Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern edge of the Iberian Peninsula. The territory is well-known for its multicultural and rich history, as well as for its strategic position and the polemic regarding its sovereignty. Gibraltar presents a unique cultural, social and linguistic situation and therefore constitutes the perfect environment for sociolinguistic studies and studies about language contact situations.
The linguistic situation of Gibraltar has undergone big changes: from an extended diglossia with British English as the “High Variety” and Andalusian Spanish as the “Low Variety” to what could be better described as dilalia; meaning that the structural and functional separation between the standard and local varieties, as well as the domains and specific pragmatic functions of the languages are no longer so clear. Speakers shift from a dialectal variant to a standard one adapting to the situation and speakers. In the center of the process stands Yanito/Llanito as the local codeswitching variety originated from the contact of Mediterranean languages with English and mainly characterized by the local codeswitching variety between English and Spanish.
My research project focuses attention on the emergence of the local codeswitching variety among young adults (16-35 years) in Gibraltar and it also analyses the role and functionality of Yanito/Llanito in new generations of speakers which have been almost ignored in previous literature on the area. From a sociolinguistic perspective, I conduct an analysis of codeswitching from different angles or levels – namely a structural and a conversational/interactional level – in order to arrive to a more holistic picture of the phenomenon. I also make use of strategies of discourse analysis to explore the relationship between this local variety and identity.
For the purpose of the project, I follow an innovative online and face-to-face methodology based on focus groups and a guideline of conversation. In this way, I can create the perfect atmosphere for an informal conversation between young Gibraltarians. At the same time, this gives me the possibility to explore topics of interest for my study without my own presence as an interviewer.»
(photo M. Rodríguez García, 2020)
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