Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Hong Kong English

Hong Kong English

Jane Setter
Cathy S. P. Wong
Brian H. S. Chan
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 192
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Hong Kong English
    Book Description:

    This volume provides an overview of all aspects of Hong Kong English in a style designed for undergraduates and general readers. As a former British colony, Hong Kong used English as the language of government, law and education in the early days of colonial rule. Since the Handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, it is no longer used as the primary language of government. However, the status of English has survived the decline of colonial rule, as English has become an international language which is indispensable for a service-oriented economy such as present-day Hong Kong. Its use is still widespread in legal contexts, and English is the medium of instruction in at least a quarter of secondary schools.Outwith the realm of education, English is important as a means of international communication in the fields of banking and finance, business, and in the tourism and hospitality industry. English is therefore integrated into Hong Kong life in various ways and this has resulted in a thriving and developing variety of English. This book describes English in Hong Kong as a linguistic phenomenon from the point of view of language structure, but also takes into account historical, socio-cultural and socio-political developments.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3597-9
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. 1 Geography, demography and cultural factors
    (pp. 1-11)

    There is no doubt that Hong Kong is seen as one of the most exciting cities in the world. The view across the harbour at night looking towards the neon lights, a silhouette of a junk against the setting sun, or the hubbub of lively business and commerce in a 24-hour city are quintessential images conjured up in the mind when one thinks of this exotic location. The self-portrait of Hong Kong as presented on the official government internet website¹ describes it as ‘a vibrant city, and a major gateway to China’. Indeed, the geographic location of Hong Kong has...

  5. 2 Phonetics and phonology
    (pp. 12-42)

    Hong Kong English is an emergent new variety and, as such, its status as either a legitimate variety or learner interlanguage is under dispute. Some writers prefer to discuss phonological aspects of Hong Kong English in terms of error when compared to varieties such as British or American English (see, for example, Stibbard 2004; Chan 2006; Chan and Li 2000). This chapter – and, indeed, this book – does not take this view, preferring to describe and evaluate Hong Kong English pronunciation on its own terms, and in terms of difference from other accents rather than deficiency. However, it should...

  6. 3 Morphosyntax
    (pp. 43-67)

    As is the case with phonology, many of the morphosyntactic features in Hong Kong English reflect the interaction between English and Cantonese, two languages very different in terms of their morphological and grammatical structures.

    Like other Chinese dialects, Cantonese is not morphologically rich. There are few inflectional and derivational markings in Cantonese (Matthews and Yip 1994: 31). When compared to English, Cantonese has no tense inflections on the verbs; nor are there any number or gender inflections on the nouns. As a result, the English morphological markings are realised in four different ways in Hong Kong English. One typical feature...

  7. 4 Discourse and lexis
    (pp. 68-93)

    Discourse features in Hong Kong English have not received much attention; for example, Bolton (2002a) includes chapters which deal with phonology (Hung 2000, reprinted in Bolton 2002a), grammar (Gisborne 2000, reprinted in Bolton 2002a) and lexis (Benson 2000, reprinted in Bolton 2002a), but there is no chapter on discourse. Nor is there much discussion in Bolton (2003), Kachru (2005) or Kachru and Nelson (2006), the latter two works looking at the broader context of Asian Englishes. One recent attempt to fill this gap is Wong (2007), which is an analysis of the forms and functions of question tags in the...

  8. 5 Code-switching
    (pp. 94-102)

    The previous chapter discusses borrowing from Cantonese to Hong Kong English, noting that loanwords may undergo phonological adaptation to English. In this connection, it is interesting to find the following excerpt in the data of Speaker 5.

    (1) Context: Speaker 5 was recalling her classmate who came from a wealthy family. The family was so rich that there was a cook in the house and family members took turns to order food for dinner.

    1 05: and then I think erm he said yesterday I order erm

    2 Int: ((laughs))

    3 05: barbecue er … um pork something like that...

  9. 6 Hong Kong English: a sociolinguistic history
    (pp. 103-116)

    The interest in Hong Kong English as a variety is a relatively recent phenomenon, and its status is very much under dispute (see section 6.4 below). Because of this, there has been little, if any, documentation of historical language change. Empirically, there have been few studies which describe the formal linguistic properties of Hong Kong English in great detail (in comparison with, say, Singapore English); this, coupled with the emergent status of the variety, means it is virtually impossible to compare two datasets collected at different times for varietal differences. In addition, work on Hong Kong English, other than that...

  10. 7 Annotated bibliography
    (pp. 117-129)

    This chapter starts by surveying general works on Hong Kong English and then goes on to consider specific books and key articles in each area.

    Both Platt (1982) and McArthur (2002) provide a comprehensive overview of all the features of Hong Kong English with reference to the larger context of varieties of Asian Englishes, while Kirkpatrick’s (2007) description is presented in terms of implications for international communication and pedagogy.

    Pennington (1998b) is an edited volume of nineteen chapters, in which authors discuss the linguistic situation in Hong Kong in the run-up to the Handover in 1997, not all of them...

  11. 8 Transcripts for the data from our speakers
    (pp. 130-174)

    Int the speech of the interviewer

    01/05/08/09/10 the speech of the interviewee

    HE the ‘happy event’ recording

    MT the ‘map task’ recording

    60 shown in the left-hand column: the time reached during

    a line of dialogue from the start of the file (in seconds)

    ((laughs)) non-linguistic sound

    … pause

    s- incomplete word

    The interviewer in these recordings is Alois Heuboeck. The first draft of the transcripts was completed by Iran M. Heuboeck.

    01 when I was a kid erm around the age of erm ten

    Int ten years

    01 eleven around and mmm I actually studied and aah in the...

  12. Index
    (pp. 175-184)