Two decades of decolonization and renationalization: the evolutionary dynamics of Hong Kong English and an update of its functions and status*

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11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is an update of Luke and Richards and Li on the functions and status of English in postcolonial Hong Kong. Two decades after the handover, relatively little has changed except in the education domain. The ‘mother tongue education’ policy implemented from September 1998, whereby primary school-leavers are streamed into Chinese-medium and English-medium secondary schools, was ‘fine-tuned’ in 2009. Chinese-medium schools are given the flexibility to introduce English-medium classes to students under specific conditions. Hong Kong English is one of Edgar Schneider's 17 case studies of the evolutionary dynamics of postcolonial Englishes. The paper reviews a critique of that Dynamic Model based on Stephen Evans’s extensive diachronic evidence of HKE spanning from the 1850s to the 2010s. While ascertaining the heuristic value of Schneider’s analytical framework, Evans’s well-triangulated studies point toward the need for alternative periodization of HKE along the five uni-directional phases of evolutionary development of postcolonial Englishes. Evans’s analysis of Butler’s five criteria for determining the emergence of a localized variety of English will also be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-14
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Englishes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


  • Dynamic Model
  • evolutionary dynamics
  • Hong Kong English
  • medium of instruction
  • postcolonial Englishes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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