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Safeguarding and Transmitting Endangered Languages in the context of diaspora: the case of the Macanese Língu Maquista

Safeguarding and Transmitting Endangered Languages in the context of diaspora: the case of the Macanese Língu Maquista

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Published by mari4
Paper done in the context of the Master's Programe World Heritage Studies in 2012 (Cottbus-Germany)
Topic: pilot study focusing on the language of the portuguese descendant minority of Macau
Paper done in the context of the Master's Programe World Heritage Studies in 2012 (Cottbus-Germany)
Topic: pilot study focusing on the language of the portuguese descendant minority of Macau

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: mari4 on Feb 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Safeguarding and transmitting endangered languages in the context odiaspora: the case of the Macanese
 Língu Maquista
Mariana Pereira (mariana_pereira@msn.com)Paper done in the context of the Master’s Programme World Heritage StudiesBTU – Cottbus2012AbstractThe aim of this paper is to present the results of a pilot study focused on the language of the Portuguese-descendent minority of Macau in the context of diaspora. Despite theexistence of Houses of Macau, in cities where Macanese live, and the organization of the Macanese Meetings of the diaspora community, the physical dispersion haschallenged the dissemination of the
 Língu Maquista
, which is inscribed in UNESCO’sAtlas of Endangered Languages. By conducting an online survey and analyzing thenewsletters of the House of Macau in Portugal, it was possible to collect opinions fromMacanese regarding the situation of the language. The results show that the majoritysupports its safeguarding, even though only a minority speaks it. Due to the urgent needto involve younger people and to create better dissemination mechanisms, it issuggested that, among other possibilities, the use of modern technologies, by organizingonline classes/meetings, might bring together speakers and those eager to learn.Key-words: endangered language, Macanese, diasporaI – Introduction“…
why do we have to care? Because each language is a uniquely structured world of thought, with its own associations, metaphors, ways of thinking, vocabulary, sound system and grammar – all working together in a marvellous architectural structure,which is so fragile that it could easily be lost forever 
.”( Christopher Moseley In Kuntz, 2009: 4)The “present-day language revival movements”, as Christopher Moseley callsthem (Kuntz, 2009: 4), have accompanied the growing awareness of our linguisticdiversity. Yet, if reviving and ensuring the transmission of not-so-spoken languages isan enormous project that requires the will, cooperation and direct action of the speakers,the challenges are even greater when considering migration contexts.As the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated, the number of international migrants has been increasing over the last ten years (IOM, 2010) andaround a billion people in the world live outside their place of origin (IOM, 2011: 49).Therefore, it is important to understand what happens to languages whose speakers arespread across the world. If these languages stop being used, should they be safeguardedand can a new role be given to them? In this paper, we will reflect on these issues by
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
 Língu Maquista
(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
 Língu Maquista
, 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.
Figure 1: Location of the House
Still, the physical diapparent in the transmissgenerations to continue theIII – The
 Língu Maquista:
Current situation
 Língu Maquista
isAsian and European Landescendants of the first Porthe 19th centuries, thoughsome thousand (Bruning,government to improve th(Projecto Memória Macae80). In fact, it never enjoyits use was, in the end, discNowadays,
used in theatre. There haeither through online blogcreation of a dictionary (tsome Houses of Macau hathe
 Dóci Papiaçám
’s effo
of Macau and other Macanese Associations (©MarianaNogueira)
spersion brings communication and involveion of the
 Língu Maquista
, and captivationgoing work has been challenging.
pilot studya Portuguese-based creole language, inflguages (Rangel, 2010: 41). It graduallytuguese settlers and was mostly spoken betwthe number of speakers might have never2007: 19). However, with the efforts of e teaching of the Portuguese language amse, 2010), the use of 
 Língu Maquista
declid any official status, existing only as a spokouraged.
is very rarely used and is mostly hee been several initiatives to study and tea
s or videos, or via academic studies, whichough its written form was never agreed upe their own theatre groups in
 Língu Maquis
ts to disseminate and strengthen the langua
Pereira and Pedro
ent difficulties,ng the youngerenced by otherarose from theeen the 17th andbeen more thanthe Portugueseong the citizensned (Rita, 2010:en language andard in songs andh the language,even led to theon). In addition,
and in Macauge through their

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