English and its role in Hong Kong's cultural identity

Sivanes PHILLIPSON, Michelle Reyes RAQUEL, Jan C. GUBE

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The international maritime industry consists of a global web of shipping that covers the oceans and connects all continents on the earth. In this multinational, multiethnic and multicultural environment the English language has emerged as the lingua franca of the sea. By consensus—and, indeed, by UN resolution—it is the means through which communication takes place wherever language barriers exist. But, as many mishaps at sea prove, understanding among seafarers is not always sufficient and complete. This chapter describes the shift in demographics in global shipping and identifies the two major barriers which exist in communication at sea: the difficulties encountered by some language speakers to become proficient in the prescribed language of Maritime English and the cultural as well as sociolinguistic perceptions and conventions which can create obstacles when it comes to understanding each other. It concludes that a pedagogically sound and culturally sensitive approach to maritime English teaching needs to be adopted.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinguistic Diversity and Cultural Identity: A Global Perspective
PublisherNova Science
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9781612096025
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cultural identity
  • International shipping industry
  • Language diversity


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