Linguistics Colloquium: John Myhill

10/01/2017 - 14:00 - 15:30

John Myhill, Haifa University & Dua'a Abu-Elhij'a, Indiana University

Title: Hebrew Loanwords in the CMC usage of the Palestinian Israeli Variety of Arabic

Abstract: This research examines borrowings from Hebrew into Arabic as used by Nazarene and Iksali 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, the reasons for borrowing from Hebrew, and phonological adaptation. Three hypotheses are investigated: First, the most frequent borrowed items are nouns; second, the main reasons for borrowing are to introduce culturally or technologically new concepts, as well as new ways to refer to preexisting notions; finally, borrowed items are adapted to the Arabic phonological system. These hypotheses are shown to be generally 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. We 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, but show that borrowing is restricted to lexical borrowing, particularly of nouns, and provide explanations that refer to the political and cultural situation of Palestinian Israelis. Regarding phonological adaptation, this does partially explain how borrowed Hebrew words are represented orthographically, but not entirely, because the [v] sound is borrowed into the representation of spoken Arabic, and also because for a number of sounds (but not all of them), a symbol is used to represent an Arabic sound even though there is another available symbol which also represents an existing Arabic sound which is in fact closer to the original Hebrew sound--for example, <6>, corresponding to Arabic [tˤ], is used for <ט>, pronounced by Hebrew speakers as [t], even though Arabic also has [t]. Explanations referring to a number of factors are given for why the various Hebrew sounds are borrowed as they are, as no individual factor can account for all borrowing patterns.

 

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