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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 31, Issue 1


Tracking language attitudes in postcolonial Hong Kong: An interplay of localization, mainlandization, and internationalization

Mee Ling Lai
Published Online: 2012-10-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2012.004


Four years after the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned from Britain to China, a survey was conducted in 2001 to examine the attitudes of students toward Cantonese (the vernacular language), English (the colonizer’s and international language), and Putonghua (the new ruler’s language) in the early postcolonial era of Hong Kong. Eight years after, as Hong Kong moved into the second decade after the political handover, which has been characterized by an intense interplay of localization, mainlandization, and internationalization, a follow-up study was launched in 2009 to trace the changes of language attitudes over the past years. This paper reports on a comparison between the results of the two surveys, which shows ‘Pragmatic trilingualism’ as a future trend for the younger generation of Hong Kong. Having experienced the postcolonial changes for twelve years, informants of the 2009 study also showed significantly more positive attitudes toward Putonghua than their counterparts in 2001, as the language starts to take root in Hong Kong society along with the huge economic and demographic power of China.

Keywords: language attitudes; Hong Kong

About the article

Published Online: 2012-10-16

Published in Print: 2012-03-01

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 83–111, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2012.004.

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