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Old 05-29-2013, 11:57 PM
 
Location: Striving for Avalon
1,424 posts, read 2,095,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermosaa View Post
Well it used to be British colony like Singapore right ?
True, but Hong Kong is a definite blending of Chinese (traditional culture/heritage, food, language) and British (legal system, liberal economics, ability to queue). The old lion/dragon flag of colonial Hong Kong is a perfect symbol.

Singapore much more heavily tended towards British influence. Some 1/3 of the population is foreign born, and its ethnic majority, Chinese, was imported over the last few centuries. It developed a very independent culture, much as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand developed their own cultures (not a perfect analogy, but Singapore is very unique).


As per the main topic though, English ability was very low in HK, I found. English as a de jure official language seems like more of a formality more useful/relevant to tourists and foreign businesspersons. I found English ability concentrated to 4 and 5* hotels (especially in Central, Admirality, and TST for obvious reasons), high end boutiques in TST and Central, and restaurants.

Without basic Cantonese, one would spend a fortune over a long period of time.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:32 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,954 posts, read 36,230,096 times
Reputation: 9493
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomadwood86 View Post
from what i've experienced, the vast majority of ppl in HK were never able to speak English to begin with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ag77845 View Post
When you visit Hong Kong, you should realize that you are in China where Chinese is the official language.
From 1883 to 1974, English was the ONLY official language. Since 1974, it's been English and Cantonese.

I think both of you are arguing that English was never there, or shouldn't be there? Not sure your arguments. But 'English as an Official Language of Hong Kong' is the 'elephant in the room' you'll have to address to argue your points through.

Last edited by Tiger Beer; 05-30-2013 at 12:45 AM..
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:22 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,492,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amelorn View Post
True, but Hong Kong is a definite blending of Chinese (traditional culture/heritage, food, language) and British (legal system, liberal economics, ability to queue). The old lion/dragon flag of colonial Hong Kong is a perfect symbol.

Singapore much more heavily tended towards British influence. Some 1/3 of the population is foreign born, and its ethnic majority, Chinese, was imported over the last few centuries. It developed a very independent culture, much as the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand developed their own cultures (not a perfect analogy, but Singapore is very unique).


As per the main topic though, English ability was very low in HK, I found. English as a de jure official language seems like more of a formality more useful/relevant to tourists and foreign businesspersons. I found English ability concentrated to 4 and 5* hotels (especially in Central, Admirality, and TST for obvious reasons), high end boutiques in TST and Central, and restaurants.

Without basic Cantonese, one would spend a fortune over a long period of time.
English ability in HK has dropped, too, but Cantonese was the lingua franca for the majority of Hong Kongers. I have no idea how many can speak it legibly as a second language, let alone fluently though. Anyone hazard a guess? From my visit in 2006, it seemed actually the majority couldn't hold a conversation.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:28 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,954 posts, read 36,230,096 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
English ability in HK has dropped, too, but Cantonese was the lingua franca for the majority of Hong Kongers. I have no idea how many can speak it legibly as a second language, let alone fluently though. Anyone hazard a guess? From my visit in 2006, it seemed actually the majority couldn't hold a conversation.
In the late 1990s, was when the massive diaspora fled to cities like Vancouver, London, etc., just before the change-over.

I don't know what immigration laws were like in Canada in the 1990s, but generally speaking, you have to be very well-educated and a high English profiency, otherwise you simply aren't getting in.

While I'm not saying that everyone who spoke English left HK, I wouldn't be surprised if a noticeable dent of them did exactly that.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:35 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,492,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
In the late 1990s, was when the massive diaspora fled to cities like Vancouver, London, etc., just before the change-over.

I don't know what immigration laws were like in Canada in the 1990s, but generally speaking, you have to be very well-educated and a high English profiency, otherwise you simply aren't getting in.

While I'm not saying that everyone who spoke English left HK, I wouldn't be surprised if a noticeable dent of them did exactly that.
Quite a few Cantonese here don't speak that great English, same with Vietnamese, but of course they can converse.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Texas
843 posts, read 1,380,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
From 1883 to 1974, English was the ONLY official language. Since 1974, it's been English and Cantonese.

I think both of you are arguing that English was never there, or shouldn't be there? Not sure your arguments. But 'English as an Official Language of Hong Kong' is the 'elephant in the room' you'll have to address to argue your points through.
Not many Chinese in Hong Kong spoke fluent English between 1883 and 1974, only British people and well educated local people were proficient in English. English was for ruling elites only.

If most Hong Kong residents spoke good English like Americans before 1974, their offsprings wouldn't "lose" English proficiency within a few decades. By the way, Americans speak perfect English but the U.S has no official language.
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Old 05-30-2013, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Texas
843 posts, read 1,380,244 times
Reputation: 491
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermosaa View Post
Well it used to be British colony like Singapore right ?
Yes, but Hong Kong residents are Chinese. The native language there is Chinese(Cantonsese).

Singapore doesn't have its own culture and language, it's a country primarily made up of Chinese, Malaysians and Indians. Since they don't have their own culture and language, they are more than willing to adopt English as their primary language.

Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong has soul and heart. Singapore is no more than an efficient machine with no character.
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:59 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,492,106 times
Reputation: 11862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ag77845 View Post
Yes, but Hong Kong residents are Chinese. The native language there is Chinese(Cantonsese).

Singapore doesn't have its own culture and language, it's a country primarily made up of Chinese, Malaysians and Indians. Since they don't have their own culture and language, they are more than willing to adopt English as their primary language.

Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong has soul and heart. Singapore is no more than an efficient machine with no character.
Who said Singapore had no culture? Well I'd say it's more like Malaysian culture. Malaysian food is unique to Malaysia. There's the Baba/Nyonya culture also found in Singapore. Singaporean culture is as real as American culture. HK is much a product of colonialism as Singapore. Before the British came it was a tiny fishing village.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:38 AM
 
Location: NYC
90 posts, read 177,972 times
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Singapore is a hodgepodge of various ethnic groups with a Chinese majority. Hong Kong is predominantly Chinese. English therefore is much more useful as the official language of Singapore than Hong Kong. Most people could speak Cantonese in Hong Kong anyway so there is much less incentive to learn a new language.

Anyway as for the topic people in Hong Kong wasn't much better at speaking English prior to the handover than now.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Czech Republic
2,384 posts, read 5,862,101 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ag77845 View Post
Yes, but Hong Kong residents are Chinese. The native language there is Chinese(Cantonsese).

Singapore doesn't have its own culture and language, it's a country primarily made up of Chinese, Malaysians and Indians. Since they don't have their own culture and language, they are more than willing to adopt English as their primary language.

Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong has soul and heart. Singapore is no more than an efficient machine with no character.
Singapore used to belong to Malaysia so they already have the Malaysian culture before it became the Singapore that we know now. Plus, it is blended with Chinese and Indian culture. I think being blended with different cultures gives it more character.
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