Words and Stones

Daniel Lefkowitz

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780195121902
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199788347 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics

Words and Stones

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Social and ethnic identity are nowhere more enmeshed with language than in Israel. This book explores the politics of identity in Israel through an analysis of the social life of language. By examining the social choices Israelis make when they speak, and the social meanings such choices produce, the book reveals how Israeli identities are negotiated through language. It studies three major languages and their role in the social lives of Israelis: Hebrew, the dominant language, Arabic, and English. It reveals their complex interrelationship by showing how the language a speaker chooses to use is as important as the language they choose not to use — in the same way that a claim to an Israeli identity is simultaneously a claim against other, opposing identities. The result is an analysis of how the identity of “Israeliness” is linguistically negotiated in the three-way struggle among Ashkenazi (Jewish), Mizrahi (Jewish), and Palestinian (Arab) Israelis. This book's ethnography of language — use is both thoroughly anthropological and thoroughly linguistic — provides an examination of the role of language in Israeli society.

Keywords: Israel; language; identity; politics; Hebrew; Arabic; English; Ashkenazi Israelis; Mizrahi Israelis; Palestinian Israelis

Book.  330 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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