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Updated by Joanna James on Apr 23, 2020
Headline for What Languages Are Spoken In Macao – Reflections Of Culture
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What Languages Are Spoken In Macao – Reflections Of Culture

Planning a trip to vibrant Macao, also called Macau, the Vegas of the east. Macao located to the south of Guangzhou recognises Chinese (Cantonese) as the official language. Read on to see what languages are spoken in Macao.


Macao's Geographical Location And The Official Language Spoken

Macao is recognised as one of south China's special administrative regions. The popular city of Guangzhou better known as Canton, is 145kms to the south. Hong Kong is only 64kms away. Canton, a form of Chinese, is the dominant language in south China, hence, Macao too has a larger percentage of the population speaking Cantonese, which is the official language. While Cantonese Chinese is the official language, Portuguese is the next popular language in Macao. This has much bearing on Macao's history, as a Portuguese colony for over 400 years, plus its geographical location. Therefore, tip no 1, is to make a list of all the Portuguese heritage sites to visit in Macao. When looking for Macau hotels, 5 star options are the best, and while top hotels such as Hotel Okura Macau, will easily place you with the centre of the gambling cities entertainment sector, keep in mind to tour the vintage sites as well.


Learn About Macao's Colonial History And Links To Macao's Language

In the 16th century, trading in China between the Portuguese was legalised with the establishment of the Luso-Chinese agreement in 1554. After this, a Portuguese colony was established and Macao flourished as a hub for trade. Thus, Macao came under Portugal's administration but it was the signing of the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peaking, which made Macao an official colony of Portugal; until the year 1999.


The Evolutions Of Portuguese As A Language In Macao

After the initial treaty was signed and the Portuguese colony in Macao grew, the language was still spoken amongst only the Portuguese. Although, Portuguese was made the official language the Chinese of Macao spoke Cantonese. However, Portuguese cultures and traditions were gradually introduced to Macao, through rule and migration of Portuguese to Macao. A large number of Macao's Christians are Roman Catholics, the prevalent religion of Portugal. Walk around and sample the food, here too you will discover, the dishes are an amalgamation of Portuguese and Chinese traditions; much different to cuisine in the rest of China.


The Official Macanese Portuguese Language Of Macao

Portuguese too is an official language in Macao. But only about 7% of Macao's population use the dialect fluently. And a mere 3% call it their first language. The Portuguese spoken in Macao is a variation of the language known as Macanese Portuguese. This variation of the Portuguese language has been influenced by other languages, mainly Cantonese, Sinhalese, Marathi, Malay and Konkani. These languages are the official languages of places that were once under Portuguese rule.


The Macanese Patois Language

This derivative of the Portuguese language, also spoken in Macao, is a grammatical deviant of the Portuguese-Creole dialect. Different to Macanese Portuguese, this language has its roots in the Portuguese dialect itself.

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