Over 85% of the population in Macau are Cantonese-speakers and a small proportion of Portuguese speakers because Macau was once governed by the Portuguese Empire. Under this ethnic-Chinese community, Cantonese functions as the community’s standard form of communication and its first language. (S.
Bauer, Robert. “Cahiers de Linguistique – Asie Orientale.” persee.fr. N.
p., n.d) The following paragraphs will give you the information of my proficiencies in those languages. First of all, proficiency is used to define the level of skills and it involves both styles and registers. The language which has the highest equal level of proficiency in reading, listening, writing and speaking is my first language, Cantonese. Cantonese can be classified as written Cantonese and spoken Cantonese.
Written Cantonese, also called standard Chinese, uses traditional characters in formal style like books, advertisements, etc. For example, ?????? Ngo5 jin6 zoi6 zoi6 hek3 faan 6 ‘I am eating now’. Spoken Cantonese can also be written down but in an informal style.
For example, ?????? Ngo5 ji4 gaa1 sik6 gan2 faan6’I am eating now’. On the other hand, register can also be classified as formal and informal in both spoken and written language. For example, I usually use formal register like ??nei5 hou2 ‘hi’ is used when greeting strangers while informal style like ? wai3 ‘hey’ is used when greeting my friends.English and Mandarin are my second languages. Firstly, English has a lower proficiency in those 4 dimensions compared to Cantonese but my writing is the dimension which needs a room for improvement the most. Most of the teachers in my Secondary school communicate with the students in American accents and this influenced me to speak in American accent.
On the other hand, my school mainly adopts books from Oxford and Longman for teaching or reading materials, so I use British vocabularies in formal English Writings while I use informal English in daily communications with friends. Moreover, I will watch American movies during leisure, so I understand the differences between British English and American English like vocabularies, spellings and grammar. Secondly, Mandarin, also called as standard Chinese, is the official language of Mainland China and it shares the same proficiency in those 4 dimensions as English. Mandarin is written in simplified characters and with the use of pinyin for the pronunciation but I can barely write or understand simplified characters. The written Cantonese and Chinese are very similar to each other but there are some differences in lexis and syntax when spoken Cantonese is written down. For example, Mandarin?????? (I now am–ing eat rice) and Cantonese?????? (I now eat am-ing rice). Other languages like French, Portuguese, German and Japanese are my second languages which has the lowest proficiency in all dimensions. I start learning French during my University and I am still at the beginner’s level.
I know to read and write some simple sentences formally in French but I am not good at speaking and listening. I have to speak French slowly with Eastern France dialect, the dialect which my French teacher speaks with. Portuguese and Japanese are the languages which I learnt during the Secondary.
I only know the phrases to greet others and self-introduction, I can’t read or write any phrases but I can understand some of the words by listening to the TV dramas. German are the only language which learnt by myself but I can only know the way to greet and I can barely read and write in German.