The Sociolinguistic and Pragmatic Factors that Influence Arabs in Israel to Speak Hebrew


In 1948, after the Jews became the sovereign majority in the state, they wanted the dominant if not the exclusive identity of this state to be Jewish, and that Hebrew would be the predominant language. Even though Arabic would be considered as an official language of the State of Israel, it has not acquired this status in the final count. The Jewish majority does not speak Arabic and does not know its culture (Shohamy & Donitsa-Schmidt, 1998; Kraemer, 1990). In effect, Hebrew is the language of the state, and as Smooha claims, the dominant language in Israel is Hebrew (Smooha, 1996: 282). The declared policy of the state is to strengthen the Hebrew language, and this conception is not exclusively for the Jews, both the veterans and the newcomers, but also applies to the Arab citizens of the state.The Arab public is not detached from the linguistic environment in the country. Contact with Hebrew speakers, mass media communication, especially the press, radio and television, are an inseparable part of the daily cultural and linguistic culture among the Arabs (Jammal, 2006). Hebrew has become, in the course of time, an integral part of the linguistic repertoire of the Arabs in Israel.The aim of this article is to determine the pragmatic and sociolinguistic facts that influence Arabs to speak Hebrew and to master it well. We shall deal with the degree of influence of Jewish culture and values on the Arabs in the educational system and outside it which has caused Arab youth to live in a divided world between Arab culture and Jewish culture. We shall relate to the creation of a mixed language that is detrimental to the use of Arabic as a mother tongue and tot he reactions against this phenomenon.

Keywords: Arabs, Hebrew, Israel, Pragmatic Factors, The Sociolinguistic

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