Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

Cantonese v Mandarin: When Hong Kong languages get political

“When Hong Kong was handed back from the UK to China in 1997, only a quarter of the population spoke any Mandarin.

Now, two decades later, that figure has nearly doubled.

But even as people get better at communicating in Mandarin, also known as Putonghua, some in Hong Kong are losing interest, or even downright refusing to speak it.

This is because, for many, Putonghua has become an unwelcome reminder of the increasing “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong.”

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Languages do matter!


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