How Hakka people identify themselves in Hong Kong nowadays?
We mentioned that Hakka could be used as a kind of jargon to develop secrecy and shorten social distance, and Hakka people in Hong Kong have a "strong sense of group identity". This statement, however, is only partially true. It is because they face challenges from many aspects; and we argue that Hong Kong Hakka people's identification with Hakka still holds, but gradually fading; while on the other hand, they are shifting their own identity from Hakka to Hong Konger rapidly throughout the years. We will demonstrate several theories to explain in the following paragraphs.
In-group Solidarity: Adequation and Distinction
In building and maintaining the identity of "Hakka", "adequation" and "distinction" (Bulcholtz and Hall 2005) are being used. These two ideas are similar to the concept of "secrecy" and "social distance" mentioned in previous page.
Accordingly, "adequation relies on the suppression of
social differences that might disrupt a seamless representation of similarity, distinction depends on the suppression of similarities that might undermine the construction of difference." (Bulcholtz and Hall 2005) Hakka in this case can be used as a tool to communicate with in-group members, who are also Hakka people of Hong Kong, or in the same village in Hong Kong. When using Hakka, the in-group members are able to understand one another without problem so that this kind of seamless conversation increased their similarities. Whereas the usage of Hakka can also be used to distinct people from the other groups, Hakka speakers can effectively rule out outsiders by showing their mastery of Hakka and rule out people from understanding them as outsiders do not know Hakka.
From this two concepts one can see that how Hong Kong Hakka people protect their identity, but why is it being said as "fading" in the prior paragraph? It can be explained further by Bulcholtz and Hall's positionality principle.
The Positionality Principle
As stated in the history and background of Hong Kong Hakka, the number of Hakka users in Hong Kong has dropped drastically due to various reasons such as language policy, population, or even the knowledge of Hakka. Referring to one of the the three reasons of Hakka's extinction by Lau Chun Fat (2004), parents do not teach children Hakka as it is a "useless" language.
All the aforementioned reasons can be explained through positionality principle suggested by Bulcholtz and Hall (2005), which states that "the interactional positions that social actors briefly occupy and then abandon as they respond to the contingencies of unfolding discourse may accumulate ideological associations with both large scale and local categories of identity." These ideologies associations will solidify and directly affect how one will react in interactions.
Therefore it is reasonable to infer that when Hakka people immigrated to Hong Kong, they have to adjust themselves to the place's traditions and cultures,;especially after the announcement of Cantonese as one of the official languages. After the implementation of this law, the use value of Hakka greatly decreased as people in workplace no longer communicate by using Hakka. At that time, Hong Kong Hakka people would have to abandon their own language and pick up the new language: Cantonese. And as time went by, their next generation received Cantonese as the medium of instruction in schools and mastered it as their mother tongue. Parents could not help the fact that Hakka basically has no use in Hong Kong anymore and stopped teaching their kids Hakka. At this point, their identification of Hakka is not as strong as before, instead, they then picked up a much bigger and less narrow identity: Hong Konger. This is because after the long time of settling in Hong Kong, they view Hong Kong as their true home but not "a place to live" anymore. Throughout the 300 years of living, they are now perfectly merged with Hong Kong and the other people, and that is why we argue "Hakka identity still holds, but gradually fading; while on the other hand, they are shifting their own identity from Hakka to Hong Konger rapidly throughout the years."