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Educate: Speak! Papiamentu  
Our "Dushi" [Dear] Papiamentu is the one who speaks here. Papiamentu will speak and give all the details from birth to his actual position. All the dilemmas he has come across, but also how Papiamentu sees his future on the horizon. You will cry and sing with him. At the end of this column there is always a part called Speak Papiamentu!. Here Papiamentu will criticize or present certain special aspects that he comes across on his way.


How are you, dear reader?

Here am I again to present myself and say something that I have had on my chest for a long time. I am Papiamentu. I constantly come out of people's mouths for a walk, I get out to fly in people's ears so they can keep abreast of a little bit of everything . But the time has come to speak up and to pour out my heart.


Many people hack me every day. Some chew me up, mix me with their saliva of different foreign languages; some think they are stylish and constantly twist me on all sides and think they can teach me something. They treat me like a child. They think they can refine me or upgrade me by putting me under the cape of 'neologism'. That is why I am happy that Djispi has given me a little space to speak in this column, so that I can tell something about my (turbulent) past, my (still) turbulent present (with all the discussions still going on whether I am still welcome or not in schools), and also that I can talk about my (brilliant) future. At least, that is my hope, that is what I want and of course that is what I surely deserve.


But before we get there, I have a lot to tell you. I have a long history. I have a lot to say. This is how I want to relieve myself. And of course online; on the Web. I continue to educate myself to stay informed and know which are the most effective media for entering a home easily. Everyone needs to become more aware of my calvary so that I don't have to mourn anymore. I have lived in times of twisters, hurricanes, earthquakes and even tsunami. But every time I get stronger from all this turbulence.


OK, seriously now. In the following editions I will tell you about my origin and formation. And for convenience, I refer to myself with my first name: Papiamentu. This time's topic is:


As we illustrated last time, we have been using the actual spelling of papiamentu since 1981. Spelling is the study of a particular way of writing a language. And as we said, it is in 1983 that our spelling was published in the book: Orthography of Papiamentu.

So Papiamentu had to to walk an ordeal with regard to its spelling. We all remember the various discussions since 1918, including the book called: Papiamentoe i su manera di skirbié (Papiamentu and his way of writing) and also the book that received international recognition in 1928, where German professor Rodolfo Lenz, who worked in Chile, has published his research on the grammar of papiamentu in the book Papiamento la lengua criolla de Curazao (Papiamentu the creole language of Curaçao). Thanks to the many campaigns to promote the correct spelling of Papiamentu, and also the fact that Papiamentu has come to school, many of us know now how to write Papiamentu correctly.

However not everyone really knows what papiamentu entails. Therefore, in this edition we will talk about some spelling rules of our Papiamentu.

According to most linguists, the structure of Papiamentu is African and the vocabulary of Papiamentu is Latin, especially Spanish.


The personal pronouns of Papiamentu are: (a) mi [I] / (a) bo [you] / e [he / she / it] / nos [we] / bos (o) nan [you] / nan [they] . Papiamentu verbs are unchangeable. That means the verbs don't depend on the type of person or quantity. In main and ordered sentences you have to place a tense before it. This is to name the present, "ta" [is], the past, "a" [has], and the future "lo" [will].


Some examples of phrases are: Mi ta papia / El a bai / Bosnan lo kome. [I talk / He went / You will eat].


As we said, the shapes of the verbs will NOT change. It is the particle before the verb that indicates the tense of the sentence.

Papiamentu, like the Spanish gerund, also uses the forms –ando and –iendo.

For example: E ta kanando [He is walking] / Nan ta gritando [They are shouting].

The alphabet of Papiamentu also has 26 letters. But we cannot indicate all sounds in this language with these letters. Therefore, Papiamentu uses modification. This means that the appearance of some letters changes through the use of an accent, diaeresis, etc.


The vowels of Papiamentu are: a / e / i / o / u.

The modified vowels are: è / ò / ù / u.

In addition, Papiamentu also makes a distinction between strong vowels and weak vowels.

The strong vowels are: a / e / o. The weak vowels are: i and u because they sometimes sound like j and w. For example in the words 'kabai' [horse] and 'Kòrsou' [Curaçao].


The only modificated consonant of Papiamentu is: ñ. For instance in the word 'galiña' [chicken].

Papiamentu has also the known sounds that are produced by two consonants, these are: ch / dj / sh and zj. There are also the consonants with a special meaning like c / j / q / x. Normally these last letters are not used in Papiamentu. They are used only in combination with another consonant, in geometry (for instance: CO2), own name (Cathleen, Cindy) and geographical names (Colombia, Connecticut, New York City, Quebec etc.)


Papiamento also uses diphthongs and tripthong.

Difthong are twoi vowels that form one sound:

Difthong: ai - ia - oi - io - ei - ie - eu - ou - ùi - iu

Kaiman, kaikai, mai, paila [alligator, gill, old lady, saucepan]

Gloria, fia, glasial, historia [Gloria, borrow, glacial, history]

Keiru, rei, kabei, pleitu [walking / driving around, hair, fight]

Fiel, tienda, miedu, fiesta [faithful, store, fear, party]

Dùim, kùif, flùit, brùin [thumb, crest, whistle, brown]

Riu, skiu [river, shy]

Flambeu, leu, kangreu [torch, far, crab]

Kouchi, fèrkout, sous, infrou [cage, common cold, sauce, prickly pear]

Roi, morkoi, ploi, konvoi [sewer, turtle, pleat / wrinkle, bus]

Riol, bario, krio, avion [sewer, neighborhood, child, plane]


Triphthong are three vowels that form one sound:

Triphthong: ieu - iou - iau - uai

Bieu - pieu [old - lice]

Bakiou - miou [salted dry codfish - meow]

Miau [meow]

Zuai [wave / throw]


The spelling of Papiamentu has evolved a lot. But we are not there yet. However, since it is related to a gradual process, we can still be satisfied with the main results we have already achieved.


Now we go to the corner of: Speