2015-12-05

Macanese language (Patuá)

The Macanese language, (called Patuá) is the language of the Macanese, a mixed Chinese-Portuguese ethnic minority in Macau (also spelled Macao in older maps). Macau is a small autonomous area on the opposite side of the Zhūjiāng (Pearl River) Delta from Hong Kong. Macau and Hong Kong used to be part of the Guǎngdōng (Canton in English), which speaks the Cantonese language. Patuá is a creole based on Portuguese, Cantonese, Malay, and languages of India that developed when the Portuguese started trading and settling in the area in the 16th century. In 1844, Portugal took full control of Macau. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Portugal started a policy to make the Macanese and other colonial Portuguese populations speak European Portuguese. This caused Patuá, to decline and be associated with the lower classes, where previously it was spoken as the daily language of all Macanese and the trade language of the Cantonese living in Macau. However, many poets continued to use Patuá in their poems, even in the late 20th century. After Portugal ceded Macau to China in 1999, the government policy has been to encourage the use of Mandarin, Cantonese, and Standard Portuguese. As of today, Patuá is practically a dead language, as most of its speakers are over 80 years old. However, Patuá idiom is sometimes used in the local Portuguese to emphasise one's point. The play group Dóci Papiaçám di Macau (The Sweet Speech of Macau) performs plays in Patuá annually to keep the memory of the Macanese culture and language alive. They are led by Miguel de Senna Fernandes, a lawyer, former legislator, and son of the noted Macanese poet and novelist Henrique de Senna Fernandes. Below is Macau Sâm Assi (This is Macau), a short music video in Patuá made by Dóci Papiaçám di Macau and an English language interview of Miguel de Senna Fernandes done by Radio Television Hong Kong. More entertaining videos about Macau in both Patuá, Portuguese, and Cantonese, see Dóci Papiaçám di Macau's Youtube channel.

Macau Sâm Assi
    

Interview:
 

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