Being a ‘purist’ in Hong Kong : to use or not to use mixed code

Chit Cheung SUNG, Lancaster University

Copyright © 2010 The editors of Changing English.

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


This paper reports on my first‐hand experiences of being a ‘purist’ in Hong Kong, during which time I was not allowed to use mixed code, a common discursive practice among Hongkongers in Hong Kong. I shall discuss the difficulties in using ‘pure’ English and ‘pure’ Chinese in my daily life, as well as exploring the problems I encountered when I used ‘pure’ English in teaching English to a small group of ESL students at a primary school in Hong Kong. I argue that mixed code is very much characteristic of everyday language use by most Hongkongers and represents an important marker of their ethno‐linguistic identity. In relation to language teaching, I suggest that mixed code may be usefully adopted in teaching English in Hong Kong, rather than being shunned at all costs.