• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:56pm
NewsHong Kong

'Hongkonger' makes it to world stage with place in the Oxford English Dictionary

Amid anti-mainland sentiment, Oxford dictionary recognises city's local identity

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 4:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 10:45am

Hong Kong's local identity has been recognised on the world stage, with the words Hongkonger and Hong Kongese added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Publisher Oxford University Press has also added a new sub-entry for Hong Kong Chinese in its latest quarterly update.

According to the dictionary, both Hongkonger and Hong Kongese refer to "a native or inhabitant of Hong Kong", while the latter can also be used as an adjective to describe matters related to the city or its inhabitants.

The additions come amid growing anti-mainland sentiment in the city - aimed both at Beijing, for its role in the city's political life, and tourists, who some Hongkongers say are overwhelming its infrastructure.

"The inclusion of Hongkonger and Hong Kongese in the dictionary is definitely prompted by the city's 'anti-mainlandisation' campaign which has raised international attention over the past years," said Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching.

"We are trying to differentiate ourselves from mainlanders - not just the people are different, but also our cultural spirit and political identity," she added.

According to the dictionary, the use of the word Hongkonger could date back as far as 1870, when the Daily Independent newspaper in California used it to describe inhabitants of what was then a British colony.

Cultural critic Jimmy Pang Chi-ming, of publishing house Sub-Culture, said the inclusion showed the city remained on the international stage. "[The dictionary] would not pinpoint the words Hongkonger and Hong Kongese if the city has already lost its influence," he said.

The Cambridge English Dictionary does not include either word, but Hong Kongese appears in the Collins Dictionary. Although Hongkonger is used on a daily basis in the South China Morning Post, the archive shows the term Hong Kongese is used in just 27 articles since 1993, and only once in the last six years.

Other words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in this update include herogram, do-over and wackadoodle, which means an eccentric person.



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This article is now closed to comments

Hongkonger (definition): a native or inhabitant of Hong Kong
(Sense 1): Hard worker, (most) with social etiquette, Professional
(Sense 2): Whiner, Narcissist, Anti-lo.cust, Cockeyed
Rather than necessarily a sign of Hong Kong's continuing influence, its inclusion probably more accurately reflects the appearance of those terms in international (mostly Western) media. Thousands of stories about Hong Kong have been written in the last few years - many in major Western publications - discussing the pro-democracy fight, the anti-communist sentiment against CY and the Beijing government, state-business collusion, cage homes, the anti-national education campaign, the radical's emergence beginning to eclipse the fading mainstream pro-democracy parties, periodic elections, etc. However, being talked about a lot does not translate into 'influence.'
While the anti-mainland sentiment may have help boosted the popular visibility in the West about the identity marker "Hongkonger", i think it would be wrong and misleading to tie it to "anti-mainland sentiment" per se. Hongkongers, as suggested in the article, have long distinguished themselves from mainlanders before and after 1997 and its used by many people in many ways with no negative connotation. Simply as means of distinction no different than Beijinger or Shanghainese. However, by trying to frame it as being connected to anti-mainland sentiment it becomes politicized and we've already seen the HKSAR government has no qualms at trying to bend ordinances like the discrimination ordinance (or even the Basic Law) to do whatever they want.
Dai Muff
And which one are you?


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