‘Llanito’ has nothing to do with Gibraltar itself

Dear Sir,

It was enlightening to read Mr. Ken Westmoreland's article of Panorama of the 9th of May 2019 titled: Let's Learn Llanito. Page 7, which I found to be overall, informative. 

But by way of Gibraltar's historical information I wish to inform Mr. Westmoreland about the discrepancy of the word Llanito/Yanito. Interestingly on the subject of those words and more, in 1978 a 48 page booklet called 'Diccionario Yanito' was compiled by the late Mr. Manuel Cavilla.

Mr. Cavilla explains among many things, that against what many could suppose the appellative (name/title) 'Yanito' is not considered offensive by the Gibraltarians, which is employed on a daily basis, on the contrary. For the majority is like it said, one denomination of origin. Therefore it is not strange that this book has been given the title 'Diccionario Yanito' (Yanito Dictionary) in this collection of Gibraltarian words.

Mr. Cavilla continues to inform and explain that at the beginning of XIX century the Italian immigrants were the most numerous and had established their residence in Gibraltar, and that they reached to constitute more than half the population, to such a point that the 'Bandos' (the written) communications of the governor of the plaza (fortress) were published in English and Italian for its better and major propagation.

During the first two decades of the century the dialect of these Italian immigrants spoke originated in its majority from Liguri and passed to be the idiom/language of the town.

Giovani, it's diminutive Gianna, is a baptismal name popular with Italians (Johnny) like Juan between Spaniards, and it is supposedly probable that by those years Gianna diminutive past to be common denominator, firstly with the Italians and with time with the totality of the inhabitants of the Rock.

The Spaniards who had to live with Italians and get along with them, could have pronounced 'Yani' (Gianni) and not 'Llani' as an affectionate 'Yanito' diminutive. (in other words meaning Giannito) which is easier to pronounce than 'Gibraltarenito'.

So, Mr. Westmoreland with my utmost respect to you, while the wording 'Llanito' has no proper etymology and no reason of being, the word 'Yanito' does according to Mr. Cavilla OBE. Furthermore it is also of my understanding that there used to be a time when Spaniards working in Gibraltar lived in flat land off the nearby Spanish hills. They were described as being from 'El Llano' and hence leading to the use of 'Llanitos'. It has nothing to do with Gibraltar itself or the concept of the British Gibraltarian.

Thanking you.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr. Joseph Lezano