Date
25 May 2017
A suggestion by a HKU body to promote the use of Simplified Chinese has caused consternation among Hong Kong locals who favor Traditional Chinese characters. Photo: RTHK
A suggestion by a HKU body to promote the use of Simplified Chinese has caused consternation among Hong Kong locals who favor Traditional Chinese characters. Photo: RTHK

Study shows jump in Mandarin ability among people in their 20s

A study has found that nearly 70 percent of Hong Kong citizens in their twenties are capable of speaking Mandarin, public broadcaster RTHK reported Monday.

According to the Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong, the proportion of people in their twenties who are able to speak Mandarin has jumped from less than 20 percent a decade ago.

The center undertook a research project on language use, proficiency and attitudes in Hong Kong, interviewing more than 2,049 youth between August 2014 and January 2015 over the phone.

Kapathy Luke Kang-kwong, co-investigator in the study team, dismissed the idea that Cantonese will fade away amid the influx of new mainland immigrants in Hong Kong.

Luke, who is a professor of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, stressed that new immigrants would have to pick up Cantonese instead in order to blend into Hong Kong society.

Meanwhile, the HKU research center urged the government to promote the use of the Simplified Chinese through the education system, given its significance in national communication and the relatively low levels of proficiency among the local community.

The suggestion of promoting the use and teaching of Simplified Chinese has angered many Hong Kong netizens as Traditional Chinese characters are considered as the genuine form to preserve local Chinese culture.

Some netizens, meanwhile, wondered whether the research lead, John Bacon-Shone — who is the director of Social Sciences Research Centre — knows enough about Chinese language and culture given that he is a foreigner.

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DY/JP/RC

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