Sociolinguistics Chapter 5 National Languages and Language Planning
National and official languages Planning for a national official language The linguist’s role in language planning
A national language is the language of a political, cultural and social unit. It is used to identify the nation and unite the people of the nation. Example 1 Guaran í in Paraguay Exercise 1
An official language is simply a language which may be used for government business. Its function is primarily characterised by usefulness rather than symbolic sense.
Example 2 Bislama in Vanuatu
Official status and minority languages
English often shares official status with an indigenous language: Malay in Malaysia Swahili in Tanzania Example 3
What price a national language?
Many countries regarded the development of a single national language as a way of symbolising the unity of a nation.
Planning for a National Official Language
Selection Codification Elaboration Acceptance
Language Planning in Different Countries
Lingua franca as a national official language e.g. Tanzania Exercise 4 A “H” and a new standard form based on “Ls” as two competing official languages e.g. Norway Exercise 7 Several national languages and official languages e.g. India
The linguist’s role in language planning
Codification of orthography Developing vocabulary Acceptance Acquisition planning Exercise 9
Language Planning in Hong Kong
Historical and political development Economic development The impact of historical, political, and economic development on the language situation in Hong Kong Ordinances on official languages in Hong Kong Definition problems The national language Language policy
Historical and Political Development
1840-1842 First Opium War 1856-1858 Second Opium War 1898 The New Territories and the outlying islands were leased to Britain for 99 years 1997 China resumed sovereignty in Hong Kong
Fishing port 1945-1950s Entrepôt 1960s-1970s Manufacturing hub 1980s-present International financial centre
Impact on the language situation
The existence of English alongside Chinese, even after China resumed sovereignty in Hong Kong
Ordinances on official languages
1. The Official Languages Ordinance (1974) 2. The Official Languages Ordinance amendment (1987) 3. The Basic Law (1997)
The Official Languages Ordinance (1974)
The official languages possess equal status and, subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, enjoy equality of use for the purposes of communication between the Government or any public officer and members of the public and for court proceedings.
(Chapter 5, Section 3)
The Basic Law (1997)
In addition to the Chinese language, English may also be used as an official by the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
(Chapter 1 Article 9)
The variant(s) of spoken and written Chinese are not defined in the legal documents.
Chinese in Hong Kong
Modern Standard Chinese Written Modern Standard Chinese Cantonese Written Cantonese Putonghua Spoken Cantonese
Modern Standard Chinese
Putonghua PU-TONG 普通 common HUA 話 language
The National Language
The concept of ‘national language’ was vague to Hong Kong people during the colonial period.
In the post-colonial period, the Hong Kong government starts to promote the national language – Putonghua.
Official Languages Chinese English Putonghua Cantonese English
All children studying at local government aided schools learn both Chinese and English from Primary 1 for 12 years through the end of senior secondary education.
Proportion of the population able to speak English as another language
1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
29.4% 34.9% 39.8% 41.9% 42.6% Source: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Government
Proportion of the population able to speak Putonghua as another language
1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
16.9% 24.2% 33.3% 39.2% 46.5% Source: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Government