Language Choice Across Generations of Thai-Chinese Families in Hong Kong

2. Domain Analysis


Another method used in this study is domain analysis. According to Marjohan (1988), domain is a sociocultural construct abstracted from topics of communication, relationships between communicators, and locales of communication. These social situations are typically constrained by a common set of behavioural rules, in another word the social pattern, which interacts with the individual behaviour. Fishman (1972) suggested that there are three factors influencing the concept of a domain, including the topic, role relation, and locale. He proposed that topics can be a regulator of language use in multilingual settings. For example, the participants would discuss certain topics with a particular language.

Marjohan (1988) explained role relations as the languages ones use are determined by the interlocutors he or she speaks to, for instead, the mother speaks to the father, children speak to the parents or grandparents. Moreover, the place where the conversation takes place also influence the languages one is using. In order to investigate all of these variables contributing to the difference in language use, domain analysis was adopted to capture all these variables.

Five domains were used in this study, including the domain of Home, Work/School, Friends, Religious Issues and Other remarkable circumstance(s). Interviewees were asked to explain their language practice in different domains and illustrate them with examples. In order to be more measurable and observable, we tried to come up a percentage with the interviewers to illustrate their language use for each domain. This strategy helped us to understand individual’s language-choice difference in various contexts. This is valuable as the literature stated that language variety is considered to reflect certain values and relationships within the speech community and with others.


Fishman, J. A. (1972). Language in sociocultural change (Vol. 6). Stanford University Press.

Marjohan, A., & Drs, M. A. (1988). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Jakarta: Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.

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