Varieties of English
in Hong Kong
In 1684, the Kangxi Emperor, the third emperor of the Qing Dynasty in China, issued an edict to open several customs stations, which include Canton port in Guangdong Province, for trading with foreign merchants. One year later in 1685, Foreign traders were allowed to enter these ports.1 The first Britons reached Hong Kong when the British East India Company started trading in this area through the trading post in Canton (Guangzhou).1
In 1836, the Chinese government prohibited the opium trade and in March 1839, Lin Zexu, as the special Imperial Commissioner in Canton, destroyed the opium in public. In 1840, the British implemented the First Opium War. In 1841, the British captured Hong Kong Island during the war. On 29 August 1842, Hong Kong Island was ceded under the Treaty of Nanking and established as a British colony.2 Over the next 150 years, Britons came to Hong Kong in large numbers, many to work in the colony’s administration, trading houses, and merchant banks.2
Hong Kong was a British colony between 1842 and 1997 and the English language began to spread through education starting from the 1840s. However, it was not until 1911 when the first English-medium university, namely The University of Hong Kong, was established. English remained the sole official language in Hong Kong until 1974, when Cantonese also became an official language in Hong Kong.3
According to the Hong Kong SAR Population Census, in 1961, 31,824 Hong Kong residents used English as a usual language, which was 1.22% of the population. In 1966, this was 37,400, or 1.00% of the population and in 1971, 41,119 residents or 1.04% of the population. In 1991, 114,084 Hong Kong residents used English as their usual language, 2.2% of the population, with an additional 29.4% using it as another language, for a total of 31.6% of the population using English. In 1996, 184,308 residents of Hong Kong used English as their usual language, for 3.1% of the population; another 34.9% used it as another language, for a total of 38.15% of the population using English. In 2001, 203,598 residents used English as their usual language, which was 3.2% of the population, with a further 39.8% using it as another language, for a total of 43.0% of the population of Hong Kong using English. In 2006, 187,281 Hong Kong residents used English as their usual language, 2.8% of the population, with a further 41.9% using it as another language, for a total of 44.7% of Hong Kong’s population using English. In 2011, 238,288 Hong Kong residents, 3.5% of the population, used English as their usual language, with a further 42.6% of the population using it as another language, for a total of 46.1% of the population using English in 2011. In 2006, 300,417 Hong Kong residents used English as a usual language, which was 4.3% of the population, with a further 46.7% using it as another language, for a total of 48.6% of the population using English in 2016. In 2021, 330,782 Hong Kong residents used English as their usual language, 4.30% of the population, with a further 54.1% using English as another language, for a total of 58.7% of the population using English in Hong Kong in 2021.4 These numbers are shown in the figure below.
Subsequently, Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842 following the First Opium War.5 Under British rule, the English language became, and has continued to serve as, an official language and a medium of instruction in Hong Kong, as well as the channel of communication for business and other professional purposes.
|Vowel Inventory of HKE:|
1Schottenhammer, A. (2010). Trading networks in early modern Eastern Asia. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
2Tsang, S. (2004). A modern history of Hong Kong. London: I.B. Tauris.
3Bolton, K., Bacon‐Shone, J., & Luke, K. K. (2020). Hong Kong English. The Handbook of Asian Englishes, 449-478.
4Hong Kong Population Census. https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
5Joseph, J. E. (1996). English in Hong Kong: Emergence and decline. Current Issues in Language & Society, 3(2), 166-179.
6Pennington, M. C. (1998). The folly of language planning; Or, A brief history of the English language in Hong Kong. English Today, 14(2), 25-30.
7Hung, T. T. (2012). Hong Kong English. English in Southeast Asia: Features, policy and language in use, 113-133.
8Sung, C. C. M. (2015). Hong Kong English: Linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Language and Linguistics Compass, 9(6), 256-270
9Wong, M. (2017). Hong Kong English: Exploring lexicogrammar and discourse from a corpus-linguistic perspective. Springer.
10Setter, J., Wong, S. P. C., & Chan, H. S. B. (2010). Hong Kong English. Edinburgh University Press.
Portuguese settlers in Hong Kong primarily worked as bank clerks, accountants, and interpreters for firms like Jardine, Matheson and Co., and the Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation.1
Waves of immigration from Macau to Hong Kong occurred in the 1960s-1980s, as Hong Kong transformed into a prosperous finance centre. In the 1961 Hong Kong Population Census, 1,521,715 Hong Kong residents, of 48.62% of the population, had Canton, Macau or adjacent places as their place of origin; in 1966, this was 1,778,820, or 47.96% of the population. In 1971, 2,072,083 Hong Kong residents had Canton, Macau, and adjacent places as their place or origin, which was 52.63% of the population. In 1981, this was 2,455,749, 49.24% of the population.2
While English was taught in catholic schools in Macau in the 1800s, the 1980s saw a significant expansion of the role of English in Macau, due to modernization of Macau.1,3
While Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macau, English is a de facto official language due to its use in education and tourism.3
Hong Kong English and Macau English are quite similar, as both are primarily influenced by Cantonese. Similarly to Hong Kong English, Macau English has:
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Botha, W., & Moody, A. (2020). English in Macau. In B. Kingsley, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 529-546). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
4Moody, A. (2008). Macau English: Status, functions, and forms. English Today 95, 24(3), 3-15.
Bangladeshi English is spoken by Bengali/Bangla speakers from Bangladesh. There are also speakers of Bengali/Bangla in Bengal, Northwest India, who may have similar features to Bangladeshi English though they speaker a variety of Indian English. The term Bengali denotes the Bengali/Bangla people of Bangladesh and Northwest India.
