1. Interview

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Right methods help us gathering data that enable us to answer our research questions. Two methods have been used in this research, including interview and domain analysis.

According to Talmy (2010), the use of interview has been increased in applied linguistics. And this method is particularly useful for studies aim to investigate participant’s identities, in applied linguistic. It is particularly useful for studies that aim to investigate participant’s identities, experiences, beliefs, and orientations. Therefore, interview allows us to investigate complex ideas in this study, for instance, their experience as a linguistic minority in Hong Kong, Thai-Chinese identity and how they think about the relationship between language use and identity etc.

During the interviews, it is better to sound as natural as possible. This is because giving a feeling of an informal chat helps encouraging interviewers to tell us what they really think about. Therefore, we have adopted semi-structured interview. A list of questions was prepared in advance for asking the interviewees accordingly during the interview. At the same time, flexibility was allowed during the interviews. We asked follow-up questions and were open for interviewers to develop on our questions. We treated our question list as a guidance which offers topics for participants to talk about. By doing semi-structured interviews, we are able to have a more dynamic discussion with the interviews which can help generate richer and more interesting ideas. Moreover, this could also help creating a more relaxed atmosphere during the interviews, which echoes with our goals to make the interview like an informal chat. This helped us to collects the interviewers’ true thoughts by providing a casual environment and encouraged them to voice out their true beliefs.

Three face-to-face interviews with audio recording were done in total. In each family, we interviewed two generations, including the parent generation and the son-or-daughter generation. For sampling, we adopted the “Friend of a friend” or social network sampling (Bijeikienė & Tamošiūnaitė, 2013). This “Friend of a friend” principle is useful in research, in which researcher has to investigate a community that he or she is not familiar with. As all of us are Hong Kong local people, we are not familiar with the Thai-Chinese community in Hong Kong. However, by asking around in our social circles and through our friends’ social network, we were able to gather participants from this unfamiliar community. By taking the identity as “friend” also allowed us establishing a closer relationship with the interviewees in limited time. We were also more welcomed to interview them and investigate into their community.


Bijeikienė, V., & Tamošiūnaitė, A. (2013). Quantitative and qualitative research methods in sociolinguistics: study guide.

Talmy, S., & Richards, K. (2010). Theorizing qualitative research interviews in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, amq045.

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2. Domain Analysis

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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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