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Musical language

Curaçao has a remarkable rhythm, which can best be heard in the mix of its many languages. Although Dutch is the official language, and English and Spanish are also widely spoken, many residents speak Papiamentu — a curious Creole blend of African, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and Arawak Indian.

Historians believe that Papiamentu — derived from the Portuguese “papear” (to speak or converse) — originated in the 17th century as means of communication between slaves, who hailed from various African regions, and their Portuguese masters. Unlike other Creole languages, Papiamentu is spoken through all levels of society and has become a major characteristic of the island’s identity.

The first document written in Papiamentu was a 1775 correspondence between two members of a Jewish merchant family. In 1802, Britain’s governor abroad mentioned the language for the first time in one of his reports, leading to Papiamentu’s official recognition.

Common Papiamentu Words and Phrases

Bon bini Welcome
Bon dia
Good morning
Bon tarde
Good afternoon
Bon noche
Good night or good evening
Kon ta bai?
How are you?
Mi ta bon, danki
I am fine, thank you?
Kon bo yama? or Kon ta bo nomber?
What's your name?
Mi yama... or Mi nomber ta...
My name is...
Mi ta bini di...
I am from...
Danki Thank you
Di nada
You're welcome
Te otro biaha
See you later
Homber Man
Muhe Woman
Muchanan Children