Haquetía in Gibraltar

by Sam Benady


              The Rock of Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704, and almost immediately Moroccan Jews began to settle there (the first Jews to reside openly in the Iberian Peninsula since the Expulsions of 1492 in Spain and 1497 in Portugal). These Jews came mostly from Tetuan, and they brought with them their language, which was based on Spanish, as a large proportion of the Jews of Tetuan were descended from Spanish Jews.

 This immigration occurred in spite of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which ceded Gibraltar to Britain, and in which the Spanish monarch, Philip V, stipulated that Jews and Moors should not be allowed to reside in Gibraltar. However, the Jews were important to the British, as they acted as middlemen in the provision of supplies from Morocco, without which the garrison could not survive.

The Jews of Gibraltar, although now quite a small minority, have been prominent in professional and public life as well as in trade. One of the forgers of modern Gibraltar, the late Sir Joshua Hassan, was Chief Minister of the Rock for many years.

          Other immigrants flooded in from round the Mediterranean and beyond, and in the succeeding years a dialect evolved – “Llanito” or “Giannito” (a term also used for the Gibraltarians themselves). This dialect is based on Andalusian Spanish, with many adapted English words, but also words from Genoese, Portuguese, Arabic, Haquetía and other languages – even German has contributed at least one word: ‘Chuni’= ‘cute’ (from schoene).

          This Gibraltarian vernacular has been the subject of a number of academic studies throughout the years, but I do not believe that any of these has focused on the contribution made by haquetía.


Some of the  words in Haquetía used by all Gibraltarians

Ainear - to look at, eg: ‘Ainea el sahen’ (from Hebrew ’Ain = Eye)

Alcatufa - Chufa, "tiger nut" ( from Arabic).

Bezim - Courage. pl. ‘bezims. (From Hebrew Eggs = testicles)

Camalo -  Porter, Stevedore.   

Chavos - money (’Ochavos’)

Esnoga - Synagogue (from Portuguese)

Hasheo - Gossip

Ma’ot - money (from Hebrew)

Parné - money (from Hebrew ‘parnasá’)

Sahen - ‘neighbour (from Hebrew. Referring to someone in earshot)

Tumá - Lit. ‘dirt’.  Used derisively for the (Catholic) Church: eg: ‘Tengo una tia           muy metida en la tumá.’ - ‘I have a

              very religious aunt.’ Almost certainly used without knowing the literal meaning (from Hebrew)!

Woh! -  Woe -- (from English) eg: ‘Woh por ti!’= Woe to you! ‘Haremos woh= so what?



Phrases in Haquetía used only by (older) Jewish Gibraltarians

Ferasmal - an acronym for 'out of all evil'. An expression of affection.  May carry an ironic meaning, depending on the   

            context and tone of voice.

Dulce lo vivas - 'May you live sweetly' = an expression of courtesy said whenever  sweet refreshments is offered.

Ya hasrá - Expression that laments the loss of something (period, event, etc.)

Tu boca en el cielo - 'May your words be heard in Heaven'

Escapados del mal -  'May you be protected from trouble'--Expression of affection. A common expression of  well- 




Phrases in Haquetía that are used in Gibraltar, but which I had always assumed were vernacular Spanish

Dale que dale - 'without hesitation'; 'at once'

Hoy en día- 'now a days'

Pasar las negras - undergoing a lot of trouble and calamities

Se vió negro -  'enormous efforts'



Gibraltar, March, 2011