Speaker: Dr. Grace Wenling Cao (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Time: 12/18 (Monday) 14:20 PM

Venue: HC401 (Online Talk)

If you would like to join online, please contact the course organizer Tsung-Lun Alan Wan (tla.wan@nycu.edu.tw)

This talk will present two sociophonetic studies of language attitudes on Mandarin Chinese accent and Hong Kong English. The talk aims to present how different methods of language attitudes (e.g. the matched-guise and verbal-guise methods) could be used to investigate sociolinguistic changes in a society.

The first study used a revised matched-guise method, exploring the social meanings of sounding southern in Mainland China. Two typical characteristics of Northern Mandarin Chinese are retroflex consonants [ʈʂ, ʈʂh, ʂ] (in Pinyin zh-織, ch-齒, sh-獅) and retroflex vowel [ɚ] (in Pinyin -r, e.g. 花) in word coda position. These features are usually used to distinguish Northern Chinese speakers from Southern Chinese speakers whose L1 dialects are Yue, Hakka or Wu. This study was interested in whether different degrees of retroflexion of those cues would be associated with diverse attitudes such as attractiveness and patriotism. 274 Mandarin Chinese participants from Mainland China listened to 10 manipulated recordings and rated each recording in 16 traits. Results suggested that people speaking a more retroflex accent of Mandarin Chinese would not be perceived as more patriotic in general. For the female speaker, the recording with the retroflex vowel [ɚ] was rated as less attractive and prestigious but more patriotic than the one without [ɚ].

The second study investigated the changes in Hong Kong people’s language attitudes towards Hong Kong English (HKE) and China English before and after the 2019 Hong Kong protests. Using a verbal-guise design, a survey consisting of an attitude survey and a questionnaire of identity was conducted in 2017 (N = 111) and in 2021 (N = 158) separately. Participants’ attitudes towards HKE, China English, British English and American English were tested, as well as their self-rated identities (i.e. importance of being a Hong Konger, a Chinese, a Hong Kong Chinese, an Asian and a Global citizen). Results suggested that participants developed a significantly stronger Hong Konger identity, Asian identity and Global identity from 2017 to 2021. Surprisingly, people’s attitudes towards HKE did not change from 2017 to 2021 on both dimensions, but their attitudes towards China English significantly decreased in Status and Attractiveness (p <.001) from 2017 to 2021.