The Old City of Jerusalem, small and densely populated, is a complex microcosm of Israeli society. It is a multilingual community characterized by unequal power relations between the speakers of the two official languages of Israel - Arabs and Jews. The authors begin with a sociolinguistic sketch of the Old City in the present day. They then provide a historical background to their field study, discussing Jewish multilingualism from the period of the Second
Temple until modern times, the sociolinguistics of Jerusalem one hundred years ago, and the recent revival and spread of Hebrew. They go on to develop a model of the rules of language choice which arises
from their analysis of language use in street signs, and which they then apply to language use in the market place. In the final chapters they examine language learning and language spread in their social context. The authors demonstrate that, because of the close association between language use and social structure, the study of language use in a multilingual society is at the same time both a powerful and a delicate method of studying the dynamics of group interactions.
'Spolsky and Cooper weave a rich brocade ... this is a well written and engaging book. The historical chapters are richly written; the reports of modern studies are serviceably written without overreliance on jargon. The book is carefully produced ... the authors have skillfully woven together the numerous interesting themes they have chosen into a handsome volume that I highly recommend.'
Loraine K. Obler, City University of New York and Emerson College
'The authors' imaginative and wide-ranging probe demonstrates how acute a profile of a society the sociolinguist can supply.'
Lewis Glinert, Bulletin of the SOAS
`providing a wealth of valuable and, at times, fascinating information ... most engaging and interesting book'
Journal of Semitic Studies
`Spolsky and Cooper's volume is ... the first monograph to deal with this topic ... The authors' imaginative and wide-ranging probe demonstrates how acute a profile of a society the sociolinguist can supply.'
`This valuable sociolinguistic study of the "linguistic opulence" of contemporary Jerusalem, and of the historical background of languages used in Jerusalem throughout the ages, will be of interest not only to linguists but to scholars working in many other disciplines ... The book is written in a clear, concise, and jargon-free style ... a model of clarity and concision ... major work of thorough, subtle, and important scholarship ... Oxford University
Press is to be congratulated for bringing out such a fine book ... The Languages of Jerusalem is sure to win a wide readership.'