Date: Wed, 05 May 2004 12:23:32 +0800 From: Liao Kaihong Subject: Chinese Englishes: A Sociolinguistic History
AUTHOR: Bolton, Kingsley TITLE: Chinese Englishes SUBTITLE: A Sociolinguistic History PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press YEAR: 2003
Liao Kaihong, College of Foreign Studies, Jinan University, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China
This book aims to examine the history of the English language in China from the early seventeenth century to the present. The author gathers together and makes sense of an accumulated body of historical, linguistic and sociolinguistic research on the description and analysis of English in Hong Kong and China. Chinese Englishes have been approached from the perspective of socioliguistic history and a wide range of various disciplines: anthropology, history and sociology. The author reveals the forgotten history of English in China and points out how contemporary Hong Kong English possesses its historical roots in Chinese pidgin English. The book is designed to appeal not only to linguists, but to all those showing interests in the fields of Asian studies and English studies, involving those concerned with cultural and literary studies.
The book consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 attempts to associate the study of World Englishes and new Englishes with a number of related disciplines ¨C English studies, English corpus linguistics, the sociology of language, applied linguistics, pidgin and creole studies, lexicography and critical linguistics, with the purpose of providing a critical overview of current approaches to research with these disciplines and exploring how far the World Englishes paradigm may facilitate clarifying research on English in Hong Kong and China. In the past two decades, the term 'new Englishes' has been employed to refer to the 'localised' forms of English found in different parts of world. A plethora of terminology has come into being, in which the terms, for the present, enjoying the greatest popularity are 'world English', 'World Englishes', ''global English'' and 'new Englishes'. In differing branches of linguistics, such as English linguistics, sociolinguistics and applied linguistics, there exists a sudden interest in 'new Englishes', which has gained acceptance from language scholars and even won recognition among the British and American general public. 'Hong Kong English' can be considered as a 'new English'. Although little research has been published on the 'indigenisation' or 'nativisation' of Hong Kong English, it has long been recognized in the international literature. By drawing conclusions from the published literature, the author points out that there exists strong evidence of an increased recognition of Hong Kong English as an autonomous variety on a par with other Asian Englishes. As to English in China and Chinese Englishes, the author briefly surveys the history and use of English in China, discusses the historical development of Chinese Englishes, makes an estimation of the number of English teachers and English speakers in China and predicts the future development of Chinese English. In a nutshell, Chapter 1 intends to clear the way for the description and analysis of Chinese Englishes, which follows in the succeeding chapters.
Chapter 2 explores in some detail the characteristics of Hong Kong society from a sociolinguistic perspective and handles the sociolinguistic description of English and various languages in Hong Kong, in which the exploration of language issues is based on the sociopolitical description of the final years of British colonialism. The preceding parts of the chapter deal with the sociopolitical history of Hong Kong in recent years. The author gives a detailed description of Hong Kong society from 1980 to 1997, including the political, economic and social contexts, the economic transformation of Hong Kong, the cultural identity of Hong Kong people and Hong Kong speech community. The remaining parts deal with the linguistic aspects against Hong Kong sociopolitical backdrop from historical and contemporary points of view for the sake of elucidating the particular dynamics of Hong Kong as a multilingual society. The author also brings up one remarkable feature of the recent linguistic history of Hong Kong, viz., the numbers of Hong Kong Chinese speakers of English have grown rapidly and dramatically in the late British colonialism. The author further explores the sociolinguistic issues in Hong Kong from 1980 ¨C 1997, language planning in Hong Kong, the 'medium of instruction' issue, and the like. Then, the author lists a number of studies concerned with varied mechanisms of language contact, involving work on linguistic borrowing from English into Hong Kong Chinese and from Chinese into English, as well as a series of studies of code-switching and code-mixing in such domains as secondary education, university and the print and broadcast media. As to the issue of ideologies of language, the author makes a sociolinguistic description of Hong Kong from three most powerful myths, dubbed as the 'falling standards myth', the 'mono lingualism' and the 'invisibility myth'.
Chapter 3 traces the 'forgotten past' of English in southern China and describes the archaeology of Chinese Englishes. The core components of the investigation are historical and textual aspects. The author approaches the historical aspects in the meaning of examining the western trade and settlement in Southern China and the textual respects of the source materials of written, and occasionally oral, forms of the language. More detailedly, a description of the western traders' expedition in Asia and China, such as the Weddell expedition and Peter Mundy in China, has been made. It is worth note that Mundy's diary, which supplied a series of account of the people ¨C Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese ¨C their social customs, appearance, dress and food, for the purpose of describing their effects on the linguistic aspects. A large number of the texts researched are the archives of early maritime trading voyages to China, accounts of Canton trade and writing of China missionaries and colonial officials. The author is also in a position to present 'Early Asian English', definitely in the Chinese context; 'Chinese Pidgin English', and 'China Coast English' from nineteenth-and early twentieth-century sources. The linguistic analysis of these Englishes has been made at the level of vocabulary and in terms of semantic field. It is stated that Chinese English is subject to changes in the long process of language evolution. Sufficient data have been collected concerning the Chinese¨Cauthored glossaries and dictionaries of English from the period of 1637 to the present. All these descriptions present a line of historical development of the English in Southern China which commenced in the early seventeenth century, developed into the 'Canton English' in the late eighteenth century, continued with 'China Coast English' in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and extended to the contemporary 'Hong Kong English'.
Chapter 4 discusses the status, functions and features of English in contemporary Hong Kong. This chapter surveys the sociolinguistic background of the recognition of Hong Kong English, and produces the arguments in favour of a 'paradigm shift' which accommodates the emergence and recognition of Hong Kong English as a localized variety on a par with other Asian Englishes. Subsequently, a comparison between Hong Kong English and other Asian English has been made in terms of recognition and legitimation, especially in comparison with Philippine English in the light of such distinguishing features as phonology, vocabulary, syntax and even 'non-linguistic' factors, as Philippine English has achieved recognition but is still moving towards full 'legitimation'. The author presents an analysis of the Hong Kong accent in terms of segmental and suprasegmatal features, with reference to the vowel system and the consonant system, then enumerates a number of studies of a distinct Hong Kong vocabulary published recently, in which sample entries have been itemized and categories of word-formation in Hong Kong English have been offered, such as coinage, borrowing, modified semantic reference, and modified grammatical form. The author further discusses the criteria indispensable to the recognition of Hong Kong English. The later sections of the chapter explores the Hong Kong English's creativity in literary as well as less formal contexts. In addition, the author produces arguments that the recognition of Hong Kong English is not only on the grounds of features of language, but also on the acceptance of a new space for the discourses closely connected with English in Hong Kong.
Chapter 5 attempts to follow the history of Hong Kong English and Chinese Englishes. The author presents a historical survey of English teaching in China from the late Qing Dynasty to the present and brings out records indicating that the earliest missionary schools and colleges were established in South China, Macao and Hong Kong, and the thirteen Protestant Christian colleges set up at the turn of the century exerted influence on Chinese education, in which English was taught and most of the colleges opted for the use of English as a teaching medium. The author also describes the Chinese initiatives in teaching English from 1862 to 1911, and mentions some important Chinese officials and intellectuals who are greatly concerned with the learning of European languages, especially English. Then the author reviews English teaching in the Republican period from 1911 to 1949. At length, the author explores English in China after the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949 to the present, and points out that by the early 1980s, English has started to receive increased attention, English teaching has become an indispensable course in state schools, private schools and tutorial centers in China. The author emphatically refers to a teaching approach, known everywhere throughout China as 'Crazy English', designed by the charismatic English teacher named Li Yang. In the final parts, the notion of 'Chinese Englishes' has been advanced from a historical viewpoint for the purpose of setting up some connections between the past of Hong Kong and South China and the dramatically changing and developing present of the PRC, and there are indications that the world Englishes paradigm is its potential for pluralism and pluricentricity. As China has entered the world trade Organization and sustains the further opening policy, predictions are that the possible futures of Chinese Englishes will be splendid.
