On the Mizraḥi Sociolect in Israel: A Sociolexical Consideration of the Hebrew of Israelis of North African Origin

in Journal of Jewish Languages
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



This article addresses lexical features of the speech of native-born Hebrew-speaking Israelis from the geographic and socioeconomic periphery (i.e., moshavim, cities, and development towns in the north and south of Israel). Study of their language shows that their Hebrew incorporates a fair number of Judeo-Arabic words belonging to meaningful categories, such as foods, customs, beliefs, holidays, and nicknames, among others. These words are distinctively different from the Arabic words interpolated in Modern Israeli Hebrew, which derive from the local Arabic dialect. The findings demonstrate the existence of a Hebrew sociolect grounded in Judeo-Arabic and typical of a specific sociogeographic sector.

On the Mizraḥi Sociolect in Israel: A Sociolexical Consideration of the Hebrew of Israelis of North African Origin

in Journal of Jewish Languages



AdafShimon One Mile and Two Days before Sunset 2004 Jerusalem Keter (in Hebrew)

AdafShimon Sunburnt Faces 2008 Tel Aviv Am Oved (in Hebrew)

AdafShimon Aviva-no 2009 Or Yehuda Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir (in Hebrew)

AdafShimon Nuntia 2010 Or Yehuda Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir (in Hebrew)

AdafShimon Mox-Nox 2011 Or Yehuda Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir (in Hebrew)

AmaraMuhammad A. Sociolinguistic Aspects of Variation and Change: A Study of the Language Spoken in an Arab Village in Israel 1991 Bar-Ilan University Doctoral dissertation

BachiR. “Teḥiyat ha-lashon ha-ʿivrit be-ʾaspaqlariyah statistit” Lešonenu 1956 20 65 82

BalgurRaphael “A Basic Word List from Newspapers for the Culturally Disadvantaged” Megamot 1974 20 3 225 253 (in Hebrew)

Ban-ShaharRina The Language of Israeli Drama 1996 Tel-Aviv Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew) [sic]

Ban-ShaharRina OryanDan “ʿAl leshon demuyot mizraḥiyot ba-maḥazot u-ve-maʿarkhonim ʿivriyyim” The Israeli Theatre: Democratization in the Israeli Society 2004 Tel-Aviv Open University 91 104 [sic]

Bar-AsherMoshe Studies in Modern Hebrew 2012 Jerusalem The Academy of the Hebrew Language (in Hebrew)

Ben-AmotzDahnBen-YehudaNetiva The World Dictionary of Hebrew Slang 1972 Jerusalem Lewin-Epstein (in Hebrew)

BendavidAbba Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew 1971–1987 Tel Aviv Dvir (in Hebrew)

Ben-ḤayyimZe’ev “Lashon ʿatiqa bi-mtsiʾut ḥadashah: Siḥot ʿal beʿayot ba-lashon ha-ʿivrit ha-ḥayyah” Leshonenu Laʿam 1953 4 3 85

Ben-RefaelEliezer Language Identity and Social Division: The Case of Israel 1994 Oxford Clarendon

Ben-RefaelEliezer “Multiculturalism and Multilingualism in Israel” Teʿuda 2002 18 67 84 (in Hebrew)

Ben-RefaelEliezerBen-ChaimLior Jewish Identities in an Era of Multiple Modernities 2007 Raanana Open University (in Hebrew)

BentolilaYaakov The Sociophonology of Hebrew as Spoken in a Rural Settlement of Moroccan Jews in the Negev 1984 Hebrew University (in Hebrew) Doctoral dissertation

BentolilaYaakov “Ha-fonemot ha-loʿiyyot ke-mishtanim sotsiyolingwistiyyim” Eshel Beer-Sheva 1986 3 353 371

BerdugoSami That Is to Say 2010 Bnei Berak Hakibbutz Hameuchad (in Hebrew)

BermanRuth “ʿAl ha-beʿayatiyut be-ḥeqer ha-ʿivrit ha-ḥadashah u-ve-horaʾatah.” P’rakim 1987 7 84 96

