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Bad and Banned Language: Triad Secret Societies, the Censorship of the Cantonese Vernacular, and Colonial Language Policy in Hong Kong

Kingsley Bolton and Christopher Hutton
Language in Society
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 159-186
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4168600
Page Count: 28
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Bad and Banned Language: Triad Secret Societies, the Censorship of the Cantonese Vernacular, and Colonial Language Policy in Hong Kong
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Abstract

The language of Chinese secret societies ("triads") in Hong Kong can be studied by relating triad language to anti-languages, to taboo language, and to the status of the vernacular in sociolinguistic theory. Also examined here are the laws in Hong Kong concerning triad language, and the attitudes of government agencies charged with policing the media. One striking feature of the Hong Kong situation is that the use of triad jargon can in some circumstances constitute a serious criminal offense. However, triad language also appears to be a source of innovation, through the popular media, into mainstream Hong Kong Cantonese. Research on triad language is relevant to the relationship between colonialism and language control.

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