Hong Kong English

Danny   Friday, December 03, 2004, 18:22 GMT
Hello! I'm doing a study of the type of English spoken in Hong Kong as part of my MPhil course. I'd like to know from any Cantonese speakers from Hong Kong if they consider Hong Kong English to be a legitimate form of English in its own right, or if they think Hong Kong speakers should follow the norms of English as followed in L1 countries such as the UK&Ireland/US&Canada/Aust.&NZ.

To focus the question a bit more. The following features are typical of Hong Kong English:-

(1) On the phonemic level: not distinguishing between /i/ and /i:/; reduced use of the schwa phoneme; not distinguishing between say 'pot' and 'port' (I can't seem to get this page to accept phonemic symbols, so I have to illustrate by example!)

(2) On the grammatical level: treating mass nouns as count nouns e.g. alphabets, equipments, furnitures, staffs etc.; omission of the 's' in the 3rd person and plural inflections, so "a bowl of noodle" etc.

Do you think these features of Hong Kong English should be as acceptable as the features found in so-called "inner-circle" countries (UK, US etc.), or should Hong Kong speakers follow accepted L1 country speaker norms? (if the second, which variety? UK or US or Australian)

Although I'm mainly interested in what Hong Kong people think, anyone should feel free to contribute to this question if they find it interesting (but please indicate your nationality before your answer).
Steve K   Saturday, December 04, 2004, 00:16 GMT
Hong Kong people speak English poorly as a rule. The better they speak the less the exhibit the idiosyncracies you have described. Singapore English is a much better example of an acceptable alternate form of English.
Hongkonger   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 13:33 GMT
Greetings from Hong Kong.

We've started to learn English from kindergarten but most Hong Kong people can't speak English. They can write or read but they can't speak.
Steve K   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 15:09 GMT
Not all write that well either.Writing well in another language is difficult.
Danny   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 17:35 GMT
But don't you think that there's a kind of 'Hong Kong English' developing?
Steve K   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 18:44 GMT
If anything such a phenomenon was more prevalent earlier. English is in decline in Hong Kong. Besides what kind of a useless research project is this? There is Swedish English, Japanese English, German English, French English , Chinese English etc. why single out Hong Kong. All non-native speakers have common problems with pronunciation and structure.
Danny   Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 23:38 GMT
Thanks for the inciteful comments Steve. If only I'd known it was useless earlier, I never would have started it. You're one heck of a smart guy.
Steve K   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 01:06 GMT
Adam   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 02:27 GMT
I realized immediately that he meant 'insightful'. I would have thought that a man with language credentials like yours would have no problem deciphering a little spelling mistake like that.

Anyway, for your information:

insightful - Showing or having insight; perceptive
Mxsmanic   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 04:51 GMT
I wouldn't classify versions of English as spoken by non-native speakers as variants of the standard language, and I'm not sure what point there is in studying them. One might as well study French Chinese.
Adam   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 05:17 GMT
In defense of the point of this topic, there are many things that I would personally see no point in studying, but that does not mean that studying those things is completely worthless endeavour. Perhaps some interesting, hitherto unknown, information could come out of a study of 'Hong Kong' English (that is, if there is such a thing).
Adam   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 05:19 GMT
should have been "is 'a' completely. . ."
Steve K   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 07:04 GMT

You are a true son of our education system. As long as the tax payer is footing the bill there is not subject of study or research that is so useless, far-fetched or obscure that a self-satisfied, self-styled intellectual should not indulge in it.
Adam   Thursday, December 09, 2004, 07:12 GMT

Always a joy having an exchange of thoughts and ideas with.