A changing of the guard

After a year of providing us with an entertaining and informative language miscellany, Nacho has been sent to work on other projects, and I am lucky enough to be taking his place.

I am a widely-travelled New Zealander who is interested in languages, psychology, and several of the sciences. My family background is Chinese; I speak English and a smattering of Cantonese and Turkish; and thank travel, friends and TV for my scant knowledge of quite a few other languages.  I have studied linguistics and am a qualified English Language teacher.

I am particularly interested in the importance of language in culture, and how it defines us in our communities and those that we visit. I have the utmost respect for multilingual people, and am keen to see how the world’s languages and cultures will affect each other as mass communication and international travel continue to reduce the size of this global village.

Presently I am experiencing life as a partial outsider, teaching English to young children in Hong Kong. We have just had Handover Day (the 1st of July), commemorating the United Kingdom’s return of Hong Kong to China. The exposure to the British way of life here is still quite evident, even as China regains its hold and begins to exercise power over the languages and lifestyle of the Hong Kong people. Putonghua (Mandarin or Standard Chinese) and English struggle to become the dominant second language, and the native Cantonese may eventually be pushed out of schools altogether. It is an interesting time to be here!