Hong Kong is a cultural kaleidoscope that’s much more than East meets West. Over 20 indigenous and minority languages are still in use, Teochew, Hakka, Hindu, Pakistani, sign language, just to name a few. Even English has at least 10 varieties, including our beloved Hong Kong English. All these languages make up our unique culture as a whole. Nevertheless, the lack of exposure of these languages in our everyday life translates into a failure to recognise their importance. A staggering portion of these languages along with their underlying values are becoming endangered.
The team is putting together an online platform with an inclusive profile of all languages and its varieties spoken in Hong Kong, presenting those spoken by ethnic minorities, endangered languages/varieties and sign language as an integral part of Hong Kong, but not something spoken only by “others”. The team chooses storytelling as a device — engaging native speakers to tell a personal story or folk tale from their own culture — to document and preserve not only authentic real-life language data, but also cultural heritage and customs. This digital “storybook” can be adopted for teaching and further research purposes, on topics such as linguistic diversity, language discrimination and endangerment.
The project raises awareness of Hong Kong’s linguistic diversity among teachers and students, while empowering members of the ethnic minorities and deaf community by demonstrating their inclusion into our linguistic culture along with, rather than lesser than, other languages spoken in Hong Kong. In the next phase, the team wishes to expand to covering the linguistic diversity in China and wider Asia.
– 50 primary and secondary school teachers
– 100-200 primary and secondary school students
– Ethnic minorities (5 schools and 500 members)
– 100 members of indigenous communities
– 500 members of deaf community
– 500-1000 academics engaged in linguistic research
An applied linguist with over 20 years of experience, Jette is the Chair of the Department of English in CUHK. Her research focuses on the acquisition and use of second language phonology and world Englishes, and she is currently interested in the emergence and development of localised varieties in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam. Jette is committed to effect social change with her research and has already developed two websites for teaching purposes. Jette holds a PhD from the Ohio State University.