Discourse characteristics in the sociolect of repentant criminals

Uri Timor, Rachel Landau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Ex-criminals who are rehabilitated in Yeshivot (Jewish religious academies) for newly religious men in Israel change their language gradually from a criminal sociolect to a religious one typical of the Yeshivot; at the same time they make extensive use of diverse linguistic means to promote the change in their ideology and in their social identity. Discourse analysis of six passages from phenomenological interviews with such penitents exemplify this change in the penitent's language, as well as the purposeful use the repentants make of diverse linguistic resources (semantic, grammatical, syntactic, structural and metalinguistic) to rebuild their worldview and to gain social legitimacy in their new community. These resources include extensive use of religious utterances, use of a criminal sociolect in referring to the criminal past, ellipsis, tag questions, personal pronouns, nominalization, passive voice, anaphora, idiosyncratic use of contrasts, figurative language, negative and positive connotations, intensifiers, modal utterances, and meta-language.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-386
Number of pages24
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Discourse analysis
  • Functions of language
  • Israel
  • Rehabilitation of criminals
  • Repentance
  • Sociolect


Dive into the research topics of 'Discourse characteristics in the sociolect of repentant criminals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this