|Hong Kong as a Cantonese speaking city|
|Written by Nick Westra|
|Tuesday, 05 June 2007|
Page 1 of 3
While Cantonese, English, and Mandarin all compete for space in Hong Kong, it is Cantonese that most often wins.
Cantonese is the dominant language in Hong Kong
Mandarin may be gaining attention in Hong Kong society, but the Hong Kong government has continued to recognize Cantonese as the official language since "the handover."
The government has stipulated that English and Mandarin must also be incorporated into city affairs - education, public announcements, legal matters - under the "biliterate and trilingual policy", but in terms of entertainment and media, however, it is clear that Cantonese is the city's de facto language. Canto-Pop rules the airwaves and Cantonese movies often rival Hollywood productions in cinemas.
Jordan, 24, who works at a marketing firm acknowledges that Mandarin is an important language in Hong Kong, but said that he does not need to speak it often.
"All of my friends and I speak Cantonese with one another, and I don't
really speak it at work either (works at a Hong Kong marketing firm). I
can speak some Mandarin if I have to, but I don't think I really need
to learn anymore," he said.
Cantonese is the language of the media
The media in Hong Kong is heavily oriented toward Cantonese. While English TV programs on channels like TVB Pearl and ATV World have secured stable following, it is the Cantonese programs on TVB Jade and ATV Home that are far more popular. An estimated 69% of Hong Kongers watch TVB Jade as opposed to just 6% for TVB Pearl. Among newspapers , there are just two daily English papers compared to eleven Chinese ones.
Many popular Hong Kong celebrities have also publicly expressed their discomfort and frustration in trying to learn Mandarin.
A revealing article in the Shanghai Daily News notes that famed Hong Kong actor, Tony Leung, had tremendous difficulty performing in Ang Lee's new movie "Lust, Caution" because the script was entirely in Mandarin.
Incidentally, Leung has just announced that he is renewing his role in the Mandarin language war epic "The Battle of Red Cliff," a project he earlier dropped out of because he did not feel capable of acting in Mandarin.
Chow Yun Fat noted that he wanted to perform a duet with Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou "If Jay does not mind my lousy Mandarin."
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 June 2007 )|
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