Names of Macau

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Macau in Cantonese pronunciation
Macau in Mandarin pronunciation
Macau in Portuguese pronunciation

The Macau Special Administrative Region (Chinese: 澳門特別行政區; pinyin: Àomén Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū; About this sound in Mandarin , About this sound in Cantonese; Portuguese: Região Administrativa Especial de Macau About this sound (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.

Legend[edit]

The name Macau (Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐˈkaw])[1] 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.[2] 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"[3] and several hundred years after that (circa 1911) they changed the spelling to "Macau" as part of the Reforms of Portuguese orthography.

Synonyms[edit]

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[edit]

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,[4] but the Macanese Government Tourist Office uses the "Macau" spelling, as is also reflected in its website.[5] 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".[6]

"Macao" is also the origin of Macau's designated Internet country code top-level domain .mo.

Official and diplomatic status[edit]

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[edit]

Alternate Names or Name Variants for
Macau Special Administrative Region
(certain examples) [7]
Language Short Name Formal Name
Arabic ماكاو (Makaw) المنطقة الإدارية الخاصة لماكاو (Almintaqat Al'iidariat Alkhasat Limakaw)
Catalan Macau Regió Administrativa Especial de Macau
Chinese 澳門(Aòmén) or 澳門特區 (Aòmén tèqū) 澳門特別行政區 (Aòmén tèbié xíngzhèngqū)
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
German Macao Sonderverwaltungszone Macao
Hebrew מקאו (Makaw) 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 (Makao; common) / 澳門 (Aomen; rare) マカオ特別行政区 (Makao Tokubetsu Gyōsei-ku)
Kapampangan Makau / Macau Rehiyung Administratibung Espesyal ning Makau
Korean 마카오 (Makao) / 아오먼 (Aomeon) / 오문 (Omun) 마카오 특별 행정구 (Makao Teukbyeol Haengjeonggu)
Malaysian Makau Wilayah Pentadbiran Khas Makau
Persian ماکائو (Macao) بخش ویژه اداری ماکائو (Bakhshe Vizheye Edariye Macao)
Polish Makau Specjalny Region Administracyjny Makau
Portuguese Macau Região Administrativa Especial de Macau
Russian Мака́о (Makao) / Аомы́нь (Aomyn') 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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alternate Names or Name Variants for Macau Special Administrative Region". geonames.org. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  2. ^ "Home > Mazu Culture > Mom Zusheng Ping >". Mazu.org. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  3. ^ "Hakka and Macau" (in Chinese). Retrieved 2008-01-02. 
  4. ^ 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 |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Macau Government Tourist Office". Macautourism.gov.mo. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  6. ^ http://www.dsi.gov.mo/documents/sar_pss_e.html Archived February 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "Alternate Names for Macau Special Administrative Region". Geonames.org. Retrieved 2013-09-16.