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Languages of Gibraltar

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Title: Languages of Gibraltar  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Demographics of Gibraltar, Hinduism in Gibraltar, Llévame Donde Nací, History of the Maltese in Gibraltar, Languages of Europe
Collection: Languages of Gibraltar
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Languages of Gibraltar

Languages of Gibraltar
One of the many bilingual signs found in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, printed in both English and Spanish.
Official languages English
Significant unofficial languages Spanish
Main languages British English
Vernaculars Llanito
Minority languages Maghrebi Arabic, Sindhi, Hindi, Maltese, Hebrew
Sign languages British Sign Language
Common keyboard layouts
British (QWERTY)

As a British overseas territory, the sole official language of Gibraltar is English, and it is used by the Government and in schools. The eponymous Gibraltarian English accent is spoken in the territory.

Many of Gibraltar's linguistic influences come from its neighbours, Spain and Morocco.

Most locals are bilingual, also speaking Spanish, due to Gibraltar's proximity to Spain. Most Gibraltarians converse in Llanito, their vernacular which is mostly based on Andalusian Spanish, but greatly influenced by other Mediterranean languages. However, because of the varied mix of ethnic groups which reside there, other languages such as Arabic are also spoken on The Rock.


  • Llanito 1
  • Spanish 2
  • Maghrebi Arabic 3
  • Other languages 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6


Llanito (pronounced ) is the main local vernacular, and is unique to Gibraltar. It consists of an eclectic mix of Andalusian Spanish and British English, as well as languages such as Maltese, Portuguese, Italian of the Genoese variety and Haketia.

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 and Hebrew origin. It also typically involves code-switching to English.

The term Llanito is also used as an alternative demonym to Gibraltarian.


Over the course of its history, the Rock of Gibraltar has changed hands many times, among Spanish, Moorish, and British hands, although it has been consistently under British control since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Before the British takeover, Spanish was widely spoken, but afterwards as most residents left the Rock, the language had a much smaller population (in 1753 there were just 185 Spaniards, and only 134 in 1777[1]). However, the border with Spain has been opened since 1985, allowing easier travel in and out of Spain, one of the factors which has given Andalusian Spanish considerable presence in Gibraltar. In 2001, there were 326 people of Spanish nationality in Gibraltar, and a large number of "Frontier Workers" who commute there for work.

Maghrebi Arabic

Owing to its close proximity to Morocco and Algeria, Arabic-speaking North African countries, Maghrebi Arabic is spoken by the Moroccan and other North African minorities on The Rock. In 2001, there were 961 Moroccans in Gibraltar.

Other languages

Hindi and Sindhi is also spoken by the Indian community of Gibraltar. Maltese, a language which was widely used in Gibraltar up until the late 19th century, and is still spoken by some families of Maltese descent. Similarly, Genoese was spoken in Catalan Bay well into the 19th century, dying out in the early decades of the twentieth. Hebrew is also spoken by the Jewish community.

See also


  1. ^ Census of Gibraltar, 2001
  • Ethnologue entry
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