Yasmine Abou Taha We Have Been Here for 67 Years: A Study of Palestinians' Perceptions of their National Identity and Attitudes towards their Language in Lebanon
Yasmine Abou Taha: "We Have Been Here for 67 Years: A Study of Palestinians' Perceptions of their National Identity and Attitudes towards their Language in Lebanon"
Palestinians have been in the diaspora for nearly seven decades; accordingly, their reevaluation of their belonging to multiple places and their struggle with their national identity have highlighted the plurality of their identity, thus increasing the complexity of their self-concept. Although this identity has been extensively studied, the literature has witnessed a scarcity of studies on the Palestinian national identity in relation to language, and on Palestinians who live outside refugee camps in Lebanon. The present study addressed these two issues by examining how Palestinians who are in daily contact with the Lebanese host society identify themselves, their attitudes towards their dialect, Palestinian Colloquial Arabic (PCA), and their efforts at preserving their national identity. Participants were 37 Palestinians who were recruited through snowball sampling. Data were collected through a background questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. Results showed that the majority of participants identified themselves as Palestinian. They also had positive attitudes towards their dialect; however, they strongly believed that there are other markers of their identity that are just as prominent as their dialect. These markers include identifying as Palestinian, having a sense of belonging to Palestine, and maintaining the Palestinian cultural heritage. That is why, participants believed that it is not their duty to speak PCA but rather to familiarize themselves with the Palestinian cause, make others aware of it, and transfer their Palestinian roots to future generations. These results challenge essentialist views on the link between language and identity.
Yasmine Abou Taha has recently completed her Master of Arts in English Language at AUB. Her research interests include sociolinguistics; language in relation to gender, social and national identity; diaspora studies; language maintenance and shift; and language attitudes and ideologies. She aims to advance her research knowledge and practice through pursuing a PhD.