Hebrew-language narratives of Yiddish-speaking ultra-orthodox girls in Israel

Michal Tannenbaum*, Netta Abugov, Dorit Ravid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper reports on a study conducted with children belonging to a rarely studied minority group, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, an extremely religious group that endorses patterns of voluntary segregation. The research population also demonstrates linguistic segregation, as they use only Yiddish for daily communication with Hebrew, the main official language of Israel, serving primarily for study and ritual purposes. The sample consisted of 56 girls, divided between 4th graders and 7th graders, who were asked to write a story in Hebrew about a good thing that had happened to them. Two lines of analysis were adopted: (1) Quality of referential information, defined in terms of three types of 'Information- Units': events, descriptions and interpretations. Analysis revealed that informative density of narratives increased significantly with age, with a higher proportion of interpretive elements in 7th than in 4th grade - in marked contrast to baseline data of similar analyses of Hebrew monolingual schoolchildren in the same agegroups. (2) Analysis from a 'social capital perspective', which revealed high frequency of elements expressing affect, bonding and dogmatism in relation to the family, the community and the larger cultural-religious context. Results are discussed in view of the role of Hebrew in the lives of the participants, its ideological context and the ways language development and usage among ethnolinguistic minorities may reveal deeper layers of thought and emotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-490
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2006


  • Bonding
  • Dogmatism
  • Narrative analysis
  • Social capital
  • Ultra-Orthodox


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