Towards a phonology of Hong Kong English

Tony T N HUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


Whether or not Hong Kong English (HKE) has acquired the status of a ‘new variety of English’, there is no doubt that there exists an identifiable ‘HKE accent’, and therefore a HKE phonology. The paper embodies the author's findings in the first part of his research project on HKE phonology, which covered segmental phonology—in particular the underlying phonemic system of HKE speakers, and the phonetic realisations of its phonemes in different phonological environments. The subjects comprised 15 undergraduates at the Hong Kong Baptist University. The initial batch of data consisted of a number of key words designed to capture all potential vowel and consonant contrasts in a variety of phonological environments. With the help of spectrographic analysis, it was found that the typical HKE speaker operates with a considerably smaller set of vowel and consonant contrasts than in native varieties of English. In particular, there is no length/tenseness contrast in vowels, and no voicing contrast in fricatives. HKE also exhibits a number of interesting and possibly unique phonological properties. An underlying phonemic system is postulated for HKE, and a number of allophonic variations are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-356
Number of pages20
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

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


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