In the 20th century, Bengalis immigrated to Hong Kong working as sailors. There were also a considerable number of Bengalis who entered Hong Kong by illegal means. The exact number of Bengalis was undocumented.1
Due to the lack of labor export-import agreement, Bengalis came to Hong Kong to serve as migrant workers with their tourist permits. Until 1997, the year of the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, Bengalis no longer required visas to enter Hong Kong, hence the significant increase in the number of Bengalis and the size of the Bengali-speaking population in Hong Kong.2
In 1981, the Hong Kong SAR Population Census registered 11,867 people in Hong Kong with a place of origin of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka, which was 0.23% of the population. In 1991, the Population Census recorded 14,329 nationals of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. This increased to 20,955 (0.30% of the population) in 1996. In 2001, the Census recorded 16,481 Indian nationals and a further 12,161 nationals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka (a total of 0.40% of the population). In 2006, 12,181 residents from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (0.20% of the population) and 17,782 from India (0.30% of the population) were recorded in the Population Census.3
There are about 3,700 Bangladeshis in Hong Kong.2,3
The British have been in the Indian subcontinent since the 16th century. The English language became more important as the British gained and kept control over India. In the early 19th century, India was almost entirely under British rule, bringing more British people to the subcontinent, including more missionaries, while many more Indians joined the British-Indian army. The government opted for an English-medium education system focused on the Indians that would later enter the Indian civil service. The secondary schools and first universities in India had English as the only language of instruction. Upper and higher middle classes saw English as an asset to have access to higher education in England and civil service in India. The language went through a process of nativization, and gradually emerged as an English language variety. The nativization process was not interrupted by the partition and independence of the British territory that took place in 1947, after which India and Pakistan rose as independent nations. In 1956, English was established as an official language by the constitution of Pakistan. The Pakistani province of East Bengal (East Pakistani) declared independence from Pakistan in 1971; it was renamed Bangladesh. The following year, Bengali (or Bangla) was adopted as the estate language by the new country’s constitution. In 1987, through the Bangla Language Implementation Act, the Bangladeshi government emphasized Bangla was the sole official language for government activities and courts of law. Since 1991 it has been a compulsory subject in school curriculum from Grade 1 to 12. In 1996, English language foundation course was made compulsory for undergraduate students. Bengali is spoken by 98% of the population. English is spoken by 18%.4,5,6,7,8,9
Bangladeshi English is in an early stage of indigenization, and it is mostly restricted to use in written communication. There seems to be no dictionaries of Bangladeshi English and no corpus of English that have included Bangladeshi English. The account of this variety's features is scarce. 7,10
1. Code-mixing/code-switching: Jatiya Party - Bangla 'jatiya' (national)
2. Double conjunctions: “Although there is some decline in the mortality of Cardiovascular Disease in economically developed countries, but it is predicted to remain as the leading cause of death and disease burden globally.”
3. Subject drop: “One of the organizers of Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. And acts as one of the chiefs of Bangladesh Liberation Front.”
4. Redundancy: “[Mr A] married [B] in 1979. Together, they are proud parents of two daughters.”
5. Count/non-count nouns: “Like any other researches these studies would not have been possible without the direct and indirect assistance of numerous individuals.”
6. Present simple replacing present perfect
1Datta, S. (2020). A study into the impact of anti-extradition bill protests on Bangladeshi immigration into Hong Kong. arXiv preprint arXiv:2009.09165.
2Ahsan Ullah, A. K. M. (2013). Bangladeshi migrant workers in Hong Kong: Adaptation strategies in an ethnically distant destination. International Migration, 51(2), 165-180.
3Hong Kong SAR Population Census. https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
4Bolton, K. & Bacon-Shone, J. (2020). The statistics of English across Asia. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 49-80). Wiley Blackwell.
5Mukherjee, J. (2020). The development of English language in India. In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes (167-180). Routledge.
6Hickey, R. (2014). A dictionary of varieties of English. Wiley Blackwell.
7Hamid, M. O. & Hasan, MD. H. (2020). Bangladeshi English. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 297-315). Wiley Blackwell.
8Gargesh, R. (2020). South Asian Englishes. In C. L. Nelson, Z. G. Proshina, & D. R. Davis (Eds.), The Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 107-134). Wiley Blackwell.
99Islam, M. N. & Hashim, A. (2019). Historical Evolution of English in Bangladesh. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 10(2), 247-255. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17507/jltr.1002.05
10Lambert, J. (2020). The lexicography o Asian Englishes. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 209-240). Wiley Blackwell.
The number of Indonesians living in Hong Kong has increased dramatically since 1991, when only 7,905 (0.0% of the population) Indonesian nationals were registered in Hong Kong, according to the HKSAR Population Census. This increased to 54,629 in 2001 (0.80% of the population); 110,576 (1.60% of the population) in 2006; 137,403, or 1.90% of the population, in 2011; 159,901 (2.2% of the population) in 2016; and 145,754 (2.00% of the population) in 2021.2
Indonesians are also classified as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, a term used for non-Chinese Hong Kong residents. In 2001, 50,494 Indonesian ethnic minorities were registered in Hong Kong, 14.75% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 343,950; this increased to 87,840, or 25.7% of Hong Kong’s 342,198 ethnic minority population in 2006. In 2011, this had increased to 133,377, or 29.5% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 451,183. In 2016, the number was 153,299, or 26.2% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 584,383. 2
The Dutch colonized Indonesia for over 300 years, with the first Dutch ships arriving in Indonesia in 1596. Indonesia gained independence in 1945.
