Snapshots of multilingualism in Hong Kong popular music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Discourses of “cultural imperialism” emphasizing the role of local languages in resistance to the domination of English-language popular culture have largely given way to discourses of “cultural flow,” which attach greater value to multilingual practices in local contexts. Language choice has become particularly important in East Asian popular music, which is now dominated by genres such as J-pop, K-pop, Mandapop, and Cantopop that are defined as much by language as they are by musical style. Two main approaches to the analysis of language choice in East Asian popular music can be identified, based on the notions of “cultural imperialism” and “cultural flow.” During the 1930s, a rather different form of popular music emerged in Shanghai, which would later have a considerable impact on language choices in Hong Kong popular music. The 1980s and early 1990s represent both the heyday of Cantopop and a brief period during which Hong Kong popular music was largely monolingual.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMade in Hong Kong
Subtitle of host publicationstudies in popular music
EditorsAnthony Fung, Alice Chik
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780429276439
ISBN (Print)9780367226978, 9780367226985
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge global popular music series

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  • Cite this

    Benson, P., & Chik, A. (2020). Snapshots of multilingualism in Hong Kong popular music. In A. Fung, & A. Chik (Eds.), Made in Hong Kong: studies in popular music (pp. 147-156). (Routledge global popular music series). London: Routledge.