Indigenous and Immigrant Identities in Multilingual Israel

D Yitzhaki, C Altman, Z Feldman-Burstein, L Cohen, J Walters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter casts a wide net, both theoretically and methodologically, in an attempt to illus- trate some of the complexity of Israeli multilingualism. It is written against the backdrop of a struggling pluralism which has emerged from statehood and nation-building characterized by 30 years of hegemonic Hebrew dominance. We try to come to grips with the distinctive, even competitive, identities of indigenous and immigrant minorities, drawing from literature in sociolinguistics, sociology of language and social psychology. While the focus is on col- lective identities, we are fully aware that all of the voices portrayed here have strong inter- personal and individual identities which do not find expression in the chapter. The first section provides a theoretical framework in language policy in its examination of the distinction between indigenous and immigrant languages, with a look at the role of Arabic in the Israeli mosaic. The following section considers identity construction among Russian immigrant adolescents. Next, a case study of an Ethiopian college student raises issues of ‘color’ and gender in the context of Israeli ‘soldier’ identity. The last section tells the ‘accidental’ immigrant narrative of an American who was tricked into immigration from a planned vacation to Norway. Diversity is also the hallmark of the methods illustrated here, which include focus groups, discourse analysis and an innovative distinction between soci- opragmatic and psycholinguistic codeswitching
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Multilingual identities
Subtitle of host publicationNew Perspectives on Immigrant Discourse
EditorsInke Du Bois, Nicole Baumgarten
Place of PublicationFrankfurt
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9783653034981
ISBN (Print)9783631629352
StatePublished - 2012


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