The spread of the English language in Indonesia dates back to the Dutch colonial period (during the seventeenth century and before World War II). Indonesians began to learn English, which was the first foreign language in Indonesia, at school at both the junior and senior high school levels. The use and learning of English, as well as Dutch, was later prohibited during Japanese rule (lasting from 1042-1945) during WWII.3,4
Following Indonesia’s independence, the teaching and learning of English has resumed and extended to the kindergarten and primary school levels in particular regions. Indonesia is the only ASEAN (=Association of Southeast Asian Nations) country that has not made English language a compulsory subject in its primary education curriculum.3,5
Indonesian English is influenced by speakers’ first language (L1) Indonesian, also known as Bahasa Indonesia, and other regional languages including Kedang, Sundanese and Balinese.
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Low, E. L. (2019). English in Southeast Asia. The Handbook of World Englishes, 135-158.
4Mistar, J. (2005). Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in Indonesia.Teaching English to the world: History, curriculum, and practice, 71-80.
5Kirkpatrick, A. (2010). English as a lingua franca in ASEAN: A multilingual model (Vol. 1). Hong Kong University Press.
6Endarto, I. T. (2020). A corpus-based lexical analysis of Indonesian English as a new variety. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10(1), 95-106.
7Aziz, E. A. (2003). Indonesian English: what's del tuh?. TEFLIN Journal, 14(1), 140-148.
8Lauder, A. F. (2020). English in Indonesia. The Handbook of Asian Englishes, 605-627.
The first Indians known to have settled in Hong Kong were part of the British army, arriving in 1841 when the British took control of Hong Kong Island after the First Opium War.1
Sikh Indians, reputed to be brave and good fighters, were also recruited by the British to join the Hong Kong Police Force, which was established in 1841.1 The Hong Kong Police Force grew from 35 members to a force of 1,050 by 1906, with 411 Indians, 511 Chinese, and 128 Europeans.1 The number of Indian members of the police force declined after World War II, as India gained independence from Britain and there was an exodus of Indians from Hong Kong, and due to a high casualty rate of Indian policemen in Hong Kong.1
Indians also settled in Hong Kong to establish trade and other businesses, numbering 1,348 by 1898, in the 7,000s by the early 1900s, to 20,000 in the 1960s.1. One of the most well-known Indian families in Hong Kong is the Harilela family; Hari Harilela came to Hong Kong from Sindh in 1930 and founded a successful hotel group, Harilela Group.1. The Gidumal family is another prominent Indian family in Hong Kong; they set up successful home goods and trade businesses.1
One of Hong Kong’s most iconic modes of transport, The Star Ferry, was founded in 1888 by Dorabjee Naorojee Mithaiwala, a Parsee from India. The Star Ferry was originally named the Kowloon Ferry Company but changed to The Star Ferry Company in 1898. In addition to the Star Ferry, Dorabjee Naorojee also founded several hotels in Hong Kong, including the King Edward Hotel.2
The Star Ferry helped another Parsee Indian, Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody develop Kowloon. Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui is named after Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody. Sir Mody was born in Bombay and moved to Hong Kong in 1860 also contributed to the founding of the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and the Kowloon Cricket Club.3
The Ruttonjees were also an important family in Hong Kong’s development. Hormusjee Ruttonjee arrived in Hong Kong from India in 1886 and established the Hong Kong Brewery. The Ruttonjee family donated the Ruttonjee Tuberculosis Sanitorium to Hong Kong.2
Indians initially settled in the Tsim Sha Tsui and Jordan areas of Hong Kong.1 Indians have made a significant contribution to the economic success of Hong Kong through import/export trade, and transformation of Tsim Sha Tsui to a major tourist destination.1
According to the HKSAR Population Census, in 1971, the number of Hong Kong residents with India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Pakistan as place of origin was 8727, which was 2.21% of the population. This number was 11,876 (including Bangladesh) in 1981, or 0.23% of the population. In 1991, the HKSAR Population Census found that 14,329 members of the population were of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan nationality, which was 0.20% of the population. This number increased to 20,955 in 1996, 0.30% of the population of Hong Kong. In 2001, 16,481 Hong Kong residents were listed as having Indian nationality; this was 0.20% of the population. In 2006, 17,782 Hong Kong residents had Indian nationality; this was 0.30% of the population. In 2011, this number increased to 26,650, 0.40% of Hong Kong’s population, and to 28,777 (0.40% of the population) in 2016. In 2021, this increased to 32,796 (0.40% of the population).4
These numbers in all likelihood underestimate the number of speakers of Indian languages, including Hindi, in Hong Kong as not all Indian residents may have Indian nationality. The HKSAR Population Census began counting the number of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong in 2001; the term ‘ethnic minorities’ has been used to describe Hong Kong people from non-Chinese backgrounds or mixed ethnicities. In 2001, 18,543 of Hong Kong’s 343,950 ethnic minorities were listed as Indian; this was 5.4% of the ethnic minority population.4 In 2006, the number of ethnic minorities listed as Indian in the HKSAR Population Census was 20,444, of 6.0% of the ethnic minority population of 342,198. In 2011, this was 28,616 (6.3% of the total population of ethnic minorities of 451,183). IN 2016, it was 36,462, of 6.2% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 584,383.
