Creative multilingualism in Hong Kong popular music

Alice Chik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In the post-war years, Hong Kong popular music has been characterized by several different configurations of languages. In the 1950s, Mandarin Chinese popular songs, inherited from pre-communist Shanghai, and Cantonese opera were the two main mass-mediated styles. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Mandarin came second to English pop, with Cantonese playing a minor role, while the mid-1970s saw the rise of mass-market Cantonese popular music, known as Cantopop and the demise of English and Mandarin as many established stars switched to Cantonese. Recent scholarship has tended to identify Hong Kong popular music with Cantonese, and to understate the historical roles of English and Mandarin. This paper explores alternative ways of representing the history of Hong Kong popular music that are grounded in the notion of multilingualism, asking whether locally-produced English music can also be "local" through its embedding in the matrix of Hong Kong languages and the hybridity of languages in contact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-522
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


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