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Bilingualism In The Chinese Language In Hong Kong

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A. Introduction
In Hong Kong, the city where East meets West, an unique language system has been established due to its special historical background. According to the Thematic Household Survey Report No. 51 published in 2013, over 90% of people aged 6 to 65 in Hong Kong have reported themselves as native Cantonese speakers. However, Cantonese is merely referred to as a regional dialect “with no standardized written form” (Ng, 2009: xxi) while both Chinese and English are currently deemed as the official languages of Hong Kong.
The language system in this metropolitan city is somehow complicated because of its colonial background. In the following sections, Hong Kong’s colonial history will be discussed in detail and how this colonial background led to bilingualism will also be explained. Meanwhile, languages used in this bilingual yet diglossic city produce hierarchical status in the society. During the colonial period, English, which refers to the high variety, has been widely used in the Government and by the legal, professional and business sectors, while Cantonese, which refers to the low variety, has been mainly used in social communication as the colloquial dialect. Nonetheless, after the handover of sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong has become the major gateway to China and hence, Mandarin has started to play a significant role in the society although English remains to be the ‘high’ language mainly used in the Government and by the legal sectors. The change in usage of these languages in Hong Kong before and after 1997 will also be explored in this paper.

B. History of Colonial Hong Kong
As Hong Kong Tourism Board (n.d.) introduces, Hong Kong had been a British colony for 155 years since the first Opium War in 1842 when ...

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...etter prepared for university study and have better chance to be accepted by universities
• Parents believe that English is a vehicle to success and well being of their children – the affluent fluent English speaking businessmen and well-paid English speaking government civil servants have been constantly conveying the message that more English is advantageous to their children
Reducing the number of EMI schools has, in fact, lifting the status of English language.
Although the powers of all English, Standard Chinese and Cantonese have not been hugely influenced by the handover, there was still a major change because Hong Kong government has started to promote Mandarin through the education system. As Davison and Lai (2007: 121-122) well observe, by the 2003/04 academic year, there were over 90% of all primary and secondary schools offering Mandarin as a subject.
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