Languages in contact: Preliminary clues of an emergence of an Israeli Arabic variety


  • Nurit Dekel Senior Researcher in Linguistics Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Hezi Brosh Professor of Arabic Languages and Cultures Department United States Naval Academy Annapolis



This paper describes from a linguistic point of view the impact of the Hebrew spoken in Israel on the Arabic spoken natively by Israeli Arabs.

Two main conditions enable mutual influences between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel:

-         The existence of two large groups of people speaking both languages within a single geographical area: Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. The former are a local, dominant group; the latter are a minority group.

-         The minority group is sufficiently large that changes originating in language contact become apparent in the minority language.

Both Hebrew and Arabic are official languages in the state of Israel. Israeli Arabs, who are citizens of Israel and speakers of Arabic, and Israeli Jews, who are speakers of Hebrew, has daily contact in many fields of life. Many Arabs work for Hebrew-speaking employers, study in Israeli universities and colleges, or provide services to the Hebrew-speaking population. As a result, a great deal of mutual linguistic influence is observed in each language. Our data show that spoken Hebrew elements are very widespread in all linguistic fields of the Arabic spoken by Israeli Arabs, so widespread that the emergence can be identified of a new Israeli Arabic variety