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Phonetic Borrowing: Key to the vitality of written Cantonese in Hong Kong

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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 difficult to enforce. Despite the vitality of written Cantonese in Hong Kong, this paper argues against promoting Cantonese to the status of an official language.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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