Language attitudes of the first postcolonial generation in Hong Kong secondary schools

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Abstract

Following the return of sovereignty from Britain to China, Hong Kong has undergone significant sociopolitical and educational changes. This study is a quantitative investigation of the language attitudes of 1,048 secondary students from the first postcolonial generation brought up amid the significant changes after the political handover. The results show that the respondents feel the most integratively inclined to Cantonese (the vernacular variety), and they perceive English (the colonizers' language) as the language of the highest instrumental value and social status, while Putonghua (the language of the new ruler) is rated the lowest from both the integrative and the instrumental perspectives. Unlike what has been predicted by scholars, Putonghua has not yet taken the place of English as the language of power. Despite this, there are signs of a subtle transition toward an accommodating attitude to Putonghua, mainly induced by the growing instrumental value of the language for economic purposes. Copyright © 2005 Cambridge University Press
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-388
JournalLanguage in Society
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005

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Hong Kong
secondary school
language
sovereignty
Language
Language Attitudes
Secondary School
Values
social status
China
Putonghua
economics
student
Instrumental Value

Citation

Lai, M.-L. (2005). Language attitudes of the first postcolonial generation in Hong Kong secondary schools. Language in Society, 34(3), 363-388.

Keywords

  • Language attitudes
  • Postcolonial Hong Kong