Vol 2 No 5 Fall/Winter 2006

KURI Journal Helps for Readers:

"Language and Cultural Maintenance
Among the Gypsies of Jordan"

Readers who are new to Dom studies will find here a brief guide to some of the English language literature that has been published. Material is drawn from scholarly journals, popular magazines, and newspapers. Periodically, summaries of non-English works and/or translations of non-English works will be made available through Helps for Readers. The descriptions are content oriented as opposed to critical reviews.

Al-Khatib, Mahmoud and Al-Ali, Mohammed. "Language and Cultural Maintenance Among the Gypsies of Jordan." In Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. Vol. 26, No. 3, 2005.
  Authors' conclusion:
"In conclusion, this study suggests that language and culture are closely tied with one another and as such it is necessary for language maintenance to entail cultural maintenance, and the reverse could also be true. For the most part one can safely say that even though the Gypsies of Jordan are forced by the larger speech community to maintain their linguistic and cultural norms, they find themselves necessitated by the wider Jordanian society to use such norms as an important symbol of their identity."

Below, Scott Phillips, currently researching and writing with regard to the Dom of Jordan, provides a brief review of this article.

Review by Scott Phillips:
The article written by Drs. Al-Khatib and Al-Ali provides the reader with a piece of scholarly work that explores the issues of language and cultural maintenance among the Jordanian Dom. The researchers conducted limited interviews and observations mainly in Irbid, a city in northern Jordan for their study. The article compares the research performed among the Dom to research undertaken by one fo the authors, Al-Khatib, which looked at language maintenance among the Armenian minority in Jordan (Al-Khatib 2001). While it is widely recognized that the literature on the Dom is extremely thin, it is notable that the authors reference only one newspaper article that mentions Dom of Jordan. Most surprising is the lack of acknowledgement of the 1999 research by Moawwad (Moawwad 1999). Moawwad uses much of the same basic methods and theoretical basis, but reaches a more pesimistic conclusion than the current article in question.

However, the addition of one more piece of research on Dom issues is extremely welcome. The exploration of issues of stigma on language maintenance is very interesting and deserves additional space and depth in the article. The article draws into the fore the great deal of supplementary work that must be done in the area of sociolinguistics in regards to stigma, stereotyping, identity and ethnic relations. It is hoped that the authors will continue with their research into these areas. Potentially, others will also be guided by their initial work in this area and might provide a more detailed exploration of the issues faced by Jordanian Dom.

References:
Al-Khatib, Mahmoud. "Language Shift among the Armenians of Jordan." International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 152, pp 153-178. 2001.
Moawwad, Kamel. "The Linguistic Situation of Gypsies and Turkmans as Ethnic Minorities Living in Jordan: A Sociolinguistic Perspective." Master's Thesis, Yarmouk University, January, 1999.

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