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Selected Development Project
Project Title

A Study on Joseph Yau and City Magazine: The Written Languages and Identities of Hong Kong in 1970s-80s

Principal Investigator Dr Fanny Li Yuen-mei
Area of Research Project
Language Education, Literature and Linguistics
Project Period
From 1/1/2018 To 30/06/2020
  1. By analyzing and explaining the contributions of Joseph Yau in languages senses, literary viewpoints and creative achievements in literature, discuss and assess his importance in the history of Hong Kong literature.
  2. Investigate characteristics and contributions of City Magazine and examine its roles in transitions of written languages in the social and cultural context of Hong Kong in 1970s and 80s.
  3. With thorough study of Joseph Yau and City Magazine, analyze the relationship between written languages and identities, and examine the influence of local societies, mainland China and western world.
Methods Used
There are four major methodologies of this project:
  1. Writer Studies
    To fully understand the status of a writer in history of literature, writer studies is a traditional and reliable method that can let us entre the writer’s world. Although we focus on Yau’s views about languages and literature, we will also relate his views with his era

  2. Newspaper Studies
    Newspapers and magazines reflect the historical features of a period. It has long been an important research method for Chinese literature in 20th century. With extensive and in-depth study of all related texts in City﹐ we will understand the style and viewpoints of the magazine and how this influences their beliefs.

  3. Interviews
    Although it may be impossible to conduct research in literature by interviews in some situations, interviews are very compatible with the nature of our research objectives. The PI plans to interview five key persons including one of the founders, Mr. Chan Koon Chung. As a method of field study, we can understand details in specific situations that may not be found in paper resources.

  4. Major concepts in sociolinguistics
    Interdisciplinary approach is effective in producing innovative and comprehensive outputs in this project. Concepts like “The Speech Community” and “Diglossia” provide other perspectives to understand background and meaning of City and Joseph Yau’s works in the development of written Cantonese.
Summary of Findings
To be confirmed
Yau and City have important academic values in the development of literature and culture in Hong Kong. Cantonese has long been a written and published dialect. There are abundant Cantonese writings that can be found in newspapers from the 1950s and 1960s. However, the achievement of Yau and City is still critical. During the process of identity building in the 1970s and 1980s, the writer and the magazine provided possibility for the further popularization of Cantonese writing and therefore signified an important stage in the history of its development. We would like to state clearly that to examine the development of Cantonese writing is not necessarily equal to canonicalization and orthodoxy. This is an attempt to inspect and understand a unique component of local history and literature.
Selected Output
  1. Two comprehensive bibliographies of Joseph Work’s and City are produced. Not only PI’s project, they will benefit academia if formally published or reported.
  2. 4 interviews were carried out in summer and autumn 2019 and related scripts were written. There valuable discoveries for the research output. The written script will benefit academia if formally published or reported.
  3. A public lecture about Joseph Yau and City was held on 19 Oct 2019 in the Central Library. It successfully aroused public interests about Joseph Yau, City and local culture in 1970s to 80s. The questionnaire proved that the event was influential in enhancing knowledge of the public on language and culture changes in 1970s-80s. The nature and objectives of the research project was introduced to the audience. (photos attached)
Biography of Principal Investigator

Dr Fanny Li Yuen-mei is the Associate Head and Assistant Professor of Department of Literature and Cultural Studies at The Education University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include Written Cantonese and Modern China, Sound, Images and Literature, Chinese Literature in Asian and Global Context, Chinese Literature in 20th Century, and Contemporary Writers and Traditional Literature.

Funding Source

General Research Fund