Towards a reconceptualisation of the Cantonese lexicon in contemporary Hong Kong: Classificatory possibilities and their implications for the local Chinese-as-an-additional-language curriculum

Wing Yu Hugo TAM, Samuel C. S. TSANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper proposes a tripartite model describing the lexical categories across different registers and levels of formality in the Cantonese language in contemporary Hong Kong: (i) native Cantonese words, (ii) Sino-Cantonese words, and (iii) Anglo-Cantonese words. Examples of authentic Cantonese use were used to illustrate the histories and etymology of key lexical categories and sub-categories as found in the city’s linguistic landscape. As a sensitising device, the proposed classificatory model highlights the role of lexical borrowings in the constitution of contemporary Cantonese lexis, whilst decentring a primarily Mandarin-based approach to research and practice. Given the authenticity and omnipresence of Cantonese use across spoken and written modalities in contemporary Hong Kong, this paper argues that there is much scope for disambiguating and systematising the place of Cantonese lexis in the local Chinese language curriculum. In this regard, the case of Chinese language provision for ethnolinguistic minority learners with Chinese-as-an-Additional-Language (CAL) needs in post-handover Hong Kong is put forth to call attention to the utility of this descriptive model in mitigating against the learning and pedagogical issues associated with the disconnect between the curriculum and authentic language use, as well as linguistic disintegration. Copyright © 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-456
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Volume26
Issue number4
Early online dateSept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Citation

Tam, H. W.-Y., & Tsang, S. C. (2023). Towards a reconceptualisation of the Cantonese lexicon in contemporary Hong Kong: Classificatory possibilities and their implications for the local Chinese-as-an-additional-language curriculum. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 26(4), 428-456. https://doi.org/10.1080/13670050.2022.2116267

Keywords

  • Language contact
  • Language policy
  • Lexical interaction
  • East Asian languages‌
  • Sinograph
  • Visual ethnography
  • Translingual words

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