What's a stigmatized variant doing in the word list? Authenticity in reading styles and Hebrew pharyngeals

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23 Scopus citations


The pharyngeal segments in Hebrew, [[glottal stop, reversed]] and [h[stroke]], are historically conservative and considered prescriptively correct, but are also socially stigmatized as a feature associated with Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) descent. I present data from sociolinguistic interviews in two Israel field sites and demonstrate a robust pattern in both communities: speakers who produce pharyngeals in the interview use more [[glottal stop, reversed]] in reading a word list than in free-form conversation, but show no such effect for [h[stroke]]. The results are difficult to reconcile with a single axis of standardness or formality and highlight the need for a more multidimensional approach to interpreting reading styles. Taking into account both the community's language ideologies that link reading styles to their ethnic identity and the fact that [[glottal stop, reversed]] has been shown to be more useful as a stylistic resource for performing Mizrahi personae, I argue for an interpretation that considers word list reading as a site for performing a Mizrahi ethnic identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-58
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnicity
  • Hebrew
  • Pharyngeals
  • Read speech
  • Standard language
  • Stylistic variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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