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date: 17 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Virtually all Hong Kong Cantonese speakers know of 懶音 (“lazy pronunciation”), which refers to the colloquial pronunciation of Cantonese that differs from prescribed dictionary pronunciation. Speakers of the colloquial variety are essentialized as “lazy” and said to be responsible for “destroying Chinese culture.” These language ideologies about the aesthetics and cultural qualities of Cantonese are part of a process of differentiation associated with the renegotiation of local Hong Kong identity in the period of political change around the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997. Thus the standardization of Cantonese is at the center of social, cultural, and political negotiation with regard to community boundaries and identities. The changes in Hong Kong’s political sovereignty, from its position as a Chinese Qing dynasty–ruled rural island, to a British crown colony, and then to a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, make a unique and interesting study for language standardization processes and shifts in language ideologies.

Keywords: Cantonese, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, identity, language ideology, language standardization

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