As 50% or more of the world’s towns and cities are bilingual or multilingual communities (Pennington et al. 1992), quantities of research studies have been carried out on language behavior or choice of a certain ethnic group in a bilingual or multilingual community. This research focuses on the language behavior of a mother-tongue Mandarin speaker who is having graduate study in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is a typical metropolis immersed in multilingualism, since there are considerably diverse ethnic groups in this area (2011 Census Office, 2012). According to the report of 2011 Census Office (2012), the number of mother-tongue Standard Mandarin (hereafter, Mandarin) speakers in Hong Kong has displayed an increase in the last ten years due to the fact that more mainland Chinese come to Hong Kong for employment or education. More specifically, today, the majority of non-local students in Hong Kong come from mainland. Yeung (2012) reports that approximately 80% of non-local tertiary students in Hong Kong are mainland Chinese.
In the next section, related theories, background of the study and previous related studies are reviewed. The third section introduces the methodology for the present study and the following section presents the results. In the last two sections, discussion are made on with the implication of the outcome of the study and conclusion are drawn followed by suggestions for further relevant studies.
Hong Kong is a society in which more than one language (Cantonese and English) is officially recognized and widely used, while Cantonese is the predominant language as about 90% of the people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their usual language (Pennington, 2013). However, because of the diversity in ethnic groups occurring in Hong Kong, the factual linguistic situation is more complex than bilingualism. After the hand-over in 1997, more Mandarin speakers have visited or moved to this international city. In spite of the consistent dominant Cantonese in Hong Kong, there is a dramatic spread of Putonghua within the community, whose total number of speakers in Hong Kong (47.8% of the total population) today has in effect exceeded that of English (46.1%), one of the official languages in HKSAR (2011 Census Office, 2012). Though there has been a much wider tolerance of Mandarin speaking in different contexts in Hong Kong (Chen, 2012), Mandarin speakers experience language alternation in this triglossic community.
Many studies have been conducted to examine the language behavior of a specific ethnic group. Gibbons (1987) and Pennington et al. (1992) carried out empirical studies on investigating code-switching and code-mixing of HongKongers in different communicative contexts in Hong Kong and their attitudes towards language alternation. Pannu (1994) focused her research on Indian ethnic group in Hong Kong, which explored their language repertoire and perception of their language use. As...