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Babel in Zion : Jews, nationalism, and…

Babel in Zion : Jews, nationalism, and language diversity in Palestine,…

by Liora R. Halperin

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Fascinating study of the political, cultural and social issues surrounding language policies in the Yishuv, the Jewish community that existed in Palestine before the founding of Israel. Halperin's well-reasoned arguments, backed up by lots of research, reveals that no matter how much various groups wanted Hebrew to be the only language used in offices, theaters, farms and elsewhere, the reality was much more complex, and the study of other languages (most notably English and Arabic) were even promoted to serve Jewish nationalist aims. It would've been interesting if the book had gone beyond 1948 and discussed how the myth of a solely-Hebrew-speaking Yishuv came to pass, but that could be the focus of a follow-up study. ( )
  bostonian71 | Jul 12, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300197489, Hardcover)

The promotion and vernacularization of Hebrew, traditionally a language of Jewish liturgy and study, was a central accomplishment of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the years following World War I. Viewing twentieth-century history through the lens of language, author Liora Halperin questions the accepted scholarly narrative of a Zionist move away from multilingualism, demonstrating how Jews in Palestine remained connected linguistically by both preference and necessity to a world outside the boundaries of the pro-Hebrew community even as it promoted Hebrew and achieved that language’s dominance. The story of language encounters in Jewish Palestine is a fascinating tale of shifting power relationships, both locally and globally. Halperin’s absorbing study explores how a young national community was compelled to modify the dictates of Hebrew exclusivity as it negotiated its relationships with its Jewish population, Palestinian Arabs, the British, and others outside the margins of the national project and ultimately came to terms with the limitations of its hegemony in an interconnected world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:00 -0400)

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