Names of Macau
The Macau Special Administrative Region (Chinese: 澳門特別行政區; pinyin: Àomén Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū; in Mandarin (help·info), in Cantonese; Portuguese: Região Administrativa Especial de Macau (listen); abbreviated RAEM), commonly known as Macau or Macao (simplified Chinese: 澳门; traditional Chinese: 澳門; pinyin: Àomén, or informally as 馬交 Mǎjiāo) is one of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of the China (PRC), along with Hong Kong.
The name Macau (Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐˈkaw]) is thought to be derived from the Templo de A-Má (Temple of A-Ma or Ma Kok Temple) (媽閣廟, Cantonese Jyutping: Maa1 Gok3 Miu6, local pronunciation: Maa5 Gok3 Miu6 or Maa5 Gok3 Miu2), a still-existing landmark built in 1448 dedicated to the goddess Matsu - the goddess of seafarers and fishermen.
In keeping with saga, a fishing boat sailing across the sea one day found itself in an unexpected storm. Everyone on board was about to give up all hope of surviving this natural disaster when an attractive young lady, who had boarded the boat at the eleventh hour, stood up and ordered the tempest to calm down. The gale ceased and the sea became calm. The fishing boat, without further event, arrived safely at the port of Hoi Keang. The young lady walked ashore to the top of the Barra Hill where, in a glowing aura of light and fragrance; she immediately ascended into heaven. A temple was built on the specific location where she set foot.
Several hundred years later (circa 1513), when Portuguese sailors landed and asked the name of the place, the locals replied "媽閣" (Jyutping: "Maa1 Gok3"). The Portuguese then named the peninsula "Macao" and several hundred years after that (circa 1911) they changed the spelling to "Macau" as part of the Reforms of Portuguese orthography.
The Chinese name Aomen 澳門 (pinyin: Àomén, Cantonese: Ou3 Mun4*2 [ʔōu mǔːn]) means "Inlet Gates". The "gates" refer to two erect gate-like mountains of Nantai (Chinese: 南台; pinyin: Nántái) and Beitai (Chinese: 北台; pinyin: Běitái). Alternately, Ao may derive from Macau's previous name Heong San Ou, as it is geographically situated at "Cross' Door".
Macau is also known as:
- Hou Keng Ou (壕鏡澳 Oyster-mirror Inlet)
- Heong San Ou (香山澳 Xiangshan Ao; Fragrant-mountain Inlet)
- Lin Tou (蓮島 Liandao; Lotus Island)
- Soda Port (梳打埠)
While Ou3 Mun2 is the traditional Cantonese name of the place, it is common among the Cantonese-speaking population to use the source of the Portuguese name, 馬交 Maa5 Gaau1 [ma̬ː káːu]. The form "Macao" was the original Portuguese spelling, which continues to be used by the governments of some European countries that never made the change to "Macau". In the modern era, both the spellings "Macau" and "Macao" are accepted as correct spelling.
Duality in English
Since the transfer of sovereignty over Macau in 1999, the government of Macau considers both "Macau" and "Macao" to be acceptable spellings of the name in English language publications. In English neither "ao" nor "au" would normally be used, they are Portuguese language, there is no English spelling. The "ao" vowel combination in particular is not recognized by English speakers, they do not know how to pronounce it, hence the preference for English speakers to use the modern Portuguese spelling.
Dualism is visible in many English language government publications and documents, sometimes even within the same paragraph. For example, the spelling "Macao" appears on the local government's English language emblem as seen at its web portal, but the Macanese Government Tourist Office uses the "Macau" spelling, as is also reflected in its website. With effect from 1st January 2016, the Macau Government Tourist Office is now known as Macanese Government Tourism Office. Similarly, "Macao" is used on the Macau Special Administrative Region passport, but the government's official explanatory note on the passport spells it as "Macau".
"Macao" is also the origin of Macau's designated Internet country code top-level domain .mo.
Official and diplomatic status
There are two official versions of the Basic Law of Macau, one in Chinese and one in Portuguese, according to articles 136 and 137 of the Basic Law the place may represent itself as “中國澳門” or "Macau, China".
In comparison, the central government of the China consistently spells its name using the old Portuguese spelling "Macao". Less commonly used is the pinyin transcription of Aomen, but its usage is not used officially. The decision not to adopt pinyin names after the handover to China appears to be consistent with the usual PRC policy of respecting the local linguistic traditions in the romanized version of names, as in other non-pinyin names like Lhasa, Ürümqi or Hohhot, for example. Phonetically the spelling "Macao" produces a pinyin pronunciation similar to 馬交 Mǎjiāo which explains the preference for this spelling among Mandarin speakers.
Notwithstanding the official Basic Law of Macau requirement to use "Macau, China", Macau participates in international organisations and international sport events like World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund meetings and East Asian Games as "Macao, China".
Alternative names for Macau
|Language||Short Name||Formal Name|
|Arabic||ماكاو||المنطقة الإدارية الخاصة لماكاو|
|Catalan||Macau||Regió Administrativa Especial de Macau|
|Chinese||Aòmén (澳門) or Aòmén tèqū (澳門特區)||Aòmén tèbié xíngzhèngqū (澳門特別行政區)|
|Czech||Macao||Zvláštní administrativní oblast Macao|
|Danish||Macau||Særlige Administrativ Region Macao|
|Dutch||Macau||Speciale Bestuurlijke Regio Macau|
|UK Government||Macao||Macao Special Administrative Region|
|US Government||Macau||Macau Special Administrative Region|
|French||Macao||Région Administrative Spéciale de Macao|
|Hebrew||מקאו||אזור מנהלי מיוחד של מקאו|
|Hiligaynon||Makáw||Bináhin nga may Pinasahî nga Pagpamalákad sang Makáw / Rehiyón nga Espesyál nga Adminitratíbo sang Makáw|
|Indonesian||Makau||Daerah Administratif Khusus Makao|
|Italian||Macao||Regione Amministrativo Speciale di Macao|
|Japanese||マカオ (common) / 澳門 (rare)||マカオ特別行政区|
|Kapampangan||Makau / Macau||Rehiyung Administratibung Espesyal ning Makau|
|Korean||Makao (마카오) / Aomeon (아오먼) / Omun (오문)||Makao Teukbyeol Haengjeonggu (마카오 특별 행정구)|
|Malaysian||Makau||Wilayah Pentadbiran Khas Makau|
|Persian||Macao /ماکائو||Bakhshe Vizheye Edariye Macao / بخش ویژه اداری ماکائو|
|Polish||Makau||Specjalny Region Administracyjny Makau|
|Portuguese||Macau||Região Administrativa Especial de Macau|
|Russian||Makao (Мака́о) / Aomyn' (Аомы́нь)||Специальный Административный район Мака́о|
|Spanish||Macao||Región Administrativa Especial de Macao|
|Tagalog||Makaw / Makao||Rehiyong Administratibong Espesyal ng Makaw|
|Turkish||Makao||Makao özel yönetim bölgesi|
|Vietnamese||Ma Cao||Đặc khu hành chính Ma Cao|
- "Alternate Names or Name Variants for Macau Special Administrative Region". geonames.org. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
- "Home > Mazu Culture > Mom Zusheng Ping >". Mazu.org. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- "Hakka and Macau" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2008-01-02.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20060829085928/http://www.gov.mo/egi/Portal/index.jsp. Archived from the original on August 29, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006. Missing or empty
- "Macau Government Tourist Office". Macautourism.gov.mo. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- http://www.dsi.gov.mo/documents/sar_pss_e.html Archived February 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Alternate Names for Macau Special Administrative Region". Geonames.org. Retrieved 2013-09-16.