Words, Values and Identities: The Israeli Prison Argot (Jargon)

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The spoken discourse of male prisoners, and especially their use of epithets, labels and categorization reflect the values, identities, social structure and hierarchy among the members of the prison subculture, and is shown, by various studies as well as the current research, to be a valuable resource for the examination and understanding of inmates' sub-culture. 460 hours of interviews with 151 male prisoners in Israel provided a linguistic inventory of over 500 argot words, some of which are general Hebrew slang and others specific to this group. An analysis of excerpts from these interviews, in which the inmates use, define, and interpret some of these words, enables the researchers to study the contribution of the argot to the reproduction of this subculture and the dynamics of certain aspects of identity construction and the way they are shaped through oppositions. The encounter between the formally dominant Hebrew in Israeli prisons and Arabic, which is the mother tongue of most of the prison population, creates a unique language, the existence of which supports the endogenous model that presents the prison subculture that develops as a result of the extraordinary reality of prison life. Adapted from the source document.
Translated title of the contributionלשון האסירים בישראל: : מילים, ערכים וזהויות
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalIsrael Studies in Language and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

RAMBI Publications

  • RAMBI Publications
  • Hebrew language -- Jargon
  • Prisoners, Palestinian Arab -- Israel
  • Male prisoners -- Israel -- Language


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