Vol. 71 No. 1 (2023): NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics

Urbanonyms in Macao

Qin Xie
Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau SAR, China
Francesco-Alessio Ursini
Central China Normal University
Giuseppe Samo
Beijing Language and Culture University

Published 2023-03-14


  • street names,
  • Portuguese,
  • Chinese,
  • Macao,
  • toponyms,
  • urbanonyms
  • ...More


The goal of this paper is to offer an analysis of urban place names (“urbanonyms”) in Macao, China. This city has a centuries-long tradition of multi-cultural and linguistic integration, with Chinese and Portuguese representing the two oldest linguistic and cultural realities. Due to the considerable growth of Macao as a global commercial hub, English has also become an emergent lingua franca in this city’s territory and society. However, gazetteers, maps, and other documents reporting Macanese place names include names in Portuguese and Chinese: English names have a restricted use and status. Such a situation naturally leads to questions that pertain to the linguistic properties of these names, and to possible asymmetries in naming practices. The paper thus aims to present a detailed analysis of the Portuguese and Chinese urbanonyms and their linguistic (e.g., grammatical, lexical, and etymological) aspects, and of the emerging English toponyms. The analysis is based on data extraction and triangulation from multiple on-line and off-line gazetteers. Via this analysis, the paper also aims to account for how divergences and convergences reflect Macao’s complex toponomastic history and the role of toponomastics in multilingual contexts.


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