While the Indian diaspora in Hong Kong has historically spoken and currently speak a range of languages, including Gujarati, Kutchi, Sindhi, Parsee, Marathi, Bengali, and English, among others, Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India and the Indian diaspora.
Indian English emerged due to trade and later colonization of India by the British. Following the discovery of a sea route in 1498, England well as France and Portugal, increased trade with India. The British set up the East Indian Company in 1600; as a result, English began being used on the Indian subcontinent. English began to be taught more widely in education in India in 1817 and in 1835, the English Education Act 1835 was enacted by the Council of India.5
In 1858, India was officially colonized by Great Britain and became known as the British Indian Empire or, less formally, British Raj. Throughout the colonization period (1858-1947), English spread throughout India; it also became the official language and lingua franca of the country.5
|KIT||ɪ > iː|
|DRESS||e > ɛ > ə|
|e > ɛ > ə||æ > ɛ|
|LOT||ɔ > ɒ > a|
|STRUT||ʌ > ə > ʊ|
|FOOT||ʊ > uː|
|CLOTH||ɔ > o > aː|
|NURSE||ɜː > ʌ > aː|
|FLEECE||iː > ɪ|
|FACE||ɜː > ʌ > aː|
|THOUGHT||ɔː > oː > aː|
|GOAT||oː > ɔː|
|CHOICE||ɔɪ > oɪ > oe|
|NEAR||ɪə > iːjə > ɪjəː|
|SQUARE||æ > eː > eə > ɛː|
|NORTH||ɔː > aː > ɒ|
|FORCE||ɔː > oː|
|CURE||ɪjoː > ɪjɔː > ɪjuː > ɪjuə|
|happY||ɪ > iː|
|horsES||ə > ɨ|
2Early Foreign Communities in Hong Kong. Past and Present: The Quarterly Newsletter for the Hong Kong Heritage Project. 2015(1).
3The Life & Times of Sir Hormusjee Naorojee Mody. A Zoroastrian Educational Institute. http://www.zoroastrian.org.uk/
4HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
5Krishnaswamy, N., & Krishnaswamy, L. (2006). The story of English in India. Foundation Books.
6Gargesh, R. (2008). Indian English: Phonology. Varieties of English, 4, 231-243.
7Lange, C. (2020). English in South Asia. In D., Schreier, Hundt, D., & E. W. Schneider. (Eds.). The Cambridge Handbook of World Englishes, pp.236-262. Cambridge University Press.
The Philippines was one of the first countries to send workers through the foreign domestic helper program beginning in the 1970s. These migrant workers were normally Filipino women who engaged in domestic work in Hong Kong.1 In 1981, the HKSAR Population Census registered 19,630 residents in Hong Kong that listed Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, or Brunei as their place or origin; this was 0.39% of the population in 1981.2 In 1991, there were 64,658 residents in Hong Kong with Filipino nationality (1.25% of the population). In 1996, the HK Population Census registered 120,730 residents of Filipino nationality, 1.90% of the population. In 2001, there were 143,662 residents with Filipino nationality in Hong Kong, 1.10% of the population. In 2006, the number of residents with Filipino nationality was 115,349, or 1.7% of the population of Hong Kong. In 2011, this increased to 135,081, or 1.9% of the population. By 2016, this number grew to 186,869, or 2.5% of Hong Kong’s population. In 2021, this increased to 203,359, or 2.7% of Hong Kong’s population.2
Filipinos also comprise the largest group within the ‘ethnic minority’ population of Hong Kong. The term ‘ethnic minority’ is used in reference to non-Chinese Hong Kong residents. In 2001, 142,556 (or 41.4%) of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities were classified as Filipino. In 2006, 112,453, or 32.9%, of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities were classified as Filipino. in 2011, 133,018, or 29.5%, of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities were Filipino; this increased to 184,081, or 31.5%, in 2016.2
Due to the increasing number of Filipino workers in Hong Kong, there has been an increasing number of speakers of Tagalog from 1991 to 2021. According to the HKSAR Population Census, in 1991, 5939 Hong Kong residents used Tagalog as their usual language, which was 0.1% of the population. An additional 1.0% used Tagalog as an additional language in 1991. In 1996, 13,395 Hong Kong residents, 0.2% of the population, used Tagalog as their usual language, with an additional 1.6% of the population using Tagalog as an additional language. In 2001, 12,101 Hong Kong residents spoke Tagalog as a usual language, 0.2% of the population. An additional 1.7% residents spoke Tagalog as an additional language. In 2006, 7046 residents spoke Tagalog as a usual language (0.1% of the population), with an additional 1.3% of the population speaking Tagalog as an additional language. In 2011, 16,460 residents spoke Tagalog as a usual language, which was 0.2% of the population; an additional 1.4% spoke Tagalog as another language. in 2016, 19,147 residents spoke Tagalog as their usual language (0.3% of the population), with an additional 2.3% of Hong Kong’s population speaking Tagalog as another language. In 2021, 0.4% of Hong Kong’s population spoke Tagalog as their usual language, with another 2.4% speaking it as another language.2 These numbers are shown in the figure below:
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Schneider, E. W. (2007). Postcolonial English: Varieties around the world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
4G. Tayao, M. L. (2012). Philippine English. In E.-L. Low & A. Hashim (Eds.), English in Southeast Asia: Features, policy and language in use (pp. 1047–1060). Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co.
