Hong Kong English

Hong Kong English is the variety of English spoken as a second language by 187,281 people (quoted from the latest population by-census in 2006) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong is basically a monoethnic society with over 95 percent of its total population being Chinese. Cantonese is spoken as a first language and has long been viewed as the language of solidarity and community ties. However, the use of English is increasingly common in certain socially conditioned contexts from the 1980s and 1990s onwards. There are a large number of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong, who speak English with their employers, which makes it necessary to use English in the home. In fact, the 2006 By-Census shows that the percentage of the population claiming to speak English as either their usual language or as an additional language rose from 38.1% in 1996, to 43% in 2001, to 44.7% in 2006. Now that English is being increasingly put in contact with the languages of the indigenous populations in domestic environments, it appears true enough to suggest that Hong Kong English is a variety with its own norms and its own local speech community.

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