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Hebrew Loanwords in the Palestinian Israeli Variety of Arabic (Facebook Data)

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This research examines borrowings from Hebrew into Arabic as used by Nazarene and Iksali1 Palestinian Israelis in the context of Arabic computer-mediated communication (CMC), specifically the written colloquial Palestinian Israeli dialect of Arabic in Facebook. The study focuses on the frequency of the borrowed items, phonological adaptation, and the reasons for borrowing from Hebrew. Three hypotheses are investigated: First, the most frequent borrowed items are nouns. Second, borrowed items are adapted to the Arabic phonological system. Finally, the main reasons for borrowing are to introduce culturally or technologically new concepts, as well as new ways to refer to preexisting notions. Most of these hypotheses are shown to be correct. However, the frequency of borrowing in the corpus does not reflect the intensity of the language contact between Hebrew and the Palestinian Israeli dialect. I describe the language contact situation between Hebrew and Arabic and demonstrate how intense it is, classifying it as falling between the third and fourth level of intensity according to Thomason and Kaufman’s (1988) borrowing scale. However, borrowing is restricted to lexical borrowing, particularly of nouns. I provide explanations that refer to the political and cultural situation (including identity issues) of Palestinian Israelis.

Affiliations: 1: Indiana University,


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