Nepalese were brought to Hong Kong as part of the British army in 1841, when the British took control of Hong Kong Island after the First Opium War. The Nepalese soldiers formed a special unit called ‘Gurkhas’; Gurkhas had been under part of the British Army as far back as 1817, under the East Indian Company Army.2 Gurkhas have been highly valued by the British Army due to their fierceness, loyalty, and braveness.1
The first Gurkhas settled in military barracks in Jordan, Shek Kong, and Yuen Long, as well as in Wan Chai, and served in the British Army in Hong Kong until the 1997 handover. After 1997, some Gurkhas moved to the UK while others remained in Hong Kong or returned to Nepal.1
The Gurkha Brigade of the British Army came to Hong Kong in 1948. In 1984, the Gurkhas were granted the right of abode; all Nepalese born in Hong Kong before 1983 were also granted the right of abode.1
Most Nepalese currently residing in Hong Kong former Gurkhas or their descendants.1
According to the HKSAR Population-by Census, there were 12,181 Nepalese in Hong Kong in 2001 (0.20% of the population),15,845 in 2006 (0.20% of the population), 15,943 (0.20% of the population) in 2011; 22,679 in 2016 (0.3% of the population); and 26,779 (0.40% of the population) in 2021.2
Nepalese are also categorized as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Ethnic minority is a term that refers to non-Chinese Hong Kong residents. In 2001, Nepalese comprised 3.7% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities (12,564 out of 343,950); this increased to 4.7% (15,590 out of 342,198) in 2006, decreasing to 3.7% (16518 out of 451,183) in 2011. This increased to 4.4% in 2016 (25,472 out of 584,383 ethnic minorities).2
In the 17th century, the Malla kings, the ruling dynasty in the Kathmandu Valley from 1201 until 1779, used English as a lingua franca to do business with Tibet and Northeast India. Pratap Malla was a Malla king who reigned from 1641-1674; he was fluent in English. In 1628, the first English speaking missionary arrived in Nepal, followed by other missionaries in 1661.3 Around 1745, British Christian missionaries opened schools in the country, but 24 years later, after the smaller kingdoms were united by Gorkha King Prithvi Narayan, the British were expelled from Nepal.3
In 1847, the Rana oligarchy overthrew that dynasty. In 1850, the Prime Minister of Nepal, Prime Minister Rana, decided to provide a Western-style education, including English language, to his own children and close family members, bringing teachers from England and India to Nepal to teach English.3
To remodel the Nepalese army based on British practice, an agreement was established for the British to recruit Nepali soldiers. In 1851, the Gurkha Regiment was formed; this regiment served the British. After WWII, Gurkha soldiers and their families returned to Nepal. Some of the Gurkha had become officers because of their English language skills.3 The Gurhkas were the first ordinary people to speak English in Nepal; this eventually led to greater prestige for English in Nepal. In 1956, aided by the Americans, Nepal established its first university, Tribhuvan University. The establishment of the National Education System from 1970 introduced English from grade IV onwards. In 1990, as the New Education Policy defined English as an international language, English began to be taught all the way to BA level in the university. Today English has become a second language in Nepal, used more than any other language.3,4
2Hong Kong Population Census.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Eagle, S. (1999). The Language Situation in Nepal. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 20(4-5), 272-327.
4Gargesh, R. (2020). South Asian Englishes. In C. L. Nelson, Z. G. Proshina, & D. R. Davis (Eds.), The Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 107-134). Wiley Blackwell.
5Giri, R.A. (2015). The many faces of English in Nepal. Asian Englishes, 17:2, 94-115
6Pandey, S. B.(2020). English in Nepal. World Englishes. 39 (3), 500-513.
7Adhikari, M. (2017). English in Nepal: Phonology of Nepali English? NELTA ELT Forum August 5, 2017.
The Thais arrived in Hong Kong beginning in the 1960s, initially due to trade relations with Chiu Chow Chinese who had immigrated to Thailand. These trade relations eventually resulted in marriages between Thai women and Hong Kong men. Some Thai wives eventually opened restaurants in Kowloon City, which became a Thai enclave and known as ‘Little Bangkok’ due to the numerous Thai restaurants and markets in this area of Hong Kong.1
Today, many Thai restaurants and supermarkets still exist in Little Bangkok, primarily around the South Wall Road, Carpenter Road, Nga Tsin Wai Road, and Prince Edward Road West.2 Buddist monks from Makthumvanaram temple in Tai Wo collect alms on Southwall Road on weekdays.1
Several decades later, domestic helpers from Thailand began working in Hong Kong, and now make up the majority of Thais living in Hong Kong.1
In 1981, the HKSAR Population Census recorded 9,007 residents with place of origin of Thailand or Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. This was 0.18% of the population 1981. This percentage of the population has remained stable across time. In 1991, the Population Census recorded 11,787 Thai nationals living in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population; this increased to 15,993, 0.30% of the population, in 1996. There were 14,791 Thai nationals residing in Hong Kong in 2001, 0.20% of the population; this increased to 16,151 (0.20% of the population) in 2006. In 2011, there were 14,211 Thai nationals living in Hong Kong (0.20% of the population); in 2016, 11,493 Thai nationals were living in Hong Kong (0.20% of the population). In 2021, 13,838 Thai nationals were living in Hong Kong (0.20% of the population).
Thai residents are also categorized as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong; the term ethnic minority refers to non-Chinese Hong Kong residents. In 2001, Thais accounted for 4.2% (14,342) of Hong Kong’s 343,950 ethnic minorities. In 2006, Thais accounted for 3.5% (11,900) of Hong Kong’s 343,198 ethnic minorities. In 2011, Thais comprised 2.5% (11,213) of Hong Kong’s 451,183 ethnic minorities; in 2016, this decreased to 1.7% (10,215) of Hong Kong’s 584,383 ethnic minorities.
