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‘Linguistic schizophrenia’ in Hong Kong: Hong Kong English comes of age

  • Julie M. Groves

In the case of the status of English in Hong Kong, most ‘new Englishes’ classification schemes have been either controversial or inconclusive. Dynamic models seem to be more promising, and these predict two things. First, a trend of ‘linguistic schizophrenia’, where people are exonormative in ideal – holding to the ideals of native speaker English – but endonormative in practice – in actual fact, speaking their own local variety. Second, the future ongoing development and eventual acceptance of the new variety. This article aims to shed more light on some of the complexities surrounding the issue of the status of English in Hong Kong. It undertakes an analysis of the attitudes of local English speakers towards the existence and nature of their own variety, perceptions of their own linguistic behaviour, and attitudes towards norms. The significance of the findings is evaluated in the light of dynamic models postulated by Kachru (1983) and Schneider (2003, 2007). The Hong Kong data present a classic case of Kachru's ‘linguistic schizophrenia’, and confirm the placement of Hong Kong English at the beginning of Schneider's Phase 3 of nativization. The future possibilities for the variety are also discussed.

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