Gender and language attitudes: A case of postcolonial Hong Kong

Mee Ling LAI

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20 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the findings of a study that investigates the attitudes of 555 boys and 493 girls towards the three official spoken languages used in postcolonial Hong Kong (i.e. Cantonese, English and Putonghua). The respondents started their secondary school education one year after the city was returned to the sovereignty of China from Britain. They were in their fourth year of studies at the time of this research. A questionnaire survey was conducted to find out how differently the two gender groups perceived the three target languages when they were repositioning themselves in the new sociopolitical context of Hong Kong. Informed by the quantitative results, group interviews were conducted to explore the reasons underlying the main attitudinal differences between the two genders. Similar to the research conducted in other parts of the world, female respondents were found to be consistently more positive than their male counterparts in their attitudes towards the non-native languages while male students were more positively inclined to the vernacular. Given the more accommodating attitudes of females to other languages, it is more likely that they will be the group who pushes Hong Kong forward towards a higher degree of multilingualism. Copyright © 2007 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-116
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


Lai, M.-L. (2007). Gender and language attitudes: A case of postcolonial Hong Kong. International Journal of Multilingualism, 4(2), 83-116.


  • Gender
  • Language attitudes
  • Hong Kong


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