In this paper I describe the mocking and playful verbal practices of some Cantonese working-class secondary schoolboys in an English language lesson in Hong Kong. I show how these Cantonese-speaking adolescents seek to assert their indigenous identity and their ingenious Cantonese competence in an educational system that places Cantonese at the bottom of the hierarchy of languages. These self-asserting verbal practices of working- class schoolboys, while in themselves artful and playful, do not contribute to the breaking through of the reproduction and perpetuation of these schoolboys' subordinated and insulated Cantonese sociocultural world, where there is little access to the socioeconomically dominant symbolic resource of English. Without access to English, they can hardly access the middle-class bilingual identity and the socioeconomic success and social status that come with it. Paradoxically, by acting out resistance to an alienating English curriculum, they contribute to the perpetuation of their own insularity and subordination and are trapped in a cycle of disadvantage. The paper concludes with a discussion of the possible impact of the transition of Hong Kong from a British colony to a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on language, identity, and social class in post-1997 Hong Kong. Copyright © 2000 Walter de Gruyter.
|Journal||International Journal of the Sociology of Language|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|