Language policy and planning in Hong Kong: Colonial and post-colonial perspectives
Date of Issue2011
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Hong Kong ceased to be a colony of Britain on June 30th, 1997, thus entering a new stage of its development and evolution as a uniquely-constituted city state and urban metropolis. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (HKSAR) inherited a linguistic ecology that owed much to its previous existence as a British colony, where the Chinese language had had no de jure status until 1974. From 1995, the stated policy of government has been to promote a “biliterate” (Chinese and English) and “trilingual” (Cantonese, Putonghua and English) society, and various measures have also been taken to promote the use of Chinese as a medium of instruction in schools. Immediately after the change in sovereignty, Putonghua became a compulsory school subject for the first time. This paper will examine the issue of language planning and policies partly froman historical perspective, but also through a consideration of current policies and practices across a range of domains, including government, law and education. One major conclusion that emerges from this discussion is that, from a language policy perspective, the relationship between Chinese and English in the Hong Kong context is potentially far less contentious than that between Cantonese and Putonghua.
Applied Linguistics Review
© 2011 De Gruyter. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Applied Linguistics Review, De Gruyter. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/9783110239331.51].