According to the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Hong Kong, 14,086 Thai nationals currently reside in Hong Kong.1
Education in English was primarily reserved for children of wealthier families who lived in Bangkok.3
During World War II, the Japanese occupied Thailand and prohibited the speaking and teaching of English. After the end of the war and Japanese occupation, the Cold War split the world. Thailand became more politically aligned with the USA, and further developed English teaching with the help of the Americans and the British. In 1960, English education was made mandatory by The National Education Commission; this lasted until 1999, when English ceased to be compulsory although English is a mandatory subject for the National University Entrance Examination.
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Pechapan-Hammond, S. (2020). English in Thailand. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 629-648). Wiley Blackwell.
4Fuchs, R. (2016). Speech Rhythm in Varieties of English: Evidence from Educated Indian English and British English. Springer.
5Low, E. L. (2020). English in Southeast Asia. In C. L. Nelson, Z. G. Proshina, & D. R. Davis (Eds.), The Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 135-158). Wiley Blackwell.
6Trakulkasemsuk, W. (2012). Thai English. In E. L. Low, & A. Hashim (Eds.), English in Southeast Asia: Features, Policy and Language in Use (pp. 101-112). John Benjamins Publishing Company.
After World War II, Koreans who had been living in China immigrated to Hong Kong. In 1949, the first Consulate of the Republic of Korea was established in Hong Kong; in 1994, the Korean International School was established.1
It is estimated that there are nearly 19,000 Koreans living in Hong Kong, mostly due to strong trade relations between Korea and Hong Kong2. There are over 1,600 Korean businesses operating in Hong Kong today, including 10 Korean banks.2
Koreans are classified as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong; ethnic minority refers to Hong Kong residents who are not of Chinese ethnicity. In 2001, the Hong Kong Population Census registered 5,263 Korean ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, 1.5% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 343,950. In 2006, this number was 4,812, or 1.4% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 342,198. In 2011, there were 5,209 Korean ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, 1.2% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 451,183. In 2016, this number was 6,309, 1.1% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 584,383.3
The first English speaking explorer to visit and publish an account of Korea was the Englishman, William R. Broughton, who visited Korean in the late 17th century. Korea was mostly closed to the Western countries, but in the 1880s, Westerners were able to enter Korea, live there and travel freely.4 In 1883 English began to be taught in Korea.
In 1896, The Independent was founded; this was the first English newspaper in Korea. Korea fell under Japanese occupation in 1910, becoming independent in 1945. After the Korean War, English became more important in South Korea due to trade and internationalization. The growing Korean middle class in the following decades saw English as an asset; the Asian Games 1986 and the Olympic Games in 1988 also played an important role in the development of English in Korea.5
2Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Hong Kong: http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/hk-en/wpge/m_1511/contents.do
3Hong Kong SAR Population Census.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
4Taizé, B. A., & Neff, R. (Eds.). (2016). Brief encounters: Early reports of Korea by Westerners. Seoul Selection.
5Lee, J. S. (2020). English in Korea. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 585-604). Wiley Blackwell.
6Nelson, C.L., & Kang, S. Y. (2015). Pronunciation and World Englishes. In M. Reed, & J. M. Levis (Eds.), The Handbook of English Pronunciation (pp. 320-329). Wiley Blackwell.
Hong Kong Island was part of China until it became colonized by the British in 1842, after the Anglo-Chinese War (or First Opium War). In 1860, the Qing Empire ceded Kowloon to the British; the New Territories were leased to Hong Kong for a period of 99 years from 1989. Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997.
A mass influx of migrants from the mainland of China into Hong Kong began in 1945, when the civil war between the Nationalists and the Communist started and continued to the eventual Communist takeover in 1949. It is estimated that some 1.28 million people arrived in Hong Kong between 1945 and 1949. While most of them were farmers, a minority were senior officials of the National Party as well as rich businessmen who fled to avoid political persecution. Then, from 1976 to 1981, about 400,000 mainland Chinese immigrants entered Hong Kong. Thus, the migration from the mainland China to Hong Kong never ceased all through the years.1
There is no precise record of the number of mainlanders in Hong Kong, but according to the Hong Kong population by-census in 2016, there were 2,272,293 people from the mainland of China, Macao and Taiwan living in Hong Kong.2
The early contact of Chinese language and English language was accompanied by the history of trading between Chinese and English speakers. The first contact between British traders and the Chinese occurred in 1637, when an expedition of four ships under the command of Captain John Weddell anchored in Macao and Guangzhou.3 During this period of English contact, Canton Jargon was developed by Chinese to facilitate their communication with Anglophone merchants.4
Up till 1842, the Treaty of Nanjing opened five ports to foreign residence and trade. Thereafter, English contact was extended. Gradually, Canton Jargon was expanded into Chinese Pidgin English.5
During the period of 1860s and 1949, missionary schools and colleges asserted further influence in China and Chinese English speakers were stratified socially, particularly in Shanghai. English enjoyed a prestige status in Shanghai.
