Phonetic borrowing: Key to the vitality of written cantonese in Hong Kong

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese Hongkongers express themselves increasingly in written Cantonese, resulting in the proliferation of Cantonese elements in the Hong Kong Chinese press. To overcome the orthographic gap, Hongkongers resort to phonetic borrowing and phonetic compound formation. Phonetic borrowing may be based on modern standard Chinese or on English. Script mixing is very common, suggesting that linguistic convergence has taken place. Eighteen months after the British handover to the People’s Republic of China, this situation remains unchanged. Standardization of Cantonese is desirable, but will be diYcult to enforce. Despite the vitality of written Cantonese in Hong Kong, this paper argues against promoting Cantonese to the status of an oYcial language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-233
Number of pages35
JournalWritten Language and Literacy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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