The Changing Faces of Cantonese in Hong Kong

The Changing Faces of Cantonese in Hong Kong

Hire a custom writer who has experience.
It's time for you to submit amazing papers!

order now


It is believed that the written and spoken signifiers of linguistic communication are non entirely the tools of communicating but a hoarded wealth with tonss of cultural contexts. The diverseness in linguistic communications represents local civilization in different parts utilizing a common linguistic communication or idiom. The phenomenon of multilingualism is widely seen in Hong Kong, fundamentally because of its alone historical background and geographical location. Hong Kong is proud of its “bi-literacy and tri-lingualism” policy and it was deems successful in positioning Hong Kong as an international metropolis. [ 1 ]

Recently, there is increasing struggles in Hong Kong between the local civilization and the mainland civilization, including the difference between Hong Kong Cantonese and Putonghua ( Mandarin ) . Although Cantonese was initiated in Guangzhou, it has become the most common linguistic communication in Hong Kong that a high proportion of the population spoke Cantonese. Besides, Cantonese in Hong Kong has its alone features in its contents, particularly its looks with strong cultural background that is merely noticeable to Hong Kong people.


The survey was conducted through observation and media documentary from Radio Television Hong Kong ( RTHK ) . Cantonese is the first linguistic communication of the writer and he was analyzing in a secondary school utilizing Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic. The media text is adapted from an episode named “Cantonese” in a documental series by RTHK called “Hong Kong Connection” produced byDanny Sit. The serious of docudrama is one of the longest history in the facets of current personal businesss and cultural contexts airing programme in Hong Kong with high repute.


Tao, locally born post-80s cartoonist, draw sketchs by utilizing popular Cantonese slang. “Actually non much Cantonese slang can be drawn concretely such as ‘missing out some great chances is the worst thing in the world’ ( aY·e??e??e ­?…?e?Z?•-a®¶ ) ” , he said. He learnt ‘to ticker a Equus caballus battle from the top of a fort’ ( a??a-?aYZ??“c?‡e¦¬?‰“a?¤ ) , which means detecting from the out of boundss from mention books, which is non commonly bosom nowadays. It is replaced by another more graphic adage – ‘to eat peanuts while waiting for movie’ ( e?Ya??eS±c”Yc­‰c?‡??? ) . There is merely a few mentions and records would cover this sort of information. Even Hong Kong people can non recognize such interesting points when utilizing their linguistic communication.

In the past few old ages,Taohas used Cantonese as inspiration for his creative activity. He believed that overpowering response to his recent creative activity was largely related to the uncertainness of the dominant function of Cantonese in Hong Kong in the past few months. For illustration, the issue of utilizing Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic in schools has raised concerns. Some worried that The Cantonese contention in Guangzhou, which the authorization suggested to change over Mandarin as the primary scheduling linguistic communication to minimise the broadcast medium of Cantonese, would go on in Hong Kong that the following coevals will non be familiar with Cantonese any longer. He is delighted to allow more people to cognize the alone civilization of Cantonese, its color, wit and flexibleness through his creative activities.

From 2008, the Education Bureau and the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research ( SCOLAR ) started to promote schools to utilize Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic. Nowadays, 70 % of primary schools in Hong Kong and 40 % of secondary schools adopted the policy. Some schools foremost adopted the policy in selective categories which showed better academic consequences.

MissLiu Jian, a primary school Chinese instructor, started to go a instructor after migrated to Hong Kong from mainland China. “Using Putonghua to learn Chinese allows pupils to utilize Putonghua and Cantonese in category and after category to discourse with classmates and instructors, which can beef up students’ competency in bi-literacy and tri-lingualism” , she said.

MissTang Siu Yanfrom Hong Kong, a primary school Chinese instructor, holds a different position. “There is less interaction when pupils use Putonghua to pass on with instructors because of fear.” Students may state less in return to avoid ridicule by others when articulating Putonghua wrongly. However, parents are willing to allow their childs to hold more opportunities to larn Putonghua which may be good to their hereafter callings.

Lau, who studied Linguistics in University, worried that Cantonese function in Hong Kong would be affected if the strategy of utilizing Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic in schools is to the full adopted. Therefore, he started to advance a run to promote Hong Kong people to utilize Cantonese with his post-80s and post-90s friends. A month ago, he found that the Education Bureau clearly mentioned that Cantonese is a idiom in its web site. He so drafted a ailment missive to come back the statement instantly to coerce the Education Bureau to retreat the statement at last. He explained, people believed Classical Chinese was the lone written signifier in Chinese before the New Culture Movement. Later, the reform is successful that modern Chinese is normally accepted and becomes the bulk. Similarly, people tend to compose Cantonese when utilizing societal networking sites and SMS. Although Cantonese is non popular in official and formal occasions, it is still possible to utilize Cantonese elsewhere.

Laudiscovered that many kindergartens have switched to either bi-lingualism ( Putonghua and English ) or English instruction. He worried that if kids learnt Putonghua when they are excessively immature, they may meet the job of linguistic communication individuality that garbage to utilize Cantonese when they grow. When he selected Chinese instruction stuffs for his girl, he found that most stuffs are published by the Taiwan or the Mainland with different linguistic communication use wonts than Hong Kong. For illustration, “sofa” , “chair” , “table” , “potato” and “tomato” were expressed otherwise in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland. Although they are still apprehensible for most Chinese talkers, they are diverse in local civilizations.

The effects and effects of the strategy of utilizing Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic in schools may be more serious than that of national instruction. But, less people realized the importance of protecting Cantonese and its civilizations in Hong Kong. Cantonese civilizations composes of different elements, Cantonese linguistic communication possibly is the most important 1. Yue has been the first linguistic communication in Hong Kong and Guangdong ( Canton ) part for ages that should non be reduced to a secondary-class linguistic communication behind Mandarin. Cantonese should non be the cost of a high degree of proficiency in Putonghua.

Lauconducted an experimental research in a local primary school learning Chinese linguistic communication in Putonghua to look into the effects of utilizing Putonghua to learn Chinese linguistic communication topic in schools. The consequences showed that students’ vocabulary use is affected by Putonghua, including simplest words such as “ball” , “carrot” and “doll” . The job is more serious when pupils are asked to read out a transition or discourse a more complex issue by utilizing Cantonese. He besides initiated an on-line Cantonese lexicon undertaking aimed at working up a database for Cantonese in Hong Kong.

Jerome, Manchu people, strongly supports Lau’s work. “Manchau people didn’t recognize our linguistic communication is our most valuable civilization resources, which protection is required. Nowadays, out of 10 million Manchu people, merely less than five can truly talk in Manchu language” , he commended. Lau supplemented that if everyone in Hong Kong switches to Putonghua, we will shortly loss our cultural individuality, so loss of sense as Hong Kong citizen.


The conceptual theoretical account of cultural hybridisation has been truly criticized for being excessively deterministic. Cultural hybridisation can be observed in many cultural spheres which linguistic communication constitute an indispensable portion of the cultural contents.

“Hybridization is defined as a procedure whereby separate and disparate entities or procedures generate another entity of procedure ( the loanblend ) , which portions certain characteristics with each of its beginnings but which is non strictly compositional” ( Stockhammer 133 ) .

The hybridisation of linguistic communications is a long procedure that although the procedure is normally in a bipartisan way, one would rule another like Cantonese and Putonghua ( Stockhammer 135 ) . In Guangzhou, Putonghua is preferred by the authorities and Cantonese was being isolated and being replaced. In Hong Kong, Cantonese has a more solid background that makes it more hard to be replaced given the fact that Putonghua has started to occupy the Cantonese civilization.

Lexical degree is an discernible intimation to find the hybridisation degree of linguistic communications. Hybridization may take topographic point when new words are borrowed from other linguistic communications ( Stockhammer 137 ) . Unlike other linguistic communications that diverse composing systems consist of different alphabets is adopted, both Putonghua and Cantonese belong to the Chinese linguistic communication system sharing the same authorship system ignoring the usage traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. [ 2 ] Harmonizing to the research conducted byLauto primary school pupils, some pupils improperly used vocabulary and looks used in Putonghua when talking in Cantonese. In fact, this state of affairs is normally found when talking to new migrates from the mainland with strong Putonghua speech patterns.

Reasons of adoption of words are infinite, such as foreign construct, cultural procedure and authorities entity. It is credible that the two linguistic communications may breed each other in different degrees. It is besides extremely questionable that the procedure is good or harmful to one or both linguistic communication ( s ) or civilization ( s ) buttocks. In the most utmost instance, the borrowed words may go dominant and replace the masters ( Stockhammer 140 ) . InTao’s creative activity, its clearly identified the cultural backgrounds of Cantonese slang and pointed out that looks in Cantonese changed at the same time with local personal businesss and continuously to reflect people’s alteration in life manners.

The combination of the linguistic communications in cultural hybridisation is non arbitrary. The two civilizations normally shared some common patterns and beliefs that provide enterprises for hybridisation ( Song 16 ) . In Hong Kong, most people agreed that the proficiency of both Cantonese and Putonghua are every bit of import as stated by MissNip. As Hong Kong is close to mainland China and after the transportation of sovereignty from British to Chinese authorities, the transportation of cognition and capital between Hong Kong and China becomes more convenient to ease the spread of civilization ( Wu 59-60 ) . In the procedure, Cantonese and Putonghua are profoundly involved and become indivisible. Therefore, local civilization becomes more complex and Hong Kong need clip to digest the monolithic civilization daze from mainland.

In add-on, communicating is still the major usage of linguistic communication. The protection of linguistic communication should non be done when it is making the procedure of decease. A linguistic communication is considered active when transmitter and receiving system have options to open up a conversation freely ( Stockhammer 149 ) . MissNippointed out that her pupils can non pass on good without utilizing their most familiar linguistic communication, i.e. Cantonese. In hybridisation, if one is forced to utilize a linguistic communication that he/she is non familiar with, the procedure is non running in a positive mode.

However, it does non mention to subverting the policy of bi-literacy and tri-lingualism. No uncertainty, over-hybridization may harm the cultural and linguistic communication individuality of the local community. The difference between Cantonese and Putonghua is non merely a pick of linguistic communication, but modern-day societal civilization and economic procedures. It is possible to happen a constructive manner to ease the on-going civilization hybridisation.

“Globalization does non be in isolation, instead it both contributes to and is reinforced by a figure of modern-day socio-economic and sociocultural processes” ( Hopper 139 ) .

The interconnection between the mainland and Hong Kong is quickly raised. The cultural contents of the two locations necessarily overlap and become associated ( Hopper 140 ) . The spread of mainland broad-based civilization eroded portion of the Cantonese civilization in Guangzhou which some people considered this as a foreseeable hereafter in Hong Kong. As a consequence, some militants and innovators in Cantonese linguistic communication civilization such asTaoandLau, found different runs by utilizing different agencies for a common end – to protect local Cantonese civilization for the future coevals.

The beginnings of differences chiefly come from the uncomplete and uneven procedure of hybridisation. In other words, the procedure is inclined to one of the civilization and erroneously interpreted as invasion. In peculiarly, these does non actuate cultural struggle but as an avoidable procedure in the hybridisation ( Hopper 154, 156 ) . Hong Kong will eventually happen its manner for positioning the function of Cantonese and uninterrupted to absorb outside civilization but non to keep the hereafter development of Cantonese.


To sum up, cultural hybridisation on a substantial degree of Cantonese and Putonghua is non a bad thing. It is wise that some people realize the importance of conserving local civilization through protecting Cantonese linguistic communication. The key to go on the procedure of cultural hybridisation in a positive mode is to to the full understand the singularity of the local civilization. In the instance, matching runs are adopted to elicit public concerns on the function of Cantonese in Hong Kong

The research is done chiefly from the documental broadcast medium from RTHK which the positions and information provided are utterly focussed due to the restriction in brocading clip and some relevant data point are non included in item. The treatment is supplemented with academic mentions to supply a more comprehensive position in the instance survey.

Cantonese in Hong Kong stand for its long history and development phases which is the corporate memory to every Hong Kong citizen. The alteration in Cantonese will go on to reflect the changing civilization constructions of the local communities. Hence, Cantonese talkers should go on to utilize Cantonese as a major pass oning tool in day-to-day lives to go on its of import function in Hong Kong. In-depth discovering of development phases of Cantonese could be farther researched to consolidate the Cantonese history in Hong Kong.


“Cantonese.”Hong Kong Connection. Radio Television Hong Kong, 23 Mar 2014. Television.

Chan, Kwok B, Jan Walls, and David Hayward.East-west Identities: Globalization,Localization, and Hybridization. Leyden: Brill, 2007. Web.

Hopper, Paul.Understanding Cultural Globalization. Cambridge, UK: Civil order, 2007. Print.

Song, Yin. “Cultural Hybridization: Rethinking Globalization in China and the U.S.” MA thesis. State University of New York at Buffalo, 2009. Web.

Stockhammer, Philipp.Gestating Cultural Hybridization: A TransdisciplinaryApproach. German capital: Springer, 2012. Print.

Wu, Fung-hoi.A Study of Written Cantonese and Hong Kong Culture: TheDevelopment of Cantonese Dialect Literature Before and After the Change ofSovereignty. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong, 2003. Web.



I'm Heather

Would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out