Palestinian Inmates’ Jargon in Israeli Jails: A Pragmatic Account
Publication Type
Original research

The purpose of this study is to pragmatically examine cryptic language Palestinian inmates employ on daily basis to communicate coded, secret messages among themselves and to mislead Israeli jailers. The pragmatic meaning of this special language reflects the harsh conditions of Palestinian prisoners in all aspects of their routine social, military and security life inside Israeli prisons. The data of the study was collected from interviews with five newly freed Palestinian prisoners who served long terms in the Israeli jails. For a better analysis, the data was classified into metaphoric and non-metaphoric based on their situational use in the prison environment. The study found that although these terms have drifted from their original semantic usages and acquired new pragmatic applications initiated by Palestinian prisoners' needs for socializing, maneuvering, and security concerns, they still exhibit strong connection between their literal and pragmatic meanings. Put differently, in some cases the pragmatic meaning of the terms inside the prison conceptually maps their literal meaning outside the prison context. The study also revealed that these terms convey different (indirect) speech acts of warning, threatening, command and request in the prison context. We recommend other researchers to focus on the cryptic language of Palestinian female prisoners who might have needs and concerns different from those of the males’.   

Arab Journal for the Humanities
Kuwait University
Publisher Country
Publication Type
Prtinted only