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Title: The integration of English loanwords in Hong Kong Cantonese
Authors: Wong, CSP 
Bauer, RS
Lam, WMZ
Issue Date: 2009
Source: Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 2009, v. 1, p. 251-266
Abstract: Borrowing from English into Cantonese has been the catalyst for change in the Cantonese phonological system and lexicon. Many English loanwords have become fully integrated into Hong Kong Cantonese as demonstrated in this paper. Our research team has compiled a database comprising around 700 English loanwords. This paper presents data demonstrating how extensive has been the integration of English loanwords into Cantonese in terms of the following linguistic features: (a) Suffixation: The Cantonese suffix 哋 dei2 is added to reduplicated monosyllabic stative verbs to mean ‘having some quality of the stative verb’. Some English loanwords undergo the same process: HIGH haai1 ‘high’ becomes HIGH HIGH 哋 hai1 hai1 dei2 ‘a little excited’. Many English loanwords can take the Cantonese aspectual marker 咗 zo2: CHECK cek1 ‘check’ becomes CHECK 咗 cek1 zo2 ‘have checked’. (b) Change of Syntactic Categories: Upon being borrowed into Cantonese, some loanwords change their syntactic categories. The noun man becomes the stative verb MAN men1 ‘manly’ as in 好 MAN hou2 men1 ‘very manly’ and MAN MAN 哋 men1 men1 dei2 ‘with some manly quality’. (c) Productivity: A loanword may be incorporated into the Cantonese grammatical structure to generate new lexical items as demonstrated by撈 lou1 ‘Rolex’ as in 金撈 gam1 lou1 ‘gold Rolex’ and 鑽撈 zyun3 lou1 ‘diamond Rolex’. (d) Acceptability: Some English loanwords have become so integrated into Cantonese that speakers who know no English assume they are ordinary Cantonese words such as 巴士 baa1 si6/2 ‘bus’. These features provide solid evidence that many English loanwords have become thoroughly integrated into Cantonese.
Publisher: Pacific Linguistics
Journal: Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 
ISSN: 1836-6821
Rights: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 License
Appears in Collections:Journal/Magazine Article

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