BlancHaim “Qeṭaʿ shel dibbur ʿivri yisraʾeli.” Leshonenu 1957 21 33 39

BlancHaim RosenH. B. “Israeli Hebrew Texts” Studies in Egyptology and Linguistics in Honour of H. J. Polotsky 1964 Jerusalem Israel Exploration Society 123 152

BlancHaim WeinreichUriel “Some Yiddish Influences in Israeli Hebrew” The Field of Yiddish Second Collection 1965 The Hague Mouton 190 201

CaisYudith “Language Problems of Disadvantaged Children” Studies in Education 1974 4 109 128 (in Hebrew)

CaplanPat CaplanPat “Approaches to the Study of Food, Health and Identity” Food Health and Identity 1997 London Routledge 1 31

Colin Le dictionnaire Colin d’arabe dialectal marocain sous la direction de Zakia Iraqui Sinaceur 1994–1996 Rabat Editions al Manahil

DavisLawrence “Is the Language of Disadvantaged Children Really Disadvantaged?” Studies in Education 1977 14 133 138 (in Hebrew)

EdwardsJohn Language and Identity: An Introduction 2009 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

EfratiNathan The Evolution of Spoken Hebrew in Pre-state Israel 1881–1922 2004 Jerusalem The Academy of the Hebrew Language (in Hebrew)

EinhornY. “The Origin and Nature of the ‘Meimouna.’ ” Tarbiẓ 1971–1972 41 211 218 (in Hebrew)

EldarIlan Language Planning in Israel 2010 Jerusalem The Academy of the Hebrew Language (in Hebrew)

Even-ZoharItamar “The Nature and Functionalization of the Language of Literature under Diglossia” Hasifrut 1970 2 2 286 302 (in Hebrew)

FischlerBen-Zion “Le-toledot hanḥalat ha-lashon” Lashon ve-ʿivrit 1990 6 35 39 (in Hebrew)

FriedmanMenachem The Ḥaredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Society: Sources Trends and Processes 1991 Jerusalem Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (in Hebrew)

GanonIlana ToegRuth “Koḥa shel ḥulshah: Terumatan shel ha-nashim le-gibbush ha-zehut shel yotsʾe maroqo ve-li-tmurot bi-dmutah shel ha-ḥevrah be-yisraʾel.” The Sephardic Jews in Eretz Israel in Changing Times 2000 Jerusalem Dinur Center 117 138 (in Hebrew)

HaramatiShelomo “Le-toledot hanḥalat ha-lashon be-yisraʾel.” Lashon ve-ʿIvrit 1991 8 55 64

HarshavBenjamin Language in Times of Revolution: The Modern Jewish Revolution and the Renaissance of the Hebrew Language 2008 Jerusalem Carmel (in Hebrew)

HeldMichal Let Me Tell You a Story = Ven te kontare: The Personal Narratives of Judeo-Spanish Speaking Storytelling Women: An Interdisciplinary Study 2009 Jerusalem Ben-Zvi Institute (in Hebrew)

HenshkeYehudit “Twentieth Century Hebrew Journalism in Tunisian Judeo-Arabic Translation” Massorot 2006 13–14 89 104 (in Hebrew)

HenshkeYehudit “The Contribution of the Hebrew Component in Judeo-Languages to the Revival of Spoken Hebrew” Revue des Études Juives 2013a 172 217 235

HenshkeYehudit “The Development of Registers in Modern Hebrew: Sara Shilo’s No Gnomes Will Appear: A Linguistic Analysis” Hebrew Studies 2013b 54 (in press)

HenshkeYehudit “The Judeo-Arabic Origins of Modern Israeli Idioms and Proverbs” Studies in the History and Culture of North African Jewry 2 Forthcoming a New Haven Yale University Press

HenshkeYehudit “Characterizing the Language of a Bilingual Speaker of North African Descent: Idiolect or Sociolect?” Investigating Colloquial Israeli Hebrew Forthcoming b Tel Aviv University (in Hebrew)

HofmanJohn E.FishermanHaya “Language Shift and Language Maintenance in Israel” Advances in the Sociology of Language 1972 vol. 2 The Hague Mouton 342 364

