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Investigating Hong Kong English

Globalization and Identity


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 6: Data Analysis: The Effects of Informants’ Socio-Demographic Characteristics on the Formation of Attitudes



Data Analysis: The Effects of Informants’ Socio-Demographic Characteristics on the Formation of Attitudes

In the first section of this chapter, I will analyse the main effects of a number of social variables on the informants’ evaluations. In the second section, I will present the findings from the data collected from questions relating to variety recognition and an investigation of the possible effect of accent/variety recognition on evaluations of that variety.

6.1 Main effects of social variables on informants’ evaluations

Information concerning the socio-demographic backgrounds of the informants was collected as part of the research in order to investigate whether these variables might influence people’s attitudes towards the varieties of English under consideration. I also wanted to test the extent to which these social factors might account for differences observed in the data. The social variables I investigated were: 1) gender; 2) familiarity with the English language and specific English varieties; 3) cultural identity; and 4) socio-economic status (see also Chapter 4, section 4.5). The following sub-sections contain an analysis of the potential impact of the informants’ socio-demographic profile on their overall ratings of the eight varieties of English. I also conducted separate tests on the interaction between social factors and average ratings of the four speakers of HKE, since HKE is the main focus of the current study. Although previous studies have also considered ← 147 | 148 → a number of social variables (e.g. Bolton and Kwok 1990; Candler 2001; Poon 2007)...

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