Saturday, 24 July 2010

Doci Papiaçám di Macau

Doci Papiaçám di Macau, "The sweet dialect of Macau".This is a famous Portuguese song, but the language isn't Portuguese, but Macanese Patuá (patois). By the time Macau was officially established in 1557, Portuguese seamen had been trading with Asia for over 50 years. Three generations already, since from the start the "Portuguese" abroad became mixed race, multilingual hybrids. Portuguese can't recognize Patuá because it retains medieval expressions, quite alien to modern use, but following Malay and Chinese grammar, spiced with words from India and Japan.  A goldmine for archaeologists of language. Such specialisms exist: Graciete Batalha researched the dialect extensively in the 1970's.

Patuá has been dying out since the 1950's when most Macanese emigrated abroad. But there've been many efforts to preserve it because it's so unusual. It's naturally melodic: like Chinese it's a tonal language, where tenses are expressed by slightly different tones. Words are doubled up for emphasis, and rhythms adapted for elaboration.  Europeans used to disparage its "sing song" nature, but for me that's a strength. Someone really should set Macanese verse to music that capitalizes on its exotic nature.

There are lots of poems, stories and plays in Macanese to choose from. Also tapes of native speakers, so you can hear the way the language moves. The song above is a light hearted lark by Henrique Senna Fernandes, the best known poet in the dialect. Sorry, I can't translate! But the text refers to Macau culture and specialities. FOOD! Enjoy the video, too, with local scenes. Lots more on Macau on this site, please explore. I might also do a recipe for some of the foods mentioned - already posts on balichoa and minchee, the ultimate Macau soulfoods.

Unga casa macaísta vôs olá
Têm carinho na pobréza
Si têm gente batê pórta pôde entrá
Vêm comê cô nos na mêsa
Genti pobre, genti rico sâ gostá
Cativá tudo visita
Ma qui seza unga casita
têm su chiste cô alegria
tudo óra, tudo dia.

Mêsa cô toália bordado
Vaso di fûla na châm
Pisunto china bafado
Têm galinha, têm capám.
Porco balchám tamarinho
Vaca chaucháu maragoso:
Unga caneca cô vinho
Quanto bebinga sábrôso
Unga casa macaísta fazê vista
Sâ fazê vista unga casa macaísta

Siara-siara sabe abrí su coraçám
Lôgo ri pa tudo genti
Na janela sã cherá mangericám
fazê vôs ficá contente.
Tem biscoito cô ôbrêa na fontám
Camalénga feto dóci
Chá-co-sucri dóci-dóci
Tudo óra têm na mesa
Quim querê fazê fineza.


Mama Lisa said...

Hi, I was wondering if you ever has a chance to translate Unga Casa Macaísta? I'd like to add the song to my site of songs around the world at Mama Lisa's World.

Doundou Tchil said...

The song is April in Portugal", a very famous song. The words basically say, in our Macanese home, everyone's happy. Then it describes different types of Macanese food

Mama Lisa said...

Thanks for writing!

I tried to translate the song. Could you please let me know about any mistakes you see? The link is:

Thanks for any help!