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The Hong Kong English accent : variation and acceptability
The Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics (2012)
  • Andrew SEWELL, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Most studies of attitudes towards the Hong Kong English accent have concluded that Hong Kong has a strongly exonormative orientation, with no sign of endonormative stabilisation (see, for example, Luk, 2010). This paper contends that these findings are partly a result of a varieties-based approach to Hong Kong English, which tends to neglect the considerable variation in feature use that exists between speakers. As a complementary perspective, this paper outlines a features-based approach which acknowledges this variation. The results of an accent survey involving 12 local accents and 52 local listeners are presented, and the findings are discussed with reference to variational patterns in the use of features. The results indicate that the phonological features of accents are important determinants of listener responses, and suggest that Hong Kong English accents may be acceptable for pedagogical purposes if they do not contain certain salient features. An apparent correspondence between the acceptability and intelligibility characteristics of features is noted and tentatively explained using the concept of salience. The implications of the study‘s findings for issues such as variety status, the distinction between "variants" and "errors" and pedagogy, are also considered.

Publication Date
Publisher Statement
This article first appeared in the Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, volume 13/2, 2012, published by the Centre for Applied English Studies, University of Hong Kong.
Citation Information
Andrew SEWELL. "The Hong Kong English accent : variation and acceptability" The Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics 13.2 (2012): 1-21.