Item Details

Evidentiality and identity positioning in online disputes about language use in Hong Kong

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.35604


This paper analyses online disputes amongst a group of students about the use of language (Cantonese versus Putonghua) in Hong Kong. Using evidentiality and identity positioning frameworks, we analyse 44 student posts to a proprietary online forum. Particular attention is paid to the construction of a Hong Kong social identity, the various identity positions that underpin such a construction, and how such identity work is supported by the use of evidentiality. The analysis shows that Hong Kong locals are most often constructed as an oppressed, marginalised minority who are denied the right of authentic expression and are subject to a process of politically expedient cultural denigration. The analysis also shows that evidential choices are intimately bound with identity positions at both the discourse-production level and discourse-content level. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings for applied linguistics in Hong Kong’s schools and universities.

Author: Jamie McKeown, Hans J. Ladegaard

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