A tale of two special administrative regions: The state of multilingualism in Hong Kong and Macao

David C.S. Li, Choi Lan Tong

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter gives an overview of language diversity in Hong Kong and Macao. Both places enjoy a high level of sociopolitical autonomy, including the continued use of the former colonial languages-English and Portuguese, respectively-as co-official languages alongside Chinese, which is understood to refer to spoken Cantonese and Mandarinbased Standard Written Chinese (SWC). The language policies in both places aim at achieving biliteracy and trilingualism: the ability to read and write Chinese and English, and to speak and understand Cantonese, English, and Mandarin. Unlike elsewhere in the sinophone world, Cantonese as a regional Sinitic variety continues to be used as the medium of instruction (MoI) from kindergarten to secondary-level schools. Language contact phenomena, such as lexical borrowing from English and code-switching, are commonplace. With cross-border visits to and from mainland China becoming more and more frequent, the use of Mandarin is increasingly frequent in both communities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Diversity in the Sinophone World
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical Trajectories, Language Planning, and Multilingual Practices
EditorsHenning Klöter, Mårten Söderblom Saarela
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781003049890
ISBN (Print)9780367504519
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


  • Multilingual Hong Kong SAR
  • multilingual Macau SAR
  • biliteracy and trilingualism 兩文三語
  • language contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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