LINGUIST List 11.2337

Sat Oct 28 2000

TOC: Written Language & Literacy

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>


  1. Paul Peranteau, Written Language & Literacy 3:2, 2000

Message 1: Written Language & Literacy 3:2, 2000

Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 16:03:03 -0400
From: Paul Peranteau <>
Subject: Written Language & Literacy 3:2, 2000

Written Language & Literacy 3:2 (2000)

� John Benjamins Publishing Company

David C.S. Li (pp. 199-233)
Phonetic Borrowing: Key to the vitality of written Cantonese in Hong Kong

Charmian Kenner (pp. 235-266)
Symbols Make Text: A social semiotic analysis of writing in a multilingual

Book Reviews
Jocelyn Penny Small: Wax tablets of the mind: Cognitive studies of memory
 and literacy in Classical antiquity (Hilary Mackie)

David Barton & Mary Hamilton: Local literacies: Reading and writing in one
 community (Suresh Canagarajah)
Ann M. Johns: Text, role and context: Developing academic literacies 
 (Ingo Thonhauser)

Sheila Aikman: Intercultural education and literacy: An ethnographic study
 of indigenous knowledge and learning in the Peruvian Amazon 
 (Alan Rogers)

Catherine E. Snow, M. Susan Burns, & Peg Griffin (eds.): 
 Preventing reading difficulties in young children 
 (Timothy Rasinski)


Publications Received

Index to Volume Three


Phonetic Borrowing: Key to the vitality of written Cantonese in Hong Kong
 David C.S. Li

Chinese Hongkongers express themselves increasingly in written Cantonese,
resulting in the proliferation of Cantonese elements in the Hong Kong
Chinese press. To overcome the orthographic gap, Hongkongers resort to
phonetic borrowing and phonetic compound formation. Phonetic borrowing may
be based on modern standard Chinese or on English. Script mixing is very
common, suggesting that linguistic convergence has taken place. Eighteen
months after the British handover to the People's Republic of China, this
situation remains unchanged. Standardization of Cantonese is desirable, but
will be difficult to enforce. Despite the vitality of written Cantonese in
Hong Kong, this paper argues against promoting Cantonese to the status of
an official language.

Symbols Make Text: A social semiotic analysis of writing in a multilingual
Charmian Kenner

Research on early script-learning has shown that young children produce a
considerable variety of graphic forms in their spontaneous writing. Social
semiotic theory aims to account for this variety by analysing the links
between children's sociocultural experience and their interpretation of
written language as a visual sign system. This paper applies a social
semiotic approach to a multilingual context, discussing texts produced by
three- and four-year-olds in a nursery class, where the roleplay area was
enriched with everyday literacy materials and parents were invited to write
in different languages in the classroom. Evidence from a year's fieldwork
showed that children used a diversity of symbols throughout this period.
Three factors were found to have explanatory significance: (a) awareness of
the visual appearance of different types of text, (b) children's current
symbolic repertoire, and (c) their social identity as writers. Multilingual
experience was incorporated into children's exploration of how writing
operated as a representational system.

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