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Macau Language

Understanding what the Macau language is can help you plan your trip more efficiently. This is easier said than done since the territory has a colourful past, and the languages spoken reflect its rich worldly heritage.

As Macau’s past has intertwined both east and west, both Portuguese and Cantonese are accepted as the official languages.

Macau Language, Chinese Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, English

A majority of the population is Cantonese, which is why it’s more predominant in establishments and government offices. However, Macanese Portuguese, Mandarin, and English are also widely spoken. Mandarin is the second most widely used language, especially because of the large concentration of immigrants who work and live there.

A small minority speaks Portuguese, even if it’s an official language. In business and tourism, however, English is used. Travellers exploring Macau will find Portuguese signs, which are still found in many tourist destinations.

Given that the Portuguese ruled Macau as their colony for more than 400 years, this is to be expected. By 1999, Macau was handed over back to Chinese jurisdiction. Macanese Portuguese is the local version of Portuguese, a fusion of both languages, which has influences of Cantonese, Konkani, Malay, Marathi, and Sinhalese languages. In journalism as well as law, the Portuguese language is still used.

In touristy areas, English is understood and spoken. Most shopping malls, hotels, resorts, casinos, and restaurants use English as their primary communication to accommodate international travellers. This is helpful, even if English has not been given an institutional status yet. It’s also good to know that the number of English speakers is growing quickly.

Macau language usage tends to vary depending on your area, though it’s still relatively easy for English speakers to get by.

About the author

Holiday Point

Michael created and runs the Macau Travel Hub website, as well as the Holiday Point travel brand that incorporates a network of 16 location based travel information and attraction websites around Australia, Asia, and around the world.

With 25+ years of online experience and a passion for travel (having visited Macau many times and walked around nearly every single part of the City), Michael not only researches and writes content for the website, he also tinkers behind the scenes with the website functionality & design.

Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions.

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