Attitudes to Arabic language policies in Israel
Evidence from a survey study
The paper reports the findings of a survey study which examined attitudes towards a range of language policies for the Arabic language in Israel. Arabic is an official language in Israel as a result of a Mandatory Order (1922) which dictates comprehensive Hebrew-Arabic bilingual conduct by state authorities. In practice, Arabic’s public position in Israel is marginal, and Hebrew is the dominant language in Israeli public spheres. Arabic speakers, a national indigenous minority, and Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, form the two largest language-minority groups in Israel. The study explored attitudes concerning (1) the use of Arabic in three public domains (government services, public television, and teaching of Arabic in Jewish schools), (2) a Hebrew-Arabic bilingual model, and (3) a multilingual model addressing language minorities in Israel in general. Respondents were 466 university and college students, Jews and Arabs, divided into five subgroups along linguistic, ethnic and religious lines. The main findings indicated (1) a clear hierarchy of language policy domains among all five subgroups, with ‘government services’ being the most favored domain; (2) a tendency among Jewish respondents to favor a multilingual policy over a Hebrew-Arabic bilingual one; and (3) a language minority element (non-native Hebrew speakers), overshadowed by the ethnic-religious (Jewish-Arab) element.
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