Evidentiality and identity positioning in online disputes about language use in Hong Kong

Jamie Mckeown, Hans J. Ladegaard

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper analyses online disputes amongst a group of students about the use of language (Cantonese versus Putonghua) in Hong Kong. Using evidentiality and identity positioning frameworks, we analyse 44 student posts to a proprietary online forum. Particular attention is paid to the construction of a Hong Kong social identity, the various identity positions that underpin such a construction, and how such identity work is supported by the use of evidentiality. The analysis shows that Hong Kong locals are most often constructed as an oppressed, marginalised minority who are denied the right of authentic expression and are subject to a process of politically expedient cultural denigration. The analysis also shows that evidential choices are intimately bound with identity positions at both the discourse-production level and discourse-content level. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for applied linguistics in Hong Kong's schools and universities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-74
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Cantonese and putonghua in Hong Kong classrooms
  • Evidentiality
  • Identity positioning
  • Online discussion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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