The linguistic tug of war in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Skyline – December 2007 (© WikiCommons/Diliff)

It’s a truism to say that language is fundamental to culture. In Hong Kong, political change is laying a path for cultural change, and language is an important aspect of that shift. When the British hand Hong Kong back to the People’s Republic of China this summer, English will cease to be the language of government.

Most people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese, but Mandarin is the language of power in Chinese. How is language being affected by the return of the Crown Colony to mainland China? And how in turn, will business life and the legal system in Hong Kong be affected by the shift in languages? 

Producer: Marijke van der Meer

Broadcast: March 14, 1997