Macanese Portuguese

Macanese Portuguese

Macanese Portuguese (Português Macaense in Portuguese) is a Portuguese dialect spoken in Macau. It is co-official with the Cantonese dialect of Chinese. It is only spoken by 7% of the residents; 0.6% speak it as first language. It is distinct from the Macanese language, a Portuguese Creole in Macau.


Portuguese had its contact with Macau in 1557 when it was made as a trade center of Portuguese for other parts of Asia, but it largely entered Macau in the 19th century when China ceded Macau to Portugal and Macau was declared a formal Portuguese province and it was made an official language, along with Cantonese. There is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction. The number of Portuguese speakers was almost large until 1949, when there was a settlement of mainland Chinese migrants after Communist rule began, and 1974 and 1975, when all Portuguese African territories became independent and East Timor was claimed by Indonesia. Portugal gave back Macau to China in 1999 that Portuguese speaking in Asia declined, but Portuguese as official language in Macau did not disappear because of Chinese authorities’ protection for China has strong ties with Lusophone nations, especially former Macau’s former colonial country Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, and East Timor, and Portuguese speakers increased in East Timor for 5 years after it retook Portuguese as the official language after its independence in 2002.



The Macanese dialect was traditionally an Old Portuguese variety, in some aspects similar to Brazilian Portuguese in pronunciation. For example, the word "pode" is pronounced as [‘podIPA|ʒi] in Brazil but [‘podIPA|ɨ] in Standard European Portuguese. The only Portuguese-medium school is in European Portuguese, as with most of the CPLP. There are still some phonological differences affected by Cantonese phonology made by those who speak Portuguese as second language, such as a non-rhotic accent: final /r/ is dropped, like African and most Brazilian dialects and [IPA|ʒ] is devoiced to [∫] . These phonological differences are not applied by Chinese who have higher education in Portuguese.


Macanese grammar was also Old Portuguese similar to Brazilian Portuguese, but it now follows the European grammar.


Vocabulary is also the same as in Portugal and Brazil, but there are some differences because of Cantonese influences. These include "chá" (from "tcha"), “tea”; "kung fu"; and "tim sam", dim sum. It reached to countries and regions where Portuguese is spoken, especially Portugal where it was brought by Portuguese returnees and some Chinese and Macanese (who are loyal to them) who brought Chinese and Macanese culture.

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