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Investigating Hong Kong English

Globalization and Identity

Series:

Qi Zhang

The status of Hong Kong English has been an increasing concern among the local population. Despite prolific research into attitudes towards language variation within the field of sociolinguistics in general, very few studies have focused on the Hong Kong context. Previous research has demonstrated that native English speakers tend to evaluate Standard English varieties highly as far as status is concerned, while non-standard varieties are evaluated highly in terms of solidarity. There is still, however, a noticeable lack of information about the attitudes of Hong Kong Chinese people to different English varieties and, particularly, about their attitudes to the local non-standard variety.
This richly detailed case study sets out to investigate the attitudes of Hong Kong university students to eight varieties of English speech. It employs a range of direct and indirect techniques of attitude measurement in order to obtain in-depth information about the students’ perceptions. The book also discusses the important pedagogical implications of the choice of linguistic model in English language teaching, both within the Hong Kong population and among other Chinese communities.
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Chapter 3: Attitudes and Language Attitude Studies

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CHAPTER 3

Attitudes and Language Attitude Studies

In the two previous chapters, the theoretical framework and general background to the current research were described. This chapter introduces, first, the nature of human attitudes, providing a definition of what they are and illustrating the relationship between attitude and behaviour. I will then explore the central role occupied by language attitude research in sociolinguistics. I will review a variety of language attitude studies with a special focus on those conducted in Hong Kong, bearing in mind that there is a paucity of research into attitudes towards different English accents in this context.

3.1 The nature of attitudes

Attitudes have long been an important subject for research in fields like social psychology and sociolinguistics (Agheyesi and Fishman 1970: 137; Eagly and Chaiken 1993: 1; Garrett et al. 2003: 2; McKenzie 2007: 23). In this section, definitions of what constitutes an attitude are provided alongside those for a number of related concepts.

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