Bilingualism in Hong Kong

Bilingualism in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a bilingual city, its residents speaking English and Cantonese which are both official languages of Hong Kong under the Hong Kong Basic Law (Article 9) and the Official Languages Ordinance (Chapter 5).

English as an official language

The British colonised Hong Kong in 1840 as a free port to serve as an entrepôt of the British Empire, and the British Authorities and businessmen spoke English. Caucasian Hong Kongers remained the ethnic and linguistic majority until the early 1900s when Chinese immigrants began to outnumber the British. The British continued to use English as an official language, but added Chinese as an official language of the colony in late 1970s.

Following the 1997 handover of the colony, English is still widely used in law and business, and it is still taught in schools and spoken by over 30% of the population.Fact|date=September 2008 The British have also left their language on place names within Hong Kong, particularly on Hong Kong Island, where British rule had the largest impact.

Cantonese as an official language

Cantonese, the Chinese dialect of Guangdong and other parts of southern China became an official language of Hong Kong when the Chinese population of the colony grew ("above"). Hong Kong's population reached 6.99 million in 2006, [" [ Hong Kong Statistics - Population and Vital Events] ", Census and Statistics Department. Retrieved 2007-02-02] of which approximately 95% are of Chinese descent, the majority of which was Cantonese, Hakka, and Teochew.

Most Chinese Hongkongers speak Cantonese at home and approximately 33% know English as a second language.Fact|date=September 2008

Code-switching in Hong Kong

Code-switching, or the practice of using more than one language in conversation, is very common in Hong Kong. It usually involves a mix of Cantonese and English as a result of the bilingualism in Hong Kong.

Other languages in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to a wide range of ethnicities, and substantial portions of Hongkongers are neither native English nor Cantonese speakers. Japanese is the largest non-official language, with over 25,000 Japanese people in Hong Kong. Vietnamese refugees emigrated to Hong Kongwhen and still speak Vietnamese as their first language.

There is a significant number of South Asians in Hong Kong. Signboards written in Hindi or Urdu are common in areas with South Asians, and languages such as Nepali, Sindhi and Punjabi are often heard on the streets of Hong Kong as well.

There are also two newspapers written in Nepalese in Hong Kong, "The Everest" and the "Sunrise Weekly Hong Kong". In 2004, the Home Affairs Bureau and Metro Plus AM 1044 jointly launched radio shows "Hong Kong-Pak Tonight" in Urdu and "Harmo Sagarmatha" in Nepalese [cite news|url=|title=Urdu and Nepali radio programmes to launch|date-2004-11-19|accessdate=2007-01-12|publisher=Hong Kong Information Services Department] .

Arabic is used frequently among members of Muslim communities in Hong Kong, and it is quickly becoming a popular language to learn. [cite web|url=|accessdate=2007-01-12|date=2006-04-03|title=古蘭經及阿文新課程 (Qur'an and Arabic language class)|] .

ee also

* Code-switching in Hong Kong
*Bilingualism in Canada
* English Language
* Cantonese
* Colonial Hong Kong
* Bilingual streetsign
* Culture of Hong Kong
* Literature of Hong Kong
* Demographics of Hong Kong
* Hong Kong English
* Chinglish
* Chinese Pidgin English


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