''Chinese Englishes'' is a pioneer book exploring the history of the English language in China from the arrival of the first English-speaking traders to the present from a perspective of sociolinguistic history. The author collects and examines a large body of data concerning English in Hong Kong and China, Early wordlists, satirical cartoons and data from journals and memorials, as well as conventional sources have been supplied as evidences to uncover the forgotten past of English in China and to demonstrate how contemporary Hong Kong English possesses its historical roots in Chinese pidgin English. Up till the present moment, no complete works concerning Chinese English has been published. The materials of Chinese English we have collected are quite fragmentary. Only some scrappy articles written by western and Chinese scholars are available, which emphasize the objective existence of the dubbed terms of 'Chinese English', 'China English' or 'Chinglish' (Li Wenzhong, 1993); however, nobody attempts to employ theories and illustrations to present us a clear picture of Chinese English. Therefore, the book has brought great enlightenment to those working in the field of Asian studies and English studies, especially to those who show interests in the English varieties. In addition, the book has produced highly referential values for English variety studies and language teaching fields.
In terms of its structure, the book is carefully arranged, well knitted and coherent. The entire book is organized in the sequence of starting from the macro or general coverage and ending with the micro or specific elucidation. Specifically speaking, the book starts form the macroscopic views on New Englishes and World Englishes, narrows down to 'Chinese Englishes', subsequently deals with 'Hong Kong English' as a 'New English', and concludes with examining the development of Hong Kong English and Chinese Englishes. The well-conceived arrangement of the chapters may help readers grasp a good understanding of the world Englishes and 'new' Englishes, grow an awareness of the variations of English as well as the pluricentricity of English worldwide and recognize Chinese English as a branch of new Englishes. This 'general-to-specific' arrangement of the structure facilitates, to some degree, readers' understanding and grasp of the essence and spirit of the book.
As to the contents, the book approaches English in Hong Kong and China from historical, linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives, with the focus on the sociolinguistic history of Hong Kong English and the archaeology of Chinese Englishes. The author has discussed Chinese Englishes by supplying both the general linguistic background and specific examples, which may help readers gain insights into the history and formation of Chinese Englishes. While discussing the sociolinguistics of late colonial Hong Kong English, a review has been made of Hong Kong society from 1980 ¨C 1997, including the detailed description of the political economic, social and cultural contexts and the Hong Kong speech communities and the effects these contextual variables exert on Hong Kong English. A clear picture of the sociolinguistics of Hong Kong English has been hierarchically presented before readers. In the light of the archaeology of Chinese Englishes, the author follows the same route of looking back on the earliest records of western trade and settlement in China, the early western maritime trading voyages to China, the diaries of China missionaries and colonial officials, early accounts of the Canton jargon and the existence of Chinese pidgin English and China Coast English and their effects on the formation of Chinese English. In so doing, readers' attention may be drawn to the actual process of the formation of Chinese Englishes and an awareness of the backgrounds to linguistic aspects of Chinese English may be sharpened with advantages of helping readers obtain a linguistic profile of Chinese English from a 'Top-down' perspective. This may also help readers develop interests in the history of Chinese English and obtain a distinct image of what Chinese English is like.
The defects of this book lies in the fact that a large section is devoted to discussing the linguistic backgrounds of Chinese Englishes, such as the social and cultural and political contexts, the western trading voyages to China and so on, which have relation to the existence of Chinese English; however, the book lacks sufficient data demonstrating the characteristics of Chinese Englishes. Particularly, some parts concerning Chinese dialects and the Yale system for transcribing Cantonese seem to be irrelevant to the topic of Chinese English. Therefore, it may be said that the book lacks the absolute focus of attention. What is more, the book predominantly presents a sociolinguistic history of Chinese Englishes and uncovers the archaeology of Chinese Englishes, but fails to describe the varied aspects of Chinese Englishes and examine the existence of Chinese Englishes from various points of view. As a result, it may produce less convincing significance to the study of English varieties. Lastly, the book explores the linguistic phenomena of Chinese Englishes only at the level of phonology, lexicon and grammar, yet the use of language covers a wider range, such as discourse, and cultural factors affecting the application of language. So there is much interest to carry out the research of Chinese Englishes from wider respects to remedy this defect.
As English has got internationalized and nativized, it differs, to a certain extent, from British English in terms of phonology, lexis, grammar, discourse, register, style and literature. The uncountable noun 'English' has inevitably become pluralized as 'Englishes' (Jian Yajun, 1995). The criteria of English have been the focus of exploration for scholars from different countries. Britain made English an international language in the nineteenth century with its empire, but Americans have been the driving force behind its globalization in the twentieth century (Augustin Simo Bobda, 1998). The booming of American English is threatening to shake the hegemony of the mother variety. Most predictions are that English in future will be American-dominated (David Crystal, 1992). The legitimation and recognition of American English into the mother variety enables us to consider the acceptability of other Englishes.
China has an estimated population of 300 million learning, speaking and using English. English is everywhere in china (Kang Jianxiu, 1999). Definitely, the spread of English in China may be subject to variations, bearing Chinese flavour. Do foreign tourists complain a lot about the variety English used in China? Are the English-speaking experts working in China at a loss when performing their tasks owing to some pragmatic failures? Definitely, not.
In the past two decades, owing to the 'open-door' policy adopted in China and the acceleration of international exchange, Chinese people hope that English used in China may become a distinct variety from its mother tongue, termed 'Chinese English'. How about the status quo of Chinese English? Have linguistic scholars testified the objective existence of Chinese English by carrying out empirical researches? Some Chinese professors and scholars have attempted to define Chinese English and approach Chinese English from theoretical points of view. The commonly-held definition of Chinese English was offered by Professor Wang Rongpei (1991) as: the English used by Chinese people in their native land, with standard English as its kernel, yet bearing Chinese flavour. As for the acceptance of Chinese English, Professor He Ziran (1991) held that there exists empathy in verbal communication. Empathy emphasizes that communicators have to respect the other party's emotion and opinions for the sake of reaching a tacit agreement to gain expected results in the process of verbal communication. Simultaneously, Chinese people should respect English pragmatic routines and cultural customs. Foreigners are, in turn, supposed to tolerate and comprehend the exotic characteristics of Chinese English. The unceasing development of Chinese economy, and the constant expansion of its international influence have obliged foreigners to come to China and understand China. The strong desire to acquaint themselves with china compels them to accept the Chinese expressions that do not exist in their native culture.
As international communication and cooperation appear in increasing amounts in the global village, people are prone to accept the English varieties. Yet scholars discussed Chinese English only from the theoretical points of view. No empirical researches on the acceptability of Chinese Englishes are available. Therefore undertaking a research combining the transfer theory in SLA with pragmatic principles becomes of great significance. Is it a fresh idea to carry out researches aimed at approaching the issue of pragmatic transferability of L1 features in order to ascertain that Chinese English will legally exist as a linguistic variety? This type of research may be helpful to remedy the defect of the book ¨C ''Chinese Englishes''.
REFERENCES Augustin Simo Bobda (1998), British or American English: Does it matter?, English Today 56, Vol. 14, No. 4., published by Cambridge University Press, p. 13 ¨C 18.
David Crystal (1999), The Future of Englishes, English Today 58, Vol. 15, No. 2, published by Cambridge University Press, p. 10 ¨C 20.
He Ziran (1991), Pragmatic Empathy in Verbal Communication, Foreign Language Teaching and Research, directed by Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Jian Yajun (1995), A Review of Researches on World Englishes in Recent Twenty Years. Foreign Language Teaching and Research, directed by Beijing Foreign Studies University, p. 13 ¨C 19.
Kang Jianxiu (1999), English Everywhere in China, English Today 58, Vol. 15, No.2, published by Cambridge University Press, p. 46 ¨C 48.
Li Wenzhong (1993), China English and Chinglish, Foreign Language teaching and Research, directed by Beijing Foreign studies University, p. 18 ¨C 24.
Wang Rongpei (1991), The Objective existence of Chinese English, Journal of PLA Foreign Language Institute, p. 2.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER I am currently an associate professor of English language at College of Foreign studies of Jinan University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China. I have published widely on English-Chinese Contrastive Analysis, Translation, Applied Linguistics, and Pragmatics. My recent research interests include Chinese English, Contrastive Studies of English-Chinese texts and Pragmatics.