Papiamento papiamentu

Papiamento or Papiamentu is a an Iberian(Spanish/Portuguese) base creole language spoken in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao(ABCs). It is the only Caribbean creole that has been standardized. Numerous works have been written in the language. Although Dutch is the official language for government, papiamento is spoken at home, in the streets, on the air, and by every class in the ABCs. 


The term papiamento comes from the Portuguese papia which means to talk. Mento or mentu means the way of doing something. Mento and Mentu forms can  be found in Spanish and Portuguese.


Numerous theories exist on the origins of papiamento. Some postulates that the creole developed from a Portuguese pidgin spoken by African slaves. In 1641, the Dutch took over territories of the Portuguese on the coast of Africa. A Portuguese pidgin had developed in those territories, and African slave brought the pidgin to the ABCs, that gave birth to papiamento. Another postulates that it was developed by Portuguese Sephardic Jews and the Dutch fleeing Brazil. They introduced the Portuguese language to Curaçao, which later developed into the papiamento creole. The oldest government document written in papiamento is dated in 1803. The Nanzi ( called Kompa Nanzi in papiamentu) spider stories was written in the language, called Anansesem. Unique proverbs and riddles was written in the language using the traditional Tambu rhythm. By 2002, it was being used as a language of instruction in the ABCs.


Papiamento is characterised by certain features. Papiamento like African languages is tonal. The language is marked by three tones. It does not differentiate gender. When gender is needed, the exact word for male and female is used. The language is typically the same among the islands with minor differences in spelling. 

Works Cited

Posner, Rebecca and Green, John N(1993). Trends in Romance Linguistics and Philology: Bilingualism and Linguistic Conflict in Romance.Volume 5 of Trends in romance linguistics and philology, Rebecca Posner Issue 71 of Trends in Linguistics - Studies and Monographs. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN311011724X, 9783110117240

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Tags: portuguese creole caribbean