Words and Stones: The Politics of Language and Identity in Israel / Edition 1

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Overview

Social and ethnic identity are nowhere more enmeshed with language than in Israel. Words and Stones explores the politics of identity in Israel through an analysis of the social life of language. By examining the social choices Israelis make when they speak, and the social meanings such choices produce, Daniel Lefkowitz reveals how Israeli identities are negotiated through language. Lefkowitz studies three major languages and their role in the social lives of Israelis: Hebrew, the dominant language, Arabic, and English. He reveals their complex interrelationship by showing how the language a speaker chooses to use is as important as the language they choose not to use - in the same way that a claim to an Israeli identity is simultaneously a claim against other, opposing identities. The result is a compelling analysis of how the identity of "Israeliness" is linguistically negotiated in the three-way struggle among Ashkenazi (Jewish), Mizrahi (Jewish), and Palestinian (Arab) Israelis. Lefkowitz's ethnography of language-use is both thoroughly anthropological and thoroughly linguistic, and provides a comprehensive view of the role language plays in Israeli society. His work will appeal to students and scholars of sociolinguistics, anthropology, and linguistic anthropology, as well as students and scholars of Israel and the Middle East.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Daniel Lefkowitz has gone some distance in filling this important lacuna in the literature of the Middle East. This is a much needed corrective to the myth of linguistic monolithic structures in the Middle East." —Journal of Palestine Studies

"This insightful combination of cultural anthropology and sociolinguistics uncovers valuable information about ethnicity and identity in contemporary Israel. ...often conveys subtleties and nuances of meaning commonly absent in more typical, dry ethnographic narration. Highly recommended."—Choice

"An accessible and erudite ethnographic investigation... This book is an invaluable contribution to an every growing body of literature on matters of identity formation. ... The author succeeds in his aim to provide insights into social transformation by means of this study and successfully highlights the important relationship between language and culture. Words and Stones is highly recommended to scholars of language, anthropology and, indeed, scholars of the culture and politics of the Middle East."—Linguist List

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Transcription conventions
1 Negotiations and identities 3
2 Negotiations of memory and space 29
3 Theoretical frameworks for linguistic negotiations of identity 73
4 Narrating the crosscultural encounter 102
5 The social organization of language learning in Israel 132
6 Tropes of identity in public culture 169
7 Phonology and the negotiation of Arab identity 213
8 Intonation and the negotiation of Sabra identity 236
9 Conclusion : negotiations, dialogues, power, and language 262
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