Loanwords in written Arabic online

Over the last 70 years, the history of the Palestinian Arabic dialect has presented a rare natural experiment because it had extensive contact with Hebrew. Presently, a distance of a few kilometers between two locations in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, may reveal very different language patterns among speakers of Palestinian Arabic

Word borrowing resulting from contact between languages is not a new phenomenon; almost all languages have contact with another at different degrees. Contact between Hebrew and Palestinian Arabic inside the state of Israel affects both spoken and written Arabic, and over time Hebrew’s effect has been getting stronger. Hebrew, which is the official and dominant language in Israel, is used mainly by Arabic speakers in work contexts. Contact with Hebrew speakers in daily work and governmental offices results in the penetration of Hebrew into spoken Arabic language.

Furthermore, the advent of the internet has affected written communication since the end of the twentieth century. As expected, online communication has affected written Arabic. Examples from different websites show that borrowed words from Hebrew into Arabic may undergo word-level and sound-level changes. New technologies have changed the nature of linguistic resources. At present, it is difficult for linguists to locate “loanwords” from Hebrew in written Arabic in Israel, since there are no online archived resources.

Through my residency in the Sherman Centre I am working on creating a corpus of loanwords, through the examination of different websites which are operated from the north and central parts of Israel as well as the West Bank.

This corpus will help me to work with RStudio to analyse the collected encoded data structures which will help for future digital scholarship work on this emerging field of Hebrew-Arabic language contact.

The materials in the spreadsheet will help me to create a digital linguistic archive which will be preserved for a long time and will become a resource for researchers worldwide. It will support learning and discovery at different scales of language studies since it will be an open linguistic resource.

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