Signature Academic Contributions                                                                                                   代表性學術貢獻

Andew MOODY                                                                                                                                                                  

Language, Education and Society in Macau

This book examines the role of English within education and society in the quickly changing city of Macau. Macau’s multilingual language ecology offers the unique opportunity to examine language planning and policy issues within a small speech community. The languages within the ecology include several Chinese varieties, such as Cantonese, Putonghua and Hokkien, European languages like Portuguese and English, and a number of Asian languages that include, among others, Burmese, Filipino languages, Japanese, Timorese, etc. As the smallest city in South China’s Pearl River Delta, Macau has sought to maintain cultural and linguistic independence from its larger neighbours, and independence has been built upon an historic commitment to multilingualism and cultural plurality. As economic development and globalisation offer new opportunities to a growing middle class, the sociolinguistics of a small society constrain and influence the language policies that the territory seeks to implement. Macau’s multilingual and pluralistic response to language needs within the territory echoes historical responses to similar challenges and suggests that small communities function sociolinguistically in ways that differ from larger communities.

The study attempts to comprehensively review the sociolinguistic literature on Macao from the past three decades by focusing on four key research themes found in previous studies: (1) languages, dialects and specialized languages, (2) language contact, (3) language attitudes and identity construction and (4) language planning and language policy. By presenting a fuller picture of previous studies of language and society in Macao it is argued that the sociolinguistic situation of Macao should not be overlooked in the study of Chinese sociolinguistics.

A journalist for a local Macau English-language newspaper recently wrote to me and several other friends and asked us to describe Macau with one word. Many words came to mind: historic, multicultural, casinos, growth, etc.; but the word I chose to suggest does not necessarily come to mind until one has lived here, small. Indeed, Macau is a very small community. At the end of September 2007, the resident population was 531,400 and the territory occupied 28.6 sq km, although the largest concentration of population lives within the 9.3 sq km area of “Peninsular Macau” (DSEC, Macao, 2008). In terms of both population and land mass, then, Macau is a very small community, and this fact has influenced the status, functions and forms of English within the territory.

As early as the mid-1980s the English language was already considered a significant language in Macau, since the territory was then experiencing rapid modernization. This chapter provides a description of the sociolinguistic context of Macau with an overview of the place of English in Macau society through official government censuses. It briefly describes the historical significance of the role that Macau played in the first contact between English traders seeking to trade with China in the early seventeenth century. The chapter presents an overview of the current status and functions of English in Macau society. The major functions of English in contemporary Macau include the uses of English within the domains of education, the media, international business, and tourism. The chapter also discusses the multilingual contexts of English use before considering the future prospects for the language in Macau.

Language policy in education for Macau seeks to maintain the balance between three languages and develop a distinct identity for the 21st century. Macau is frequently regarded as the first and the last European colony in China. Portuguese explorers, traders and missionaries established a trade colony on the western bank of the Pearl River in 1557 and the settlement soon thrived from a growing trade in silk and tea with Japan. The Chinese language that has shown the greatest growth and development within recent Macau census data is ‘Mandarin’. There are also a number of ‘minority Chinese languages’ that are spoken in Macau and these are accounted within Macau censuses with varying degrees of accuracy and detail. Chinese is by far the most widely used medium of instruction (MoI) in both government and subsidised schools in all levels of non-tertiary education. Whereas Macau schools have traditionally used Cantonese as the MoI, students have also normally used traditional characters to write in Chinese.