Code-switching

Language in Gibraltar: A Tale of the Tongue of Two Errant Mothers

by Craig Evans

A warm summer’s stroll along a typical British high street, familiar shop facades passing by -Mothercare, BHS, Monsoon – and then the sudden loud report of cannon fire: ‘I just wanna pop into Marks and Sparks!’ The broad Yorkshire accent sounded unreal, as if it were being put on, but there was nothing in the flushed solemn face of the speaker to suggest that she was pretending. I paused to listen out for others. Fragments of Estuary English drifted by, but mostly my ears were met with a sea of Spanish, or at least what sounded like Spanish. The British high street receded from my thoughts, and then I remembered where I actually was: the south coast of Spain, on a small peninsula poking out towards Africa. This is Gibraltar, mid-October.

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