SOCIOLINGUISTICS IN ISRAEL: From Hebrew hegemony to Israeli plurilingualism

Joel Walters, Dafna Yitzhaki, Shulamith Kopeliovich, Zhanna Burstein-Feldman, Carmit Altman, Sharon Armon-Lotem, Natalia Meir

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Israeli sociolinguistics is characterized by a transition from Ancient Multilingualism to Hebrew hegemony at the beginning of statehood and to present day plurilingualism. Israel’s 2018 Nation State Law made Hebrew the country’s only official language, with Arabic accorded ‘special status’. This contrasts with the country’s rich linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity where 50 native languages (including several sign languages) are spoken by immigrants, and Hebrew is native to only 51% of Israel’s citizens. Research on bilingual language development, identity, family language policy and bilingual education has become central to Israeli sociolinguistics. Research on Modern Israeli Hebrew and Colloquial Arabic, covering identity, language policy, diglossia and language contact, is surveyed. Separate sections are dedicated to processes of Hebraization and gradual shift to Hebrew in the Israeli Russian community, and to the role of English. The chapter concludes with a statement connecting multilingualism with unprecedented demographic changes where collective identity is challenged daily, stimulated by major social cleavages.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Sociolinguistics Around the World
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000901955
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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