Contextual variation and Hong Kong English

Jim Y. H. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the decisive factors in Schneider's innovative Dynamic Model for the transition from phase 3 (nativisation) to phase 4 (endonormative stabilisation) for the case of Hong Kong English (HKE) is the parameter of local acceptance. This paper examines the attitudes of young professionals towards native vis-à-vis non-native English accents in a number of English-speaking contexts in Hong Kong by means of the verbal-guise technique, focus group discussions and a written task. The findings suggest that many of the participants have the ability to distinguish native speakers’ from non-native speakers’ accents. Although an Anglophone-centric attitude is still found to be prominent in high-stakes English-using situations, there seems to be a tendency that the less formal and more interactive the communication context, the fewer reservations the participants have about non-native accents. The correlation analysis indicates a lack of association between the participants’ perceived intelligibility and their preferred accents in nearly all of the designated contexts for the case of HKE and, thus, the paper offers explanations based on the tension between English pronunciation as economic capital and identity carrier in local people's perception. It concludes by discussing the implications of this contextual variation in pronunciation acceptance for future attitudinal studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-74
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number1
Early online date21 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


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