Sociolinguistics Chapter 5 National Languages and Language Planning

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  • Sociolinguistics

    Chapter 5National Languages and Language Planning

  • Learning ObjectivesNational and official languagesPlanning for a national official languageThe linguists role in language planning

  • National LanguageA national language is the language of a political, cultural and social unit. It is used to identify the nation and unite the people of the nation.

    Example 1Guaran in Paraguay

    Exercise 1

  • Official Language An official language is simply a language which may be used for government business. Its function is primarily characterised by usefulness rather than symbolic sense.

    Example 2Bislama in Vanuatu

  • Official status and minority languagesEnglish often shares official status with an indigenous language:

    Malay in MalaysiaSwahili in TanzaniaExample 3

  • What price a national language?Many countries regarded the development of a single national language as a way of symbolising the unity of a nation.

  • Planning for a National Official LanguageSelectionCodificationElaborationAcceptance

  • Language Planning in Different CountriesLingua franca as a national official language e.g. TanzaniaExercise 4A H and a new standard form based on Ls as two competing official languagese.g. NorwayExercise 7Several national languages and official languagese.g. India

  • The linguists role in language planningCodification of orthographyDeveloping vocabularyAcceptanceAcquisition planning

    Exercise 9

  • Language Planning in Hong KongHistorical and political developmentEconomic developmentThe impact of historical, political, and economic development on the language situation in Hong KongOrdinances on official languages in Hong KongDefinition problemsThe national languageLanguage policy

  • Historical and Political Development1840-1842First Opium War

    1856-1858Second Opium War

    1898The New Territories and the outlying islands were leased to Britain for 99 years

    1997China resumed sovereignty in Hong Kong

  • Economic Development1841Fishing port


    1960s-1970sManufacturing hub

    1980s-presentInternational financial centre

  • NyLonKong

  • Impact on the language situationThe existence of English alongside Chinese, even after China resumed sovereignty in Hong Kong

  • Ordinances on official languages

    1.The Official Languages Ordinance (1974)

    2.The Official Languages Ordinance amendment (1987)

    3.The Basic Law (1997)

  • The Official Languages Ordinance (1974)

    The official languages possess equal status and, subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, enjoy equality of use for the purposes of communication between the Government or any public officer and members of the public and for court proceedings.(Chapter 5, Section 3)

  • The Basic Law (1997)

    In addition to the Chinese language, English may also be used as an official by the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.(Chapter 1 Article 9)

  • Definition problems

    The variant(s) of spoken and written Chinese are not defined in the legal documents.

  • Chinese in Hong Kong

  • Modern Standard Chinese




  • The National Language

    The concept of national language was vague to Hong Kong people during the colonial period.

    In the post-colonial period, the Hong Kong government starts to promote the national language Putonghua.

  • Language Policy

  • Biliteracy

    All children studying at local government-aided schools learn both Chinese and English from Primary 1 for 12 years through the end of senior secondary education.

  • Trilingualism

    Proportion of the population able to speak English as another languageSource: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Government


  • Trilingualism

    Proportion of the population able to speak Putonghua as another languageSource: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong Government