chapter  7
16 Pages

Self-reflective ethnographic analysis of a Singaporean learner of Hong Kong Cantonese

This chapter offers a personal story of a non-Cantonese but Han language speaker’s path of adoption of Cantonese as a second language (L2) through self-ethnography. The story shows, unsurprisingly, that a non-Canto Han background offers phonological advantages since any common historical ancestor offers some degree of transparency in phonological correspondence. However, such correspondences can hinder as much as aid, as may be seen through a more careful comparison of the phonological systems of the L1 and L2 languages. The oft-touted aspect of immersion and social acceptance also receives reflection, showing an aspect of Hong Kong’s world-embracing mentality that has vitalized Cantonese learning, and showing how localist protectionist pressures may be ironically self-subversive. Nonetheless, it is important not to jump to the conclusion that Hongkongers should be open to an unmitigated influx of immigrants. Instead one must understand from here what kinds of situations of language contact would trigger localist mentalities.