Cry CU 有關中大國際化討論

星期三, 2月 16, 2005

Government use of English will halt language's decline

EDTEDT14
南華早報網上版
2005-02-16

Since July 1, 1997, it has been the policy of the Hong Kong government to discourage the use of English in all sectors of the administration.

It is no surprise that all government departments communicate primarily in Chinese. An English translation is provided only if requested. Legislative Council proceedings are conducted in Chinese. Policy secretaries, though fluent in English, choose to speak only in Cantonese.

In such an anti-English atmosphere it is no wonder that the local Chinese refuse to speak English. Their exposure to the English language is almost zero in day-to-day life. Obviously the local standard in the language is very poor. I travel every day by No 23 bus which goes past Hong Kong University. I have never seen any university students on the bus converse in English. It is just not a required language of communication in a population that is 99 per cent Chinese.

Contrast this with Singapore. Everyone - taxi drivers, shop salesmen, restaurant workers and primary school pupils - speaks English. Reason: the language is the preferred medium for both the administration and day-to-day intercourse. English is heard and spoken everywhere.
There is only one solution. As a reader suggested, make Hong Kong truly bilingual and let the schools decide on the medium of instruction. Most important, the Hong Kong administration should start communicating in English.

Hong Kong has already become a Chinese city. I see nothing wrong with that because we are part of China. But this does not mean we should stop using English, which is an asset if our claim to be a world-class city is to be a reality.

ANNA NAIDU, Mid-Levels

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