Variation in the Speech of Two Palestinian Immigrant Groups

Keywords: linguistic behavior, variant, speech community, identity


Objectives. This sociolinguistic study aims to take a close look at the differences and similarities in the linguistic behavior of two Palestinian groups and analyze these in light of social and political factors.

Methods. The study adopts the Labovian Paradigm, and face-to-face techniques are used to collect data.

Results. The first group immigrated to Jordan from Palestine as a result of being forced from their homes in 1948. They came seeking refuge in Jordan, and, because they came from Palestine, they were treated as such. When the Arab-Israeli war began nearly two decades later, a new wave of Palestinians migrated to Jordan in 1967. Yet, at this time, their Palestinian village belonged to Jordan, politically, because Jordan had annexed the West Bank in 1950. Thus, the political status of both sets of Palestinians at the beginning of their exodus played a major role in the subsequent development of their linguistic behavior in Jordan. It influenced the kind of variation that occurred in their speech. The first people to arrive were treated as Palestinian refugees, which minimized them from a social perspective. Thus, the study shows that the middle-aged and younger generations of this ethnic group abandoned their dialect, and 98.0% of them adopted the local variant. The individuals of the second set of migrants were treated as Jordanian citizens as they had simply migrated from one part of the country, namely, the West Bank, to another part of it, namely, the East Bank (Jordan). The study found a strong correlation between an individual’s identity and the political status granted by a country. Though the members of both groups are Palestinians, the study shows that all individuals behaved linguistically differently depending how they were perceived socially and politically in Jordan.

Conclusion. Palestinians emigrated in two large waves from their homeland to Jordan as the result of war. The first took place in 1948, and the second took place in 1967. The study shows that the linguistic behavior of both groups differs. The social and the political situations that each group found itself in determined, to a great extent, the linguistic behavior they adopted.


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El Salman, M. (2021). Variation in the Speech of Two Palestinian Immigrant Groups. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 30(2), 199-220.