English was still accorded great importance in China after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and English language teaching was officially established after 1976.6
Since the late 1970s, a number of Chinese scholars have been looking into the regional features of English in China and distinguishing ‘Chinglish’ with ‘Sinicized English’, ‘Chinese-coloured English’, ‘China English’ or ‘Chinese English’. Ge Chuangui first argued for this distinction and referred to those English expressions that were uniquely Chinese as China English in contrast with Chinglish.7
- Replacement of /s/ with/θ/
- Vocalized /l/
- Absence of reduced vowels
- Substitution of /z/ or /d/ for /ð/
- Use of /x/ for /h/
- /ɹ/ for /ʒ/
- /l/ pronounced as /n/
- Adding an extra vowel after a final plosive and before the next word
- Heavy nasalization of vowels preceding a final nasal consonant
- Substitution of short vowels for diphthongs (e.g., stone /stəʊn/ > [ɒ])Lexical features:7
- Loan words from Cantonese, e.g., bok choy, chow mein, dimsum, kwai-lo
- loan words from Putonghua, e.g., fengshui, pipa, guanxi, Putonghua
- Loan translations, e.g., barefoot doctor, the Cultural Revolution
1Wong, S. (2007). Exploring ‘unseen’ social capital in community participation: Everyday lives of poor mainland Chinese migrants in Hong Kong. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Zhang, Tingyu (1974). The history of Ming. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju.
4Williams, Wells Samuel (1836). Jargon spoken at Canton. Chinese Repository, 4: 428-435.
5Hall, Robert A. (1944). Chinese pidgin English grammar and texts. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 64: 95-113.
6Lam, Agnes (2005). Language education in China: Policy and experience from 1949. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
7Xu, Z. M. (2010). Chinese English: a future power? In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 282–298). Taylor & Francis Group.
The first settlers from Pakistan to Hong Kong were brought to Hong Kong in the British Army in 1841 as well as the Hong Kong Police Force starting in 1844. They were recruited from the Punjab region of what was then part of India (after partition in 1947, Punjab became part of Pakistan).1
Many settlers from Punjab also worked as traders, merchants, and manufacturing.1 There was also an influx of Pakistanis to Hong Kong from the 1990s.1
In 1971, the Hong Kong SAR Population Census registered 5,278 people with a place of origin of India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) or Pakistan, which was 2.21% of the population.2 In 1981, the Hong Kong SAR Population Census registered 11,867 people in Hong Kong with a place of origin of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka, which was 0.23% of the population. In 1991, the Population Census recorded 14,329 nationals of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. This increased to 20,955 (0.30% of the population) in 1996. In 2001, the Census recorded 12,161 nationals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka (a total of 0.40% of the population). In 2006, 12,181 residents from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (0.20% of the population) were recorded in the Population Census.2 The 2011 census recorded 17,253 Pakistani nationals in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2016,15,234 Pakistani nationals were resident in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2021, Hong Kong registered 18,178 Pakistani nationals in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population.2
Hong Kong residents from Pakistan are consider ethnic minorities in Hong Kong; ethnic minority is a term used to refer to non-Chinese residents. In 2006, there were 11,111 Pakistani ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, 4.7% of Hong Kong’s 342,198 ethnic minority population. In 2011, this was 18,042, or 4.0% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 451,183. In 2016, this was 18, 094, or 3.1% of Hong Kong’s 584,383 ethnic minority population.2
|Lexical item||PakE||RP (based on The Oxford Dictionary)|
|FOOT||ʊ ~ u:||ʊ|
|BATH||ɑ: ~ æ||ɑ:|
|CLOTH||ɔ ~ ɔ: ~ o:||ɔ|
|FACE||e: ~ eɪ||eɪ|
|GOAT||o: ~ əʊ ~ ʊ||əʊ|
|GOAL||o: ~ əʊ||əʊ|
|NEAR||ɪə ~ eə||ɪə|
|SQUARE||eə ~ əɪ ~ ɑɪ||eə|
|CURE||jʊə ~ jeɔ: ~ eɔ:||jʊə:|
2HKSAR Population Census: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
3Mahboob, A. & Ahmar, N. H. (2004). Pakistani English: phonology. In B. Kortmann, E. W. Schneider, K. Burridge, R. Mesthrie, & C. Upton (Eds.), A Handbook of Varieties of English (pp. 1003–1016). Mouton de Gruyter.
4Khan, H. I. (2012). The Evolution of Pakistani English (PakE) as a Legitimate Variety of English. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 1 (5), 90-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.5p.90
5Gargesh, R. & Pingali Sailaja, P. (2014). South Asia. In M. Filppula, J. Klemola, & D. Sharma (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 425-447). Oxford University Press.
6Rahman, T. (2020). Pakistani English. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 279-296). Wiley Blackwell.
7Gargesh, R. (2020). South Asian Englishes. In C. L. Nelson, Z. G. Proshina, & D. R. Davis (Eds.), The Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 107-134). Wiley Blackwell.
