Visitors would be significantly more interested in Macau if the street names were translated into English, a study conducted by the Macau University of Science Technology (MUST) claims.
According to scholar Libo Yan, who coordinated the research, the translation of the street names – currently displayed in the MSAR’s two official languages, Chinese and Portuguese – could make tourist movements easier and increase their knowledge of the city’s history and heritage sites.
“There is a fairly strong correlation between being interested in the street names and wanting to visit those streets. This research indicates that the understanding of the meaning of street names can foster the desire to visit them,” the study reads.
Talking to Lusa, the scholar said that the street names in Macau reflect the “communication between two cultures, Chinese and Portuguese.”
According to research cited by the news agency, up until 1869 the street names were posted only in one language, which meant that some of the city areas were named in Portuguese (the so-called Christian city) and others in Chinese.
Later the local government introduced bilingual signs, although the names in Portuguese and Chinese often weren’t direct translations.
An example is ‘Julongli’ street (originally written only in Chinese script) that literally means “place where the dragons meet.” In Portuguese the adapted name was “Beco dos Cules” since the word “dragon” was used to name the “cules,” or coolies, workers who performed menial tasks.
The scholar notes that the street names include references to the area’s commercial activities and to historical happenings. They also mention relevant buildings and historical figures. In Macau there are also names considered to be auspicious or idiomatic, like “Pátio da Adivinhação”, “Rua da Barca”, “Pátio das Ilusões”, “Travessa do Garfo”, “Rua da Fonte da Inveja” and “Pátio da Eterna União.”
The study included a survey to visitors carried out between May 2 and June 14. The survey concluded that the tourists who don’t speak Chinese or Portuguese tend to be critical towards the lack of English signage. To add to this, 90 percent of the tourists coming from mainland China also shared that concern.
“The street names in Macau are very special and sometimes those tourists [from the mainland] can’t understand those names, because many of them are translations from the Portuguese,” commented Libo Yan. For this reason, besides the English translations, the academic advocates the introduction of information about the street’s history. MDT/Lusa
Multilingual signposts pointing directions since 2010
Signposts providing information on Macau’s historical buildings – and displayed in four different languages – were placed near some of Macau’s busiest historical areas for the first time in 2010.
With a simple yet modern design, the signposts were designed by architect Carlos Marreiros and not only provide information using Macau’s official languages, but also in English and Japanese.
The first of these signposts was placed at Largo da Sé. Another 23 signposts were then placed near other famed buildings around town.
The signposts included the UNESCO World Heritage logo, the title “Macau Historical Center,” a designation of the listed monument, as well as a brief presentation of the building and its history.