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Title: The decline and fall of English in Hong Kong's Legislative Council
Authors: Evans, S 
Keywords: Colonialism
Hong Kong
Language choice
Language use
Linguistic domains
Public discourse
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Source: Journal of multilingual and multicultural development, 2014, v. 35, no. 5, p. 479-496 How to cite?
Journal: Journal of multilingual and multicultural development 
Abstract: This article presents the findings of a corpus-based study of the use of English vis-a-vis Cantonese and Putonghua in Hong Kong's Legislative Council in the past four decades. The objective of the study was to track the changing fortunes of the three languages in a key government institution during a period of unprecedented political, economic and social change. This was accomplished by analysing a 91-million-word corpus of Council proceedings derived from Hong Kong Hansard, which is the verbatim record of Council meetings. For the greater part of the colonial era (1842-1997), English was the sole medium of communication in the chamber. It was only in 1972 that Cantonese-speaking members were permitted to use the city's majority language in Council debates. In that year every speech was in English. Forty years later, only 0.38% of the addresses were in the colonial language, the overwhelming majority being in Cantonese (99.45%), with only a handful in Putonghua. This article describes and discusses the rise of Cantonese and the concomitant demise of English since the early 1970s, with a particular focus on the transitional 1990s, and speculates on the roles of Cantonese and Putonghua in the legislature in the years ahead.
ISSN: 0143-4632 (print)
1747-7557 (online)
DOI: 10.1080/01434632.2013.873802
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