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The Hong Kong Speech Community’s Cantonese and Other Languages


Robert S. Bauer
Published Online: 2015-04-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1002


The Hong Kong speech community distinguishes itself from others in China by predominantly speaking Cantonese, a South China regional variety which is mutually unintelligible with Putonghua (or Mandarin), China’s official, national language. While Hong Kong is officially (but ambiguously) bilingual in 中文 ‘Chinese’ and 英文 ‘English’, yet simply in terms of its numbers of speakers, social domains in which it is spoken, and deliberate choice by the broadcast media, Cantonese unquestionably serves as Hong Kong’s de facto official spoken language. Other Chinese varieties (or dialects) and non-Chinese languages are spoken in the community, although the numbers of their speakers are relatively small. For both pedagogical and political reasons, schools have been switching from Cantonese mother-tongue instruction to Putonghua. Other language-education issues being addressed by the authorities are demands by Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities to learn to read and write standard Chinese through a comprehensive curriculum for Chinese as a second language and an end to segregated schools.


香港言語社團和中國大陸其它言語社團的區別在於前者以說漢語南方方言粵方言為主, 和中國國家通用語普通話互不相通。香港官方語言政策比較含糊得定為 ‘中文’ 和 ‘英文’ 雙語, 然而, 從使用人數、使用的社會場合, 及廣播媒介語選用的情況看, 粵方言毋庸置疑是香港事實上的官方口語語言。其它漢語方言和其它語言在香港也有使用, 人口較少。由於教學和政治兩方面的原因, 目前香港的教學語言正從粵方言易位到普通話。官方處理的其它語言教育方面的問題包括香港少數族裔的學生希望通過綜合課程學習讀寫標準漢語, 以及結束種族隔離學校的要求。

Keywords: bilingual; Cantonese; Chinese dialects; English; ethnic minorities; Hong Kong; medium of instruction; mother-tongue; official language; Putonghua

關鍵字: 雙語; 廣東話; 漢語方言; 英語; 少數民族; 香港; 教育媒介; 母語; 官方語言; 普通話


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About the article

Robert S. Bauer

Robert S. Bauer received the Ph.D. degree in linguistics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1982. Over the past thirty-plus years he has taught linguistics at universities in Australia, China, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong, Taiwan in China. He has lived in Hong Kong since 1997, and for 11 and a half years he taught sociolinguistics and contrastive phonologies of Cantonese, Putonghua, and English, and also conducted research on the Hong Kong Cantonese language in the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His research interests have included the Cantonese script, Cantonese phonetics, English loanwords in Cantonese, the history of Cantonese and other Yue dialects, the Thai language, and contact relationships among Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and minority languages of China and Southeast Asia.He is co-author of Modern Cantonese Phonology (with Paul K. Benedict; Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1997), and The Representation of Cantonese with Chinese Characters (with Cheung Kwan-hin; Berkeley: Journal of Chinese Linguistics, 2002). He currently holds the post of Honorary Professor in the Department of Linguistics, University of Hong Kong where he teaches M.A. subjects in Cantonese linguistics. Since 2003 he has been compiling the ABC Cantonese-English Dictionary for which the manuscript will soon be completed for publication.

包睿舜 1982 年從加州大學伯克利分校獲得語言學博士學位。在過去的三十年中他在澳大利亞、中國、日本, 泰國, 以及香港和臺灣的大學教授語言學。他自 1997 在香港居住, 教授社會語言學和粵方言、普通話和英語的音系對比十一年有餘, 並在香港理工大學漢語與雙語研究系研究香港粵方言。他的研究興趣包括粵方言文字, 粵方言語音, 粵方言中的英語借詞, 粵方言和其他粵方言的歷史, 漢語、泰語、越南語的語言接觸關係, 以及中國和東南亞的少數民族語言。他參與撰寫著作《摩登廣州話語音學》(與保羅 K· 本尼迪克合著;柏林:德古意特穆彤出版社, 1997), 《以漢字寫粵語》(與張群顯合著;伯克利:中國語言學報, 2002)。他目前在香港大學語言學系擔任名譽教授, 教授粵方言語言學碩士課程。自 2003 以來, 他一直從事編纂 ABC 粵語英語詞典, 該詞典手稿即將完成出版。

Published Online: 2015-04-14

Published in Print: 2015-04-01

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 27–55, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1002.

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