Our interviews – The 3rd Family

The mother of the third family is Thai and got married to a Hong Kong man in Thailand. After giving birth to the elder sister of the family, the whole family moved to Hong Kong twenty years ago. The 22-year-old brother and his elder brother were born and raised in Hong Kong. All of the three second-generation of the family received education in Hong Kong. Although the mother could speak and understand Cantonese like a local Hong Kong-er, she could not write in Chinese. Due to the poor language acquisition, the second generation could understand very little Thai, except for some lexicons. As they grew up in Hong Kong, Cantonese was their most confident language. All family members communicate mostly in Cantonese and very rarely in Thai.

The table below shows the language use of the family in different contexts.

Home Work/School Friends Religious Issues Other remarkable circumstance(s)
Mother

(Thai)

98%C, 2%T Future investigation Future investigation Future investigation Future investigation
Younger brother

(2nd generation)

98%C, 2%T Secondary School:

70%C, 30%E/M

Uni:

80%E, 20%C

99%C, 1%T / Thai relatives come to visit

5%T & 95% body language (cannot communicate at all, Mother helps to translate)

Sister

(2nd generation)

98%C, 2% T Future investigation Future investigation Future investigation Future investigation

*T=Thai, C=Cantonese, E=English, M=Mandarin

(percentages are estimations made by interviewees)

Since the mother could communicate in Cantonese in native standard, most of the time she would speak in Cantonese, despite Thai was her mother tongue and the most confident language. For the younger brother of the second generation, he would mostly speak in Cantonese. Due to the medium of instruction of his secondary school, he spoke mostly in Cantonese, while the proportion of speaking English had significantly increased when he got into university. This is because English was the medium of instruction in his university and he got more chances to interact with people who were not speaking in Cantonese. In terms of the usage of Thai, he almost never used it as he was unable to understand Thai, while none of his friend spoke Thai as well. Due to the poor ability in speaking Thai, he could only use body language and some Thai lexicon to communicate with his Thai relatives when they came to visit his family.

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