Phonological patterns in the Englishes of Singapore and Hong Kong

Lian-Hee Wee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


By taking a generative approach to the investigation of two phonological patterns (L-vocalization and tone assignment) in the Englishes spoken in Singapore and Hong Kong, this study brings theoretical (generative) linguistics to bear on the claim that Englishization and Nativization are indeed two faces of language contact. In the Englishes of these two places, elements of English and the local languages are inseparably interwoven, giving them the distinct characters of their phonologies. The bilingual and bicultural context makes it unviable for anyone to pursue a narrower acquisition of English that is devoid of local character. Extending from the phonological analysis, this paper explains that the asymmetrical perception of English being a language of Singapore but less so of Hong Kong is due to their differences in degrees of Englishization and Nativization. This explanation avoids the difficulty of having to justify the claim that English in one area is of a higher standard than the other. Other than bringing theoretical linguistics in line with the study of world Englishes, implications are that the curricular development of English for the Outer and Expanding Circles should focus on intelligibility and cultural richness rather than assimilation to Inner Circle standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-501
Number of pages22
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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