Thursday, March 26, 2009

As a Gibraltarian... do you find the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive?

This question has arisen, following on from my post three weeks ago, when I reviewed Garrett Gibbons's excellent Gibraltar Documentary Film.

You can ignore my (perhaps long winded) explanation and just scroll down to the end of this post, where you will be able to vote on a Poll I have included here... in the hope of getting your view on this question. If you wish to read my explanation of how the question has arisen... then read on.

I recently heard from Garrett, telling me that he had finally given the film a title. Garrett has chosen to call his documentary film "The People on the Rock".

I will quickly add that the film is still in 'draft form' and in the process of being produced. Garrett further informs us that the next draft of the his film may not be available until late April, as he is busy trying to finish his BA degree at Brigham Young University in the USA... but, he assures me, it remains on his 'high-priority' list! Good... can' wait!

Anyhow, when I heard of the title Garrett had chosen, I'm afraid I was disappointed. I told Garrett that I didn't think "The People on the Rock" was the best... most descriptive title he could have come up with... and I offered him my own suggestion... "The Llanitos of the Rock of Gibraltar". For me, this is a much more descriptive title of what Garrett's documentary is about.

This, of course, is just my opinion. Ultimately of course... and bearing in mind it IS his film... it's entirely up to him what he chooses to call it.... and I very much look forward to the next draft.. and end product.

The discussion over the title however, has thrown up a question... over the term (or word) "Llanito" (or Yanito).

When Garrett read my suggestion, he graciously said he would "consider my advice" (heis a diplomat our Garrett)... but he added:

"I'd like to use "Llanitos" in the title, but I got chastised by several Gibraltarians for calling them Llanitos... a few people got really upset, telling me that it was a derogatory nickname!"

I have to admit, I was VERY surprised to read his comment! In response, I said:

"I've never heard anything of the kind and find it very surprising that ANY Llanito should take umbrage for being called what we call ourselves!

I would think this sort of sentiment very much in the minority! It doesn't trouble me in the least and no one has ever expressed a negative view on being called a Llanito to me... ever!"

That's really my impression. Perhaps I'm wrong. I often am... and at the end of the day, I have been living away from Gibraltar for quite a few years, (though I did live and work in Gibraltar between '96 and 2002) so it's not inconceivable that feelings may have changed in this regard.... but I doubt that there has been THIS fundamental a change.

Now, if we were talking about the word or term 'Gibo'... then yes... that I would understand if a few (quite a few even) take umbrage with that term. I make my views clear on this subject here: Defining the word or term 'Gibo'.

To reinforce his argument, Garrett asked me to re-look at a portion of his documentary, where a Gibraltarian comments on how he prefers to be referred to... and to my surprise, he feels that 'Llanito'... "es una palabra fea"!

You can see what Garrett is getting at in this excerpt from his documentary film, in the first few seconds of this video, listen to the response by this Gibraltarian, when asked "what does Llanito mean?":

Garrett wonders if this chap's reply is because Garrett is "an outsider"?

"These guys didn't like me throwing around a local term that they use to describe themselves?"

Well... quite possibly but I have to say I am nevertheless surprised to hear this chap... with all due respect to him, saying that "Llanito es una palabra fea". I really am.

For me, it's never been a disparaging term, far from it. The term 'Llanito' reinforces my Gibraltarian identity. I would go further, it's a term that I am proud to be referred to as! In my experience, I think this chap's view is NOT shared widely by Gibraltarians... and it's not I don't think, a generation thing. At 55, I'm more his age myself.

But... this discussion got me thinking... and wondering if it's just me. I wonder if others feel like this fellow does. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise, to set up a Poll, asking the question:

Do you find the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive?
Don't Know
Sometimes (if so when Your comment would be appreciated) free polls

If you choose the fourth option, 'Sometimes', I would appreciate it if you would explain by commenting here, using our comment facility at the end of this post, as it will be interestng to read your views on this further.

I'm sure many Gibraltarians will find this an interesting exercise... and I very much hope you will contribute to the poll. Please also share this with your family, friends, work colleagues... as the widest possible vote will give us the best impression of whether a Gibraltarian finds the term Llanito (or Yanito) offensive.

Thanks in advance for your input! :)

Update - 3rd May 2009

Well... now that the Poll has been running for just over a month, I thought I would post an update.

