Eil 1010 Essay

1907 words - 8 pages

English is now the most widespread language in the world. It is no longer the property of the so-called inner-circle countries, such as the United States and United Kingdom. There has been a significant increase of the number of English speakers living in different parts of the world, especially in countries that do not claim English as their mother tongue. Thus, the background of today’s English speakers varies. As each group of English speakers speak in their own way, communication among different groups of today’s English speakers becomes complex.
While investigating how language, identity, and worldview interrelate with one another, it is impossible to separate them from culture. ...view middle of the document...

“Knowledge of English distinguishes Hong Kongers from their counterparts in the PRC… [allowing them to] maintain a separate identity from the motherland” (Chan, 2002). Unlike the PRC, English is not merely a foreign language in Hong Kong. It is one of the country’s official languages and also a language for communication in the public sphere, including school and workplace. Therefore, English gives Hong Kong residents more than simply a Chinese identity. The identity of post-colonial Hong Kongers is intertwined in Chinese and British identity.
As a locally born and bred Hong Konger, I grew up when the policy of changing the medium of instruction from English to Chinese in the junior level of government-subsidized secondary schools in post-handover Hong Kong was enforced. I was a primary school student at that time, and I witnessed as some students’ parents cried as news reporters interviewed them. The parents thought that the policy would ruin their children’s future. My own parents reminded me that those schools were no longer our target, and they started to collect information about private or non-government-subsidized schools for me to attend. This reaction from many parents reflects the common idea that English proficiency is crucial for children’s further study and career. Thus, language does not merely affect one’s identity but also one’s worldview.
In addition, I find the interrelation among language, identity, and worldview most noticeable when I am studying abroad. My fluency in Cantonese, English, and Mandarin is a key linguistic feature of my identity as a Hong Konger. Those who were born and raised in colonial Hong Kong, like my parents, are likely to identify themselves as bilingual Hong Kongers, instead of Chinese. The practice of learning English for them was essential, and they felt they had no choice. Proficiency of British English is a capital that makes them proud of their identity. However, for people of my generation who were born in and spent part of the childhood in colonial Hong Kong, a bilingual identity is not as valuable as it was previously, and we are likely to identify ourselves as multilingual. More importantly, proficiency in British English seems insufficient for multicultural communications for us. As the identity of Hong Kongers changes with different generations, the worldview of English changes accordingly. Although British English is still dominant in textbooks and government publications, like most members of the post-colonial generation, I am willing to learn other varieties of English. For example, some of my friends intended to use American English, instead of British English, in their academic work since they started to use American English software such as Microsoft Word. However, changing from one variety of English to another requires more than merely changing spelling or vocabulary. One teacher reminded us that there is a series of cultural differences in how British people use their language and...

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