HorvitsMiri “Sociolinguistic Aspects of Combined Languages in Narrative Discourse about Oriental Jews: The ‘Ivrarvit Case.’ ” ʿAm va-sefer 1998 10 56 73 (in Hebrew)

Izre’elShlomo “The Emergence of Spoken Israeli Hebrew” Teʿuda 2002 18 217 238 (in Hebrew)

KatrielTamar Talking Straight: Dugri Speech in Israeli Sabra Culture 1986 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

KodeshShelomo Mavo le-maḥshevet hanḥalat ha-lashon 2000 Jerusalem Misrad Hahinukh

KutscherEduard Yechezkel A History of the Hebrew Language 1982 Jerusalem Magnes

LabovWilliam The Social Stratification of English in New York City 1966 Washington, DC Center for Applied Linguistics

LabovWilliam Sociolinguistic Patterns 1972 Oxford Blackwell

LefkowitzDaniel Words and Stones: The Politics of Language and Language and Identity in Israel 2004 Oxford Oxford University Press

MamanAharon Ben-AmiIssachar “La Fête de la Mimouna: étude étymologique du terme et coutumes” Recherches sur la Culture des Juifs d’Afrique du Nord 1991 Jerusalem Communaute Israelite Nord-Africaine 85 95 (in Hebrew)

MatrasYaron Language Contact 2009 New York Cambridge University Press

MatrasYaronSchiffLeora “Spoken Israeli Hebrew Revisited: Structures and Variation” Studia Semitica: The Journal of Semitic Studies Jubilee Volume 2005 Journal of Semitic Studies Supplement 16 Oxford Oxford University Press 145 191

MoragShelomo “Some Notes on the Vowel System of Spoken Hebrew” Lešonenu 1972–1973 37 205 214 (in Hebrew)

MoragShelomo MoragShelomo “Uniformity and Diversity in a Language: Dialects and Forms of Speech in Modern Hebrew” Studies on Contemporary Hebrew: A Selection of Readings 1987 Jerusalem Academon 609 614 (First published in Actes du Xe Congrès International des Linguistes [Bucharest 1969] 1: 639–644.)

MoragShelomo Bar-AsherMosheBreuerYochananMamanAharon “Modern Hebrew: Some Sociolinguistic Aspects” Cathedra 1990 56 Jerusalem Magnes 70 92 330 352 (in Hebrew) Reprinted in Studies in Hebrew Aramaic and Jewish Languages

Morag-TalmonPenina ToegRuth “Meqomah shel ha-tsiyonut be-todaʿatam shel bne ʿadat ha-sefaradim bi-rushalayim” The Sephardic Jews in Eretz Israel in Changing Times 2000 Jerusalem Dinur Center 169 179 (in Hebrew)

MuchnikMalka “Tel Aviv ‘Southerner’ Dialect in The Moon Goes Green in the Wadi. Helkat Lashon 2004 35 5 19 (in Hebrew)

Myers-ScottonCarol Duelling Languages: Grammatical Structure in Codeswitching 1993a Oxford Clarendon

Myers-ScottonCarol Social Motivation for Codeswitching: Evidence from Africa 1993b Oxford Clarendon

Myers-ScottonCarol Contact Linguistics: Bilingual Encounters and Grammatical Outcomes 2002 Oxford Oxford University Press

NirRefael “ ‘Maḥsom ha-lashon’ be-ḥinnukho shel ha-talmid ha-ṭaʿun tippuaḥ.” P’rakim 1978 1 81 89

OrOrit “Distinctive Syntactic Features in the Language of Boys from South and North Tel-Aviv” 1998 Bar-Ilan University (in Hebrew) M.A. thesis

PelegElhanan “Pishut ha-du tenuʿah [ei] ba-ʿivrit ha-yisraʾelit: Hishtaqfutam shel tahalikhim ḥevratiyyim be-tahalikh shinuy fonologi” Hebrew: A Living Language 1992 1 141 152 (in Hebrew)

