English as a Business Lingua Franca



This chapter examines the role of English in Hong Kong’s business and professional worlds since the mid-nineteenth century. The chapter begins by discussing the perceived importance of English in the city’s economic development and then moves on to discuss the learning and use of the language for business purposes when Hong Kong functioned as an entrepôt centre (circa 1860s to 1940s). The second part of the chapter focuses on the linguistic implications of the city’s economic transformations since the early 1950s. This part presents detailed empirical evidence of the role of written and spoken English relative to Cantonese, written Chinese, and Putonghua in the four key service industries that have driven Hong Kong’s economy since the handover.


Business communication Corporate language policy Lingua franca Pidgin English Sociolinguistic surveys 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hong KongPolytechnic UniversityHong KongHong Kong

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