Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Linda taught me something I didn't know. I had heard about Curaçao but knew nothing about it or about its language. And now I know it is also similar to Portuguese and it was great fun learning more about the ABC islands and the papiamentu language.
I'm posting here an introduction I found at www.papiamentu.com, but go to that site to learn more.

Bon Bini - Welcome
Papiamentu is the local language of the ABC Islands -Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao

Papiamentu is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and it also has some Arawak Indian and African influences. Papiamentu is one of the few Creole Languages of the Caribbean that has survived to the present day.
Papiamentu is predominately a spoken language among the local people of Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba. The official language is Dutch, and the written Papiamentu is limited to some local newspapers and literature. Also the schooling system is Dutch, and people typically don't get any formal training in their language. There have been some discussions about introducing Papiamentu to be taught at schools as well.
Compared to other languages, Papiamentu is spoken by very few people: less than one third of a million in total. Papiamentu is also a fairly simple language, and it is quite common that certain expressions or more complicated grammatical constructs have to be simplified in order to be translated into Papiamentu.
From island to island, small variations in Papiamentu mainly in spelling and vocabulary can be observed. Some efforts have been made to standardize Papiamentu and its orthography, however, Aruba decided for a spelling that is closer to Spanish, whereas the other islands tried to stay closer to the roots in that respect. As a result, some words may still have more than one way of spelling it, e.g. Papiamentu - Papiamento, Korsou - Korsow, kwater - cuater, sinku - cincu, etc. In general, words are spelled exactly as they are pronounced, e.g. "flet tair" for flat tire.
Suggestions for improvements to this page are always welcome.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Wow! A whole post dedicated! ;)

I especially love how they write everything as they hear it.. like besbol for baseball and erko for airco.. It always makes me laugh! :D

My husband, who is a native speaker, will also understand some portuguese.. For me it's just a little too far fetched. It's like Spanish is 'in the middle', and then you have Italian on one side and Portuguese on the other.. *lol*

So Italian is a-ok for me.. Spanish I do understand more-or-less.. but portuguese is very hard! .. especially how you guys tend to put three vowels in a row! wow! .. like your husband's name, I don't think any other country can do that ;)

greetings from the netherlands!