focusing on how a diaspora community, the Macanese, has been dealing with itsendangered language.In the Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger, created within the scope of theUnited Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is saidthat
(also known as
, among other designations) wasspoken by 50 people in the year 2000 (Fernandes, Baxter, 2001: 15, 16; Rangel, 2010:67; UNESCO, 2012). Since this number is uncertain and refers only to Macau, a pilotstudy was conducted to draft its current situation and to assess the opinions of someMacanese. In parallel to showing the obtained results, we will explore some of thestrategies which have been adopted to disseminate it and suggest further steps, thusproviding some examples that could help other communities facing similar situations.
II – The Macanese diasporaMacau is a peninsular city that was under Portuguese government from the 16thcentury until 1999, when it became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.The long Portuguese occupation, and the coexistence with Asian people, led to mixedmarriages and gave rise to a Portuguese descendant minority, known as the Macanese.This complex term, however, is understood differently by those belonging to theChinese and the Portuguese communities and is even used to describe all who wereborn in Macau (see Koo, 2004; Noronha, Chaplin, 2008; Rangel, 2010; Pinto, 2011).But, for the pilot study dedicated to the
, the targets were mainly theMacanese descending from Portuguese, born, raised or living in Macau or in diaspora,as well as their descendants.
Diaspora is a difficult concept and although its broad use has been criticized(Brubaker, 2005), it is understood here following Esman's definition: “
a minority ethnicgroup of migrant origin which maintains sentimental or material links with its land of origin” (
Brookshaw, 2000: 271, see also Koo, 2004: 48, 49). In the origin of theMacanese emigration, there is a combination of political, social and economic factorsrelated with Portugal, Macau and China’s historical events (Doré, 2000: 226). Butdespite the several waves of emigration, the ties with Macau were not broken and theMacanese took with them their traditions, beliefs and language.Within this migratory movement, efforts have been made to preserve the senseof community and the bonds with Macau, such as the creation of the Meetings of theMacanese Community and of the Young Members of the Houses of Macau. Thesesocial events, held in Macau, gather people from around the world and representativesof the Macanese associations to debate common issues and strengthen collaboration.In parallel, Houses of Macau were established in various cities (see Figure 1),acting as meeting points where news and events related to the Macanese, theirsignificant places and their local community are shared and supported.