Intergenerational transmission of traditional Arabic dialects in Israel

Letizia Cerqueglini

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Cite as: Cerqueglini, L. (2018, December). Intergenerational transmission of traditional Arabic dialects in Israel. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

I compare patterns of intergenerational transmission of traditional dialects (TD) across different Arabic-speaking communities in Israel. Traditional local Arabic dialects – spoken by the elders above the age of 70 – include Bedouin, rural, and urban varieties, to a great extent not mutually intelligible. Cross-dialectal mutual intelligibility increases among younger people working in public institutions or state companies and educated in standard Arabic, Hebrew and other modern languages. University life largely contributes to the constitution of a koineized Palestinian educated standard, wherein phonetic and morphological features of each community diminish and fade. Specific lexical inventories that describe the traditional material life, cultural practices, and geographic milieus of every linguistic community are also vanishing under the influence of a modern life style. I compare three dialectal groups: the urban Christian Arabic of Nazareth (Galilee), the rural Muslim Arabic of Kfar Qāsim (Muṯallaṯ) and the Bedouin Arabic of Kseyfeh (Negev). I analyze the following parameters among elders and young people: recognition of TD as part of the identity; motivation for transmitting/learning TD; social factors that prevent/foster TD transmission; social occasions of TD transmission; impact of the number of speakers and of the use of the dialect in literature and media on TD transmission.