Learn Papiamentu

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About Papiamentu

Papiamentu, also called Papiamento, is a creole language widely spoken on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. It is a blend of Portuguese and Spanish with influences of Dutch, English, French and Arawak. The exact origins of the language are unclear but many linguists believe that Papiamentu emerged from the Spanish and Portuguese creole languages spoken by slaves who were trafficked to the islands from the West African coasts. It is an official language on Aruba and Curaçao alongside Dutch but not in Bonaire where Dutch is the only official language. Versions of Papiamentu spoken on the three islands are mutually intelligible. uTalk recorded native speakers from Curaçao. 

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Fun facts — Papiamentu

  • The word ‘dushi’ is probably the most versatile word in Papiamentu and can mean darling, tasty, babe, sweet, sexy, nice or well-done.
  • The language is variously called Papiamentu on Bonaire and Curaçao, Papiamento on Aruba and Papiaments in the Netherlands; the name originates from the Portuguese word ‘papia’ meaning to chat.
  • Papiamentu words can change in meaning depending on which syllables are stressed. Eg nèchi means ‘beautiful’ but nechi means ‘nut’ or ‘nuts’.
  • The liqueur Curacao takes its name from the Curaçao island and is made from the bitter orange fruit ‘laraha’ grown on the island.
  • Many locals in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, nicknamed the ABC islands, speak Dutch, English and Spanish as well as Papiamentu.
  • The name of Tula Rigaud, an enslaved man, is commemorated in place names in Curaçao after he led a revolt against slavery on the island in 1795.

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