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A corpus-based analysis of cultural conceptualizations from the domains of family and money in Hong Kong English

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Hong Kong culture blends paradoxes: In it, life and death, the real and the other world coexist in the traditions of its inhabitants, which eventually surface in the variety of English spoken in this Special Administrative Region of China. Our corpus-linguistic analysis, on the basis of ICE-HK and the GloWbE (Davies 2013) corpus, demonstrates the centrality of the family concept and its ramifications as well as its relation to the concept of money in Hong Kong English. The conceptualization children are an investment does not only show the conceptual network family and money belong to, but also lucidly shows the dynamics within the parent-child relationship, which is governed by filial piety and elderly care when the investment bears fruit. Collocations such as ‘hungry ghost,’ ‘hell money,’ and ‘worship ancestors’ are combinations of common core English terms that underwent semantic extension under the influence of the local Hong Kong cultural context. Our data shows how tightly language and culture are linked and that culture and cultural changes are the main factors to influence language and its development.
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Keywords: Cultural Linguistics; Hong Kong English; corpus linguistics; cultural conceptualizations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 14, 2017

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