Linguist launches Patuá course at USJ

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Vários macaenses marcaram hoje presença na primeira aula de patuá, crioulo de base portuguesa de Macau, na Universidade de São José (USJ), na esperança de aprenderem mais sobre a história e a língua falada pelos seus avós, Macau, 22 de Fevereiro de 2017. As aulas de patuá são um projeto antigo do linguista Alan Baxter, antigo diretor do Departamento de Português da Universidade de Macau (2007 – 2011) e especialista em crioulos de base portuguesa, que no ano passado regressou a Macau para dirigir a Faculdade de Humanidades da USJ. CARMO CORREIA / LUSA

This week, several Macanese people attended the first class on patuá, the Portuguese-based creole language of Macau, held at the University of Saint-Joseph (USJ), hoping to learn more about the history of the language spoken by their grandparents.
The patuá course is an old project of Alan Baxter’s, a linguist and former director of the Department of Portuguese of the University of Macau (2007-2011) who is a specialist in Portuguese-based creoles. Baxter returned to Macau last year to head the Faculty of Humanities of USJ.
“It is important [to organise these classes] because they aren’t offered by any other institution and I think it’s also important to the community to know more about the reality of this traditional language and its history as well as the ways the language works, which words are part of it, and its grammar,” explained Baxter. As the professor noted, though, “they aren’t exactly lessons of patuá,” but rather “a course about patuá writing.”
However, “it is very possible that some [students] will end up by speaking some of it,” given that theatre plays will be read and represented in the final phases of the course.
The patuá, derived from the Kristang creole of Malacca, which also integrates Portuguese and Chinese elements, was the language formerly spoken by the Macanese community, but has but stopped being used. Today, the dialect has been essentially maintained thanks to the Dóci Papiaçam di Macau, a local theatre group which produces a play every year primarily performed in the creole language.
Baxter’s goal in organising the course, of which the first module will have eight sessions, is also to promote the language.
The course will embrace different historical periods and genres, including verse, “supposedly personal” letters, theatre plays, and “a bit of romance written by José dos Santos Ferreira.”
The course, which started on 22 February, is open to all, but was particularly designed with the Macanese community in mind. In the first batch of 16 students, many are indeed Macanese people.