RabinHayyim ʿIqare toledot ha-lashon ha-ʿivrit 1972 Jerusalem Jewish Agency

RavidDorit Diskin Language Change in Child and Adult Hebrew: A Psycholinguistic Perspective 1995 Oxford Oxford University Press

RomaineSuzanne Bilingualism 1989 Oxford Blackwell

RosenthalRuvik Dictionary of Israeli Slang 2005 Jerusalem Keter (in Hebrew)

RosenthalRuvik Dictionary of Hebrew Idioms and Phrases 2009 Jerusalem Keter (in Hebrew)

RubinsteinSarah Hanḥalat ha-lashon ha-ʿivrit be-yisra⁠ʾel: Doḥ meḥqar 2000 Jerusalem Misrad Haḥinukh

SchmelzUriel O.BachiRoberto “Hebrew as the Everyday Language of the Jews in Israel: A Statistical Appraisal” Lešonenu 1972–1973 37 50 68 187 210 (in Hebrew)

SchwarzwaldOra Grammar and Reality in the Hebrew Verb 1981 Ramat Gan Bar-Ilan University (in Hebrew)

SchwarzwaldOra “Remnants of Judeo-Spanish in Modern Hebrew” Peʿamim 1993 56 33 49 (in Hebrew)

SchwarzwaldOra “The Components of the Modern Hebrew Lexicon: The Influence of Hebrew Classical Sources, Jewish Languages and Other Foreign Languages on Modern Hebrew” Hebrew Linguistics 1995 39 79 90 (in Hebrew)

ShiloSara No Gnomes Will Appear 2005 Tel Aviv Keset (in Hebrew)

ShohamyElanaSpolskyBernard “From Monolingual to Multilingual? Educational Language Policy in Israel” Teʿuda 2002 18 115 128 (in Hebrew)

ShokeidMosheDeshenShlomo The Generation of Transition: Continuity and Change among North African Immigrants in Israel 1977 Jerusalem Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi (in Hebrew)

SpolskyBernardShohamyElana The Languages of Israel: Policy Ideology and Practice 1999 Clevedon Multilingual Matters

StahlAbraham The Structure of the Written Language of Children from Middle Eastern and European Cultures and Its Significance for the Advancement of Culturally Deprived Children in Israel 1971 Hebrew University (in Hebrew) Doctoral dissertation

StahlAbraham Lashon ve-ḥashivah shel talmidim ṭeʿune ̣ṭippuaḥ be-yisra⁠ʾel 1973 Jerusalem Misrad Haḥinukh 2 vols.

StahlAbraham Language and Thought of Culturally Deprived Children in Israel 1977 Tel Aviv Otsar Hamoreh (in Hebrew)

ThomasonSarah G.KaufmanTerrence Language Contact Creolization and Genetic Linguistics 1988 Berkeley University of California Press

TsurYaron GalYaron “Outside of Europe: The Origin of Moroccan Zionism and its Evolution” World Regional Zionism: Geo-cultural Dimensions 2010 vol. 2 Jerusalem Shazar 203 271 (in Hebrew)

VidislavskyDvora “Syntactic and Lexical Aspects in the Spoken Language of High School Students of European and Oriental Origin” 1980 Bar-Ilan University (in Hebrew) M.A. thesis

WaltersJoel Bilingualism: The Sociopragmatic-Psycholinguistic Interface 2005 Mahwah, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

WeinbergEliakim Ḥinnukh mevugarim be-dor ha-medinah 1992 Jerusalem Misrad Haḥinukh (in Hebrew)

WeinreichUriel Languages in Contact: Findings and Problems 1967 5th edition The Hague Mouton

ZoharZvi Bar-OnMordecaiZameretZvi “Zionism and the State of Israel as Viewed by Leading Sephardic-Oriental Rabbis (1948–1967)” On Both Sides of the Bridge: Religion and State in the Early Years of Israel 2002 Jerusalem Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi Press 320 349 (in Hebrew)


Schwarzwald (1993) notes that מספן is found in all Spanish-Jewish communities. Evidently it found its way from there to the North African Jewish kitchen.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 31 31 7
Full Text Views 22 22 15
PDF Downloads 3 3 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0