I subscribed to Christina’s del.icio.us page and between the amount of information that she gathered and the things that I pulled together by the beginning of last week, I definitely feel like my project is starting to take some shape. Christina is working on the change of language in Hong Kong since the handover and has come up with a number of interesting feeds from blogs and other sources. A few of her sources are in Putonghua, so I cant use them very much, but there are others from some blogs that I never would have found that are in fact very informative and helpful. I guess that is part of the beauty of del.icio.us and just internet 2.0 – by working together with people with similar interests, you can gather much more research than you could on your own.
Anyway, as for the direction that my project is taking. My original hypothesis was that since the handover, Putonghua would be spoken with much more authority and fluency in Hong Kong over time. The articles from IHT that I put on my del.icio.us page seem to suggest the same idea as they detail “a growing demand for Putonghua tutors” in Hong Kong. The reality, however, seems to be somewhat different. It seems that while Hong Kongers appreciate Putonghua to a stronger degree than 10 years ago, they still choose not to speak it or study it to the levels that most would have predicted. Why is this? On that note, these are my more specific leads for my project that I intend to pursue in the near future.
A Few Good Leads
A) There is an article written before the handover by the IHT that highlights the potential for conflict in the language battle between English, Cantonese, and Putonghua in the classroom. A research report written by a secondary school teacher in Hong Kong provides some first-hand details on this conflict. All of this information suggests that between learning English and speaking Cantonese, there might not be enough room for Putonghua…
B) Another possible lead is looking into whether Hong Kongers are reluctant to learn Putonghua because Hong Kongers are so accustomed to the Cantonese language and culture. Cantonese has a 3,000+ year heritage and people in HK are clearly very immersed in Guangdong culture. Is this an impediment to a widespread acquisition of Putonghua skills throughout Hong Kong?
C) I think the first two leads are good enough to go on for now, but another thing that I want to keep in mind is the HK government’s policies. There are a number of feeds that both Christina and I have located that outline specific government policies about the appropriate use of language in official capacities. For instance, there is a specific report on the medium of instruction in secondary schools throughout Hong Kong. It would be useful to compare how the government’s goals and policy outlines actually correspond to the reality.
D) Finally, since this is a new media project, I am thinking about what images I can use to dramatically convey my main points (when I finally make them!). I tried running some searches on Flickr for “putonghua students” and “cantonese students”, etc., but did not get anything to outstanding. Maybe its too old fashioned, but I was just thinking of going to one of Hong Kong’s main language tutoring schools in Wan Chai and taking some photos of a Putonghua class to show whether there were a lot of people interested or just a few.