The first visit to Hong Kong by Japanese nationals occurred in 1841, when crewmen from the wrecked Japanese ship Kannon Maru were transported from Hong Kong to Macau.1 In 1845, 2 Japanese fishermen settled in Hong Kong, becoming the first Japanese nationals to do so.1
In 1874, the first Japanese consulate was founded by one of original two settlers, who had become a wealthy tailor in Hong Kong.1
Settlement by Japanese nationals increased steadily in Hong Kong, and numbered in the thousands by the 1930s, becoming one of the largest foreign communities in Hong Kong.1 They settled primarily in the mid-levels district of Central and later in Wan Chai, and worked in the import-export trade and local businesses catering for Japanese residents.1. The 1931 Hong Kong Population Census registered 2,240 nationals residing in Hong Kong.4
During World War II, the number of Japanese nationals in Hong Kong decreased significantly to 393.1 The numbers increased after World War II ended, with approximately 7,802 residents of Japanese nationality in 1981 and 23,480 in 1999.2 The majority of Japanese residents work in private companies.2 According to the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong, there were 25,004 Japanese nationals living in Hong Kong in 2017.3
According to the HKSAR Population Census, there were 10,850 Japanese nationals in Hong Kong in 1991, 0.20% of the population. In 1996, the number of Japanese nationals in Hong Kong rose to 19.010, or 0.30% of the population. In 2001,14,715 Japanese residents lived in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2006, 13,887 Japanese nationals lived in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population. In 2011, 13,858 Japanese nationals were registered in Hong Kong, 0.20% of the population; in 2016, this was 10,678, or 0.1% of the population. The number of Japanese nationals registered in Hong Kong was 11,486 in 2021, 0.20% of the population.4
Japanese residents are also classified as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong; the term ethnic minority refers to a Hong Kong resident of non-Chinese ethnicity. In 2001, 14,180 Hong Kong had 14,342 Japanese ethnic minorities, 4.1% of the population of 343,950 ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. In 2006, this number was 13,189, 3.9% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 342,198. In 2011, this number was 12,580, or 2.8% of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority population of 451,183 and in 2016, 9,976, or 1.7% of Hong Kong’s 584,383 ethnic minority population.4
According to the HKSAR Population Census, 8,895 Hong Kong residents, 0.2% of the population spoke Japanese as their usual language in 1991, with an additional 0.8% speaking it as another language. In 1996, 16,072 Hong Kong residents spoke Japanese as their usual language, which was 0.30% of the population; an additional 1.0% of the population spoke it as another language. In 2001,12,050 Hong Kong residents spoke Japanese as their usual language, 0.2% of the population, with a further 1.2% speaking Japanese as another language. In 2006, 11,055 people in Hong Kong used Japanese as their usual language, which was 0.2% of the population; a further 1.1% of the population used it as another language. In 2011, 10,970 people used Japanese as their usual language, 0.20% of the population, with a further 1.4% using it as another language. In 2016, this decreased to 8,106, or 0.1% of the population, using Japanese as their usual language, and 1.7% of the population using it as another language.4
Due to the period of self-isolation in the 1600s, Japan had had very limited contact with other countries including Great Britain. Later, the learning of English, as well as other foreign languages, became further and even officially discouraged during World War II. It was until the seven-year American Occupation when English was re-incorporated as a school subject.5
During the 1980s, Nakasone Administration’s program of Kokusaika led to further educational reforms for English language teaching and learning. Despite the changes, the status and perception of English remains much lower and more negative than other Asian countries.5
2Sakai, C. (1991). The Japanese community in Hong Kong in the 1990s: The diversity of strategies and intentions. In R. Goodman, C. Peach, A. Takenaka, and P. White (Eds.), Global Japan: The Experience of Japan's New Immigrant and Overseas Communities (Pp. 131-146). London: Routledge Curzon.
3Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong: https://www.hk.emb-japan.go.jp/jp/docs/houjin_statistics_data.pdf
4Hong Kong SAR Population Census.https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/en/
5Edwards, A., & Seargeant, P. (2017). Beyond English as a second or foreign language: Local uses and the cultural politics of identification. In D. Schreier, M. Hundt, & E. Schneider, (Eds.) Cambridge Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 339-359). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6Ohata, K. (2004). Phonological Differences between Japanese and English: Several Potentially Problematic. Language Learning, 22, 29-41.
7Stanlaw, J. (2004). Japanese English: Language and culture contact (Vol. 1). Hong Kong University Press.
8Sounders, N. J. (1987). Morphophonemic variation in clusters in Japanese English. Language Learning, 37(2), 247-272.
9Yamaguchi, T. (2018). Lexicogrammatical Features in Japanese English: A Study of Five Speakers. Research in Language, 16(3), 341-355.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, English traders entered Vietnam; this led to some teaching of the English language. French was the main foreign language as Vietnam was colonized by the French from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. During the Vietnam War (1955–1975), English spread in South Vietnam. In Hanoi, two colleges offered English; it became a school subject in the 1970s. After the war, the reunification of Vietnam under a communist regime led to a trade embargo imposed by the US, closer relationship with the USSR and the emergence of Russian as the primary foreign language for nearly 15 years.3,4
In 1994, the US embargo was lifted, and Vietnam joined international organizations such as ASEAN (1995), APEC (1998), and WTO (2006). Tourism to Vietnam and foreign investment increased during this period; the teaching and use of the Russian language declined while English became more important. By the mid-1980s, English had become the main foreign language taught in Vietnam. Around 5% of of the Vietnamese people speak English to a certain degree. English is a compulsory subject in the Vietnamese education system from grade 3 (primary school) to grade 12 (high school)3,4
2James, S. (2017). Vietnamese Trajectories: Negotiating Refuge and Belonging Through Forced Migrations. Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC) Working Paper Series No. 192. 1-27.
3Sundkvist, P. & Nguyen, X. N. C. M. (2020). English in Vietnam. In K. Bolton, W. Botha, & A. Kirkpatrick (Eds.), The Handbook of Asian Englishes (pp. 683-703). Wiley Blackwell.
4Low, E. L. (2020). English in Southeast Asia. In C. L. Nelson, Z. G. Proshina, & D. R. Davis (Eds.), The Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 135-158). Wiley Blackwell.