ground, although I don't know como queda eso después del airport agreement.

No me hables del airport, que mira lo que se armo en el Parliament entre el Chief Minestra y el Picapiedra when a question about el airport was asked.

Verdad, hablaron de unos spherical balls and who had the biggest ones. Yo pense que estaban hablando de la patuca de la Caleta y cosas de esa, pero me puse mas colorada que un tomate cuando alguien me dijo que it was something else.

De colorao nada, my dear, mira lo que le paso a un tal Fava, según dijo el ex yanito Minister of Defence quite frankly.

Piano, piano, or should we say piani, piani?

Speaking about matters of defence, el Shoemaker has now upset al Oh!Bama, saliéndose de Kosovo at full speed.

A lo mejor es que se entero que Gibraltarian soldiers have been there, y le ha caido mal, who knows.

It shows que nosotros estamos con NATO and if the Spanish Governation is not, I imaginate que that gives us some Brownie points, verdad?

Claro que si. If I were the Chief Minestra I would invite Oh!Bama to visit us, lo mismo que Eisenhower did during the Second World War.

That would be a great idea, porque after la princesa we need a President to come here, porque no?

Como se entere el SinLuce le entra un patitu, valiente tío otra vez he has been attacking our Gibraltar.

Yo le mandaba una bonbilla para que se ilumine, y una copia our plan to claim the Campo de Gibraltar.

Oh well, cómprate un military helmet porque no vaya a estallar el Third World War. Ta, ta for now.”


Prospero said...

Oh, no, what a thing! This takes me back to my childhood: I was criado 'bilingually' in a Spanish-speaking country pero at English schools -not Gibraltar. At school we used to do the local curriculum (Spanish) in the morning, and O levels in the afternoon, so we increased the amount of the opposite language so we wouldn't be understood by the teachers (shades of prison-speak).
It was only when I went to estudiar in London that I and several schoolmates nos dimos cuenta that in order to be understood by the Brits, we had to eliminate the Spanish. Claro, we had fun talking like this in public, probably getting looks similar to the ones 'yanitos' (I have seen it spelled like this) get today.

Cybernest said...

ha ha... Good post Sancho... but then I would think so no? :)

Calentita, our actual 'national dish'... is indeed delicious (which reminds me I haven't enjoyed one for a while)!

However, this 'Calentita' who writes this often highly amusing column in Panorama... if one met 'her' personally, I don't think one would find 'her' as delicious or appetising.. but then, each to his/her own 'gout' I always say! :)

Nevertheless, thanks for highlighting our language for your readers. I hope they can make 'head or tails' of it!

Anyone wanting to read/learn more... can find plenty on the Llanito here!

Saludos! :)

Sancho said...

Apart from the excellent link by Cybernest Panorama used to also publish a Llanito (yes it is also written Yanito) dictionary. Email them via their website,
It has also struck me that the Britons living on the various Costas are also developing a patois of their own. In a normal English sentence they will refer to basura, Mercado, Ayuntamiento and so on –words that would not be recognizable to the average Brit. From such small beginnings languages grow.

Anonymous said...

About ten years ago when the Gibraltar bank Hambros was taken over by SG I was sitting in reception. One of the British staff told me they were now having French lessons so they could communicate with SG more easily. What he wanted to know - jokingly -was when were they going to teach the Gibraltarian staff English. Of course Gibraltarians speak perfect English and Spanish (or rather Andaluz) but in their day to day converstaions they fall back on Llanito which would be confusing to the English or Spanish ear

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