English In Hong Kong Essay

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In 1842, Hong Kong was ceded to the British Empire and became a colonial state. The role that English played in Hong Kong society have received much attention over the last thirty years by people in different fields including academic commentators and political engagers. 1997 was considered to a commemorable year for Hong Kong for the reason that it signaled a new stage of its development and evolution as a unique city state in China. However, the status of English seems cannot be substituted by Chinese language easily. As Lin (1996) suggests, the predominant status of English in colonial Hong Kong was based on a “self-perpetuating myth”. And there are mainly three factors that led to the English-dominated symbolic market in Hong Kong: “the…show more content…
The importance of English as a language for global business and international commerce was always highlighted by Hong Kong people. Actually, according to the historical records, the English language was not the influential factors that caused the economic miracle achieved by Hong Kong after 1960s. It was the manufacturing industries set up by Hong Kong rich immigrants from Mainland China that led such as economic miracle. Those entrepreneurs brought their necessary capital and expertise to set up the industries in the colony. In addition, numbers of other immigrants from China provided cheap labor for the industries. Particularly, the competition between those cheap-labor industries was not stiff in the international market so that they could develop rapidly. Accordingly, the impact of English was very little during that period. However, after Chinese “open door” economic policy, Hong Kong’s labor-intensive industries shifted their base to China and thus became dependent on China gradually. But why people still insists that the economic success depended on English? Maybe the job market demand for English especially the white-collar jobs could explain their opinion. It could be seen that this phenomenon was part of the production of the government’s English-dominant policies. As for the education part, it was believed that English represents the language of science, technology and academy so that English should be the medium of instruction in higher-education institutions in Hong Kong. And if Chinese substitutes English, the standards will decline. It seems that the use of English in educational institutions was for guaranteeing the originality of the valuable foreign language and expertise. However, some substandard usage of English in the institutes such as code switching and code mixing were
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