Ethnic group affiliation and second/foreign language accentedness in English and Mandarin among Hong Kong speakers

Alex Ho-Cheong Leung*, Patrick Chi-Wai Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

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As part of a larger project that investigates the issue of identities in Hong Kong, this study anchored on the sociocognitive paradigm in second language acquisition (SLA) explores the potential relationship between one’s identity and perceived language accentedness. Our study set in Hong Kong (HK) aims to extend Gatbonton and colleagues’ works (e.g. [2005]. Learners’ ethnic group loyalty and L2 pronunciation accuracy: A sociolinguistic investigation. TESOL Quarterly, 39(3), 489–511.; [2008]. The ethnic group affiliation and L2 proficiency link: Empirical evidence. Language Awareness, 17(3), 229–248.; [2011]. Ethnic group affiliation and patterns of development of a phonological variable. Modern Language Journal, 95(2), 188–204. that examine the relationship between ethnic group affiliation (EGA) and language proficiencies in diglossic contexts. HK is a multi-glossic context where Cantonese, English and Mandarin are the official languages, and they perform distinctive functions in various public and private domains. Through analysing participants’ (n = 65; born between 1970s–1990s) self-identification and their reported accentedness in English and Mandarin, we address the question of whether EGA as a set of social factors has a bearing on a person’s linguistic achievements. Findings indicate that participants’ identification with the Chinese/ HK identity is related to their perceived accentedness in the targeted languages in intricate ways that do not align completely with our predictions. We conclude by calling for further socio-cognitively informed research that investigates multiglossic situations where languages/ language varieties complement or compete with each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLanguage, Culture and Curriculum
Early online date27 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Nov 2023

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