Macau sets Portuguese as one of its official languages, but according to the Wikipedia page, only 0.6% speak it at home.

However, people speaking it at home should be those who use it as their native language, right? So I might guess that there are slightly more people speaking it as 2nd or later languages.

If you speak Portuguese, is it useful in Macau today? Or what kind of people or places or districts can you use your Portuguese? Are people speaking it Chinese descendants, or Westerners-looking? And finally, is talking to people in Portuguese possibly an insult here?

  • You answered your own question. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 22:22
  • 6
    @LemuelGulliver ?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 22:23
  • Not really but if you know Portugal, you might recognize a few products/items on restaurant's menus...
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


Not really. Only around 0.6% of Macanese speak Portuguese as a first language, and perhaps 5% of the population can speak it at all, most of them elderly and unlikely to be encountered by the casual visitor. Any of Cantonese, English or Mandarin is far more useful in practice.

Portuguese is primarily spoken by those of Portuguese descent. The colonial administration did not teach Portuguese in schools or encourage social mobility, so most local Chinese did not learn it and saw no benefit to learning it.

The one benefit of knowing Portuguese is that some official signage is written only in Chinese and Portuguese. However, the airport and ferry terminals have signage in English as well, while private businesses use Chinese and English or, most commonly, Chinese only.

  • Thanks. Do you think which of English or Mandarin is more prevalent here? I believe English is not spoken as much as in Hong Kong.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Aug 20, 2016 at 7:36
  • 1
    @Blaszard If I had to hazard a guess, I'd wager Mandarin: Macau lives on mainland Chinese tourism & workers. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 9:46

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