The results to-date, whilst a little disappointing on the numbers who have voted, is nevertheless fairly emphatic and confirms what I had thought. 25 people have voted so far... and this is the result:

Yes 8% 2
No 76% 19
Don't Know 4% 1
Sometimes 12% 3

Naturally I would have hoped for more votes but for reasons that escape me, many people have chosen not to vote. The page has been viewed 116 times since it was posted. Many of these are visitors from Gibraltar. Many of these page views were probably people who do not qualify (by that I mean not Gibraltarian). A few were also probably returning to check how the poll was going, myself included three or four times. However, I am sorry to say it's still very disappointing that only 25 people bothered to express themselves.

A special thanks to all of you who did bother to vote... and thanks also for your comments, which were very enlightening.

So... I think Garrett will agree, that there really isn't any reason or cause for concern, in choosing to include 'llanito' in the documentary's title.... which is how this question first arose, as this poll indicates (albeit with a very small sample) that the vast majority of Gibraltarians will not be offended.

I won't close the poll... so please feel free to continue to vote as I am still hoping over time, to obtain a wider sample of how Gibraltarians feel about being referred to as Llanito!

Thank you all again!! smile


Garrett said...

I must say, I am interested to see the results as they come in!

Cybernest said...

heh... You and me both Garrett!

I just hope people do vote! Fingers crossed!

John Borda said...

Voted "Sometimes" and commented:

"I think it would depend on the tone of voice used, like so many other 'nicknames'."

Audrey Reading said...

I am very proud to be called "llanita". I have never considered it to be an insult, even when called it by spanish people. I always answer them "con mucha honra". :)

Gibraltarian woman said...

It's a bit like when Prince Harry called someone a 'Paki'. It wasn't said in an insulting way. Likewise,to me, it depends how it's said and who says it.

Shazzbat said...

Por lo que se el termino llanito (o yanito) es una derivacion del italiano Gianni.

Mucha poblacion de Gibraltar proviene de Genova, donde Giovanni o Gianni son nombres muy comunes.

Coniciendo la raiz del gentilicio un gibraltarian no tiene por que sentirse ofendido, y si un espanol lo dice con animo de ofender (que no tiene por que ser asi, Audrey) es que son igual de tontos tanto el espanol que intenta ofender como el gibraltareno que se siente ofendido.


Fofi Falquero said...

I would agree with John Borda who states that it would depend on the 'tone of voice', and in my view, on the 'who', 'when', 'how' and 'why' you were called 'llanito'. Normally it would not bother me, but there could be times when it would.

m.l said...

depends how you say it and in what contecs i've heard them called worse. all names can and will be adapted to be insulting. they also can be be misconstruded. this is where adults and children differ

Anonymous said...

I don't find it offensive at all. That's what we call ourselves and the fact that it's so widely used at the National Day celebrations seems to show that a lot of us don't seem to mind the term. :)

I find the term "Gibbo" a little more offensive, although as someone who doesn't look or sound typical llanita, the name I hated most was "guiri", especially as I was as local as the people who called me that...

Cybernest said...

Hi Kellyinni

'A rose by any other name' springs to mind! :)

I'm glad you see it as I do and you don't take any offence at being referred to as a Llanita.

With the term 'Gibo' or 'Gibbo' I can understand why you might feel a little offended. For me it's like I feel about all these things some of us call or refer to each other as... it's a matter of tone. I've actually titled my blog 'A Gibo's Tale' so as you can see... I have very little problem with it, in fact, I decided to claim it as our own and have embraced the term. That'll mess the detractors and those who may wish to be disparaging up a bit! Here's what I think about the term 'Gibo' in more detail, if you're interested: Defining the word or term 'Gibo'As for 'Guirri'... this is a term normally used by some, not all but some Gibraltarians in reference to British expats in Gibraltar... mostly in the old days referring to members of the Armed Forces, who at times, as we know, have not exactly enamoured themselves with us by their loutish behaviour. Something evident in any garrison town or indeed naval base (and as ex RN myself, I've lived in a few) across the UK or wherever the British armed forces have been based in the old days of Empire.

Why anyone would have referred to you, as a Gibraltarian, by caling you 'guirri' is not only offensive... it's also a misnomer!

The fact is ... at the end of the day, if in doubt, it's probably best if we all just referred to each other as people rather than 'categories'... ethnic or otherwise.

Anyhow... thanks for your comment today!


gibgirl said...

I am a proud llanita and to me it sounds very gypsy and sexy lol.