Hong Kong English : linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Language & Linguistics Compass

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Hong Kong English (HKE) has been the subject of a growing body of research over the last few decades. This article presents an overview of research into HKE from both linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. The first section reviews the linguistic features of HKE at phonological, grammatical and lexical levels as documented in the literature. In the second section of the article, the development of HKE as a 'new' variety of English is discussed from a sociolinguistic viewpoint, with a view to addressing the question of in which phase HKE is currently situated according to Schneider's (2007) Dynamic Model of evolution for New Englishes. A review of the literature suggests that HKE displays a number of phonological, grammatical and lexical features which makes HKE distinguishable from other varieties of English, with the majority of these features attributable to the influence of Cantonese, the first language of the majority of HKE speakers. With reference to Schneider's model, the article suggests that HKE can be situated in phase 3 and is considered an 'emergent' variety with its norms still in the process of developing. While there are signs of increasing awareness of HKE as a distinct variety in the local community, ambivalent attitudes towards the acceptability of HKE as the linguistic norm still exist. It remains to be seen whether HKE will eventually reach phase 4 and become an autonomous variety of English in the near future. This review ends by suggesting several further research directions with respect to the study of HKE.



Print ISSN


Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Sung, C. C. M. (2015). Hong Kong English: Linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Language & Linguistics Compass, 9(6), 256-270. doi: 10.1111/lnc3.12142