Our interviews – The 1st Family

Three families were interviewed in total in this study. The father of the first family is Thai while the mother is a Hong Kong-er who lived in Thailand for 7 years before returning to Hong Kong. Their second generation was born in Thailand but the whole family moved to Hong Kong in 1994. The second generation thus received education in Hong Kong, where English and Cantonese were used as the medium of instruction.  All the family members speak Cantonese, Thai, English and Mandarin.

The language use of the family members in different contexts is as follow.

Home Work/School Friends Religious Issues Other remarkable circumstance(s)
Father (Thai) 80%T, 20%C 90% T,

10% CE

85%T, 15%C 85%T, 15%C
Brother

(2nd generation)

50%T, 50%CE 50%E, 50%CE 100%CE 100%CT 100%T in Thai fellowship
Sister

(2nd generation)

50%T, 50%CE 35%CE, 30%T, 25%E, 10%M 75%T, 25%CE 65%T, 35%CE

*T=Thai, C=Cantonese, E=English, CE=Cantonese code-mix with English, CT= Cantonese code-mix with Thai

(percentages are estimations made by interviewees)

Since Thai is the mother-tongue of the father and he works in a Thai church as a pastor, he speaks a lot of Thai in different contexts and the Thai language is dominated in his everyday life. For the second generation, they speak 50% of Thai and 50% of Cantonese code-mixed with English when they are at home. However, the brother once mentioned that sometimes he would use Cantonese to reply his father who is speaking in Thai as Cantonese is the language he is the most confident with and it is the most natural language he speaks. Moreover, as the sister works in a Thai company and has a lot of Thai friends, she often speaks Thai in contexts other than at home.

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Our interviews – The 2nd Family

The mother of the second family interviewed is a Thai who came to Hong Kong in 1993 and got married to a Hong Kong man. Their second generation was born and raised in Hong Kong so they went to local schools, where Cantonese and English were used as the medium of instruction as well. The sister minors in Thai at the University and went to Thailand for a one-year exchange programme. The only common language all the family members share is Cantonese, while only the second generation can speak English. Except for the father, all members can speak Thai, while except the mother, all members can speak Mandarin. Therefore, the communication between the family members is interesting. Sometimes, if there’s something that the mother and the second generation do not want the father to know, they will talk in Thai. If the brother and sister would like to talk about something that they don’t want their parents to know, they will speak in English.

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

 

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

(Thai)

80%CE, 20%T 100%CE 100%CE 80%T, 20%C 100%T Phone call with Thai relatives
Brother

(2nd generation)

80%CE, 20%T 70%E, 30%CE 90%CE, 10%E 100%CE
Sister

(2nd generation)

70%CE, 30% T 70%E, 20%CE,10%T 70%CE, 20%E, 10%T 100%CE

*T=Thai, C=Cantonese, E=English, CE=Cantonese code-mix with English

(percentages are estimations made by interviewees)

As Cantonese is the only common language, most of the time the family will speak in Cantonese code mixed with some English lexicon at home. It is also noteworthy that the sister even speaks more Thai at home than her mother at home. This is because she minors the Thai language at the university and she would like to practice more at home as there are few chances that she can use Thai in other contexts. Due to the social circle of the mother in Hong Kong, she always speaks in Cantonese code-mix with English lexicon even though Thai is the language she is the most confident with. For the brother, similarly, as most of his friends speak Cantonese, he usually speaks in Cantonese while code-mixing with English with his friends.  Nonetheless, due to his occupation as a hotel receptionist, he tends to use English for better communication when he is at work.

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.