Skip to main content Accessibility help

The voice of others: Identity, alterity and gender normativity among gay men in Israel

  • Erez Levon (a1)


This article presents an analysis of a slang variety, called oxtšit, as it is described and used by a cohort of gay men in Israel. Unlike many previous analyses of gay slang, I argue that the men described do not use the variety to help construct and affirm an alternative gay identity, but rather that they use it as a form of in-group mockery through which normative and nonnormative articulations of Israeli gay male sexuality are delineated. It is suggested that this discussion has implications for sociolinguistic understandings of “groupness” more broadly, and particularly the relationship between macro-level social categories (like “gay”) and individual lived experience. (Gay slang, Israel, vari-directional voicing, identity/alterity)*



Hide All
Abu-Lughod, Lila (1990). The romance of resistance: Tracing transformations of power through Bedouin women. American Ethnologist 17:4155.
Agha, Asif (2003). The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23:231–73.
Almog, Oz (2000). The sabra: The creation of the new Jew. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Baker, Paul (2002). Polari: The lost language of gay men. London: Routledge.
Bakhtin, Mikhail (1984). Problems in Dostoevsky's poetics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Biale, David (1997). Eros and the Jews: From biblical Israel to contemporary America. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Boellstorff, Tom (2004). Gay language and Indonesia: Registering belonging. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 14:248–68.
Bucholtz, Mary, & Hall, Kira (2005). Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies 7:585614.
Cameron, Deborah & Kulick, Don (2003). Language and sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chun, Elaine (2004). Ideologies of legitimate mockery: Margaret Cho's revoicings of Mock Asian. Pragmatics 14:263–89.
Chun, Elaine (2009). Speaking like Asian immigrants: Intersections of accommodation and mocking at a US high school. Pragmatics 19:1738.
Goffman, Erving (1974). Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Goffman, Erving (1981). Forms of talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gross, Aeyal (2002). Sexuality, masculinity, military and citizenship: Gay and lesbian service in the IDF from a comparative perspective. In Barak-Erez, Dafna (ed.), Military, society and the law [in Hebrew], 183–95. Tel Aviv: Ramot.
Hall, Kira, & O'Donovan, Veronica (1996). Shifting gender positions among Hindi-speaking hijras. In Bergvall, Victoria, Bing, Janet, & Freed, Alice (eds.), Rethinking language and gender research: Theory and practice, 228–66. London: Longman.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1976). Anti-languages. American Anthropologist 78:570–84.
Hastings, Adi, & Manning, Paul (2004). Introduction: Acts of alterity. Language and Communication 24:291311.
Hayes, Joseph (1981). Gayspeak. In Chesebro, James (ed.), Gayspeak: Gay male and lesbian communication, 4557. New York: Pilgrim.
Hill, Jane (1998). Language, race and white public space. American Anthropologist 100:680–89.
Hill, Jane (2008). The everyday language of white racism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Irvine, Judith (2001). “Style” as distinctiveness: The culture and ideology of linguistic differentiation. In Eckert, Penelope & Rickford, John (eds.), Style and sociolinguistic variation, 2143. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Irvine, Judith, & Gal, Susan (2000). Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Kroskrity, Paul (ed.), Regimes of language, 3584. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.
Jaworski, Adam, & Coupland, Justine (2005). Othering in gossip: “You go out you have a laugh and you can pull yeah okay but like…” Language in Society 34:667–94.
Johnstone, Barbara (1999). Uses of Southern-sounding speech by contemporary Texas women. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3:505–22.
Johnstone, Barbara (2009). Pittsburghese shirts: Commodification and the enregisterment of an urban dialect. American Speech 84:157–75.
Johnstone, Barbara; Andrus, Jennifer; & Danielson, Andrew (2006). Mobility, indexicality and the enregisterment of “Pittsburghese.” Journal of English Linguistics 34:77104.
Katriel, Tamar (1986). Talking straight: Dugri speech in Israeli sabra culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Keane, Webb (2000). Voice. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9:271–73.
Kimmerling, Baruch (2001). The invention and decline of Israeliness: State, society and the military. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kuzar, Ron (2001). Hebrew and Zionism: A discourse analytic cultural study. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Leap, William (1996). Word's out: Gay men's English. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Levon, Erez (2009). Dimensions of style: Context, politics and motivation in gay Israeli speech. Journal of Sociolinguistics 13:2958.
Levon, Erez (2010). Language and the politics of sexuality: Lesbians and gays in Israel. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mahmood, Saba (2005). Politics of piety: The Islamic revival and the feminist subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Manalansan, Martin (1995). Speaking of AIDS: Language and the Filipino “gay” experience in America. In Rafael, Vincente (ed.), Discrepant histories: Translocal essays on Filipino cultures, 193220. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
Penelope, Julia, & Wolfe, Susan (1979). Sexist slang and the gay community: Are you one, too? Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Rampton, Ben (1995). Crossing: Language and ethnicity among adolescents. London: Longman.
Rampton, Ben (1998). Language crossing and the redefinition of reality. In Auer, Peter (ed.), Code-switching in conversation, 290317. London: Routledge.
Rampton, Ben (2006). Language in late modernity: Interaction in an urban school Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rampton, Ben (2008). Interaction ritual and not just artful performance in crossing and stylization. Language in Society 38:149–76.
Sa'ar, Amalia (2007). Masculine talk: On the subconscious use of masculine linguistic forms among Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking women in Israel. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32:406–29.
Shafir, Gershon, & Peled, Yoav (2002). Being Israeli: The dynamics of multiple citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shankar, Shalini (2008). Speaking like a model minority: “FOB” styles, gender and racial meanings among Desi teens in Silicon Valley. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 18:268–89.
Spolsky, Bernard, & Shohamy, Elana (1999). The languages of Israel: Policy, ideology and practice. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Squires, Lauren (2010). Enregistering internet language. Language in Society 39:457–92.
Tobin, Yishai (2001). Gender switch in Modern Hebrew. In Hellinger, Marlis & Bussman, Hadumod (eds.), Gender across languages, vol. 1, 177–98. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Vaid, Urvashi (1995). Virtual equality: The mainstreaming of gay and lesbian liberation. New York: Anchor Doubleday.
Walzer, Lee (2000). Between Sodom and Eden: A gay journey through today's changing Israel. New York: Columbia University Press.
Warner, Michael (2000). The trouble with normal: Sex, politics and the ethics of queer life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wong, Andrew, & Zhang, Qing (2000). The linguistic construction of the tongzhi community. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 10:248–78.
Yosef, Raz (2005). The national closet: Gay Israel in Yossi and Jagger. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 11:283300.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The voice of others: Identity, alterity and gender normativity among gay men in Israel

  • Erez Levon (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.