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The Curaçao Difference

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Language

Curacao Languages

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Curaçao’s culture embraces many languages. Although Dutch is the Curacao official language, and English and Spanish are also widely spoken, many residents speak Papiamentu — a Creole mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and Arawak Indian.

Historians believe that Papiamentu -- derived from the Spanish “papear” (to speak or converse) -- originated in the 17th century as means of communication between slaves, who hailed from various African regions, and their Portugese masters. Unlike other Creole languages, Papiamentu is spoken through all levels of society. This Curacao language has become a major element 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, Hughes, mentioned the language abroad 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 tardi  Good afternoon
 Bon nochi  Good night or good evening
 Kon ta bai?  How are you?
 Mi ta bai 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

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