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Two official languages, English in-between

Two official languages, English in-between 13/10/2011 21:58:00

Suzanne Watkinson

“Thank God I have a good lawyer, otherwise I would be dead in the water. I do find very frustrating particularly to have a business here and all the administration forms are in Chinese and Portuguese,” voices Suzanne Watkinson, director of Ambiente Macau Limited.

Watkinson established her business in the MSAR seven years ago. English is not an official language in Macau and all the official documents are in Chinese and Portuguese. A non-Chinese or Portuguese speaking businessperson would be in trouble if he or she had to handle everything without someone’s help.

“Everything related to property and finance departments is in the official languages, so I need to go to my lawyer every time or to friends that either speak Portuguese or Chinese,” she stresses.

Nevertheless, not being able to read all the official documents in English is just an inconvenience for Watkinson. “I just had to take it and find a way of working it out,” she says.

“Difficulty in reading official documents is a minor inconvenience to the pleasure of doing business here. Other people handle it with a little bit of resignation and perplexity. They say: ‘We’re in Macau, the official languages are Chinese and Portuguese, who are we to complain?’ If you are in Rome, act as Romans,” she remarks.

However, the businesswoman suggests Macau should consider this issue in the future. “If Macau wants to move forward and become more of an international city, then I believe there will be some discussion around improving at least the official documents,” she said.



Macau English: status, functions and forms•Moody.pdf