Mainland Chinese students’ attitudes towards code-mixing and identity negotiation

Hanyun WU

Research output: ThesisHonours Projects (HP)


Code-mixing refers to the insertion of some isolated words in another language when the base language can be easily identified (Holmes & Wilson, 2017). A pioneering study (Gibbons, 1987) showed Cantonese-English code-mixing was widely used by university students. Chan (2004), then, found the popularity of code-mixing among secondary school students in Hong Kong, who even experienced communication breakdown without the insertion of English lexis. With the increasing number of mainland students who crossed the border to pursue tertiary education, Zhang (2019) revealed that mainland students started to apply code-mixing after sojourning in Macao, and a cross-border identity was formed. Hence, this research aimed to investigate mainland Chinese students’ use of code-mixing, attitudes toward it and their identity negotiation in Hong Kong.

20 mainland Chinese undergraduates at The Education University of Hong Kong and 4 counterparts studying in the mainland were involved in this research. At stage one, each of them had a casual conversation with the investigator and 5 Hong Kong students and all 4 mainland informants were invited to have an individual interview with the host to explain their motivation, attitudes and identity shift regarding code-mixing. Analysing the mixed items obtained from the conversation and interview transcripts, this research revealed that mainland students acquired code-mixing after studying in Hong Kong, a multilingual society, especially affected by the English-medium instruction and the intercultural communication with the local people. Meanwhile, they felt to be more integrated into the local community and the Hong Kong identity was enhanced after picking up the linguistic practice of codemixing, which was considered “innate” of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationBachelor of Education (Honours)
  • CHIN, Chi On, Andy 錢志安, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Code-mixing
  • Language and identity
  • Language attitudes
  • Mainland Chinese
  • Honours Project (HP)
  • Bachelor of Education (Honours) (English Language) (Five-year Full-time)
  • Programme code: A5B059
  • Course code: ENG4905


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