Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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Britain's 150 year colonial administration of Hong Kong came to an end in June 1997 when the territory reverted to Chinese sovereignty. Because the fate of languages is closely related to the power of different groups in a society, this constitutional transition raises important issues of language and identity. At present English continues to play an important role in business and administration while Cantonese is the lingua franca of a highly cohesive and independent community. However, the extent to which the colonial language is a component of the Territory's identity, and the prospect of it retaining an influential role, remains to be seen. Reunification is likely to have a considerable impact on language attitudes and use with Putonghua, the official language of mainland China, emerging to challenge English and Cantonese as a high status language in public domains. This paper builds on previous studies by Pierson et al. (1980) and Pennington & Yue (1994) to examine the changing language attitudes brought about by the handover. A questionnaire was administered to 900 Hong Kong undergraduates to discover students' perspectives on language and cultural identity, social, affective and instrumental attitudes and general predictions for language use with a view towards the political transition.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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