Uniquely Hong Kong

Cantonese is the mother tongue of Hong Kong, no matter how much Mandarin you hear

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 5:17pm

I am writing in response to the Hong Kong Education Bureau’s claims that Cantonese is not our mother tongue.

A mother tongue is a language that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical initial formative years. Undoubtedly, the first language of most Hong Kong people is Cantonese. Therefore, Cantonese is definitely the mother tongue of Hong Kong.

Then why did the Education Bureau make such a perplexing statement? I believe it did so because more people from mainland China have been setting up home in Hong Kong, and we often hear people speaking Mandarin on the streets. There has also been an increase in the number of mainland students in Hong Kong. I think this may have affected the judgment of the bureau.

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Moreover, there is the recent trend of more university students taking part in political activities and joining calls for self-determination or independence for Hong Kong. 

According to the Basic Law, Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, so maybe the Education Bureau wants to emphasise that fact with such a statement.

However, no matter what the reason behind it, it is not acceptable that the Education Bureau should claim that Cantonese is not our mother tongue, since most local Hong Kong citizens use Cantonese as their first language.

Laurent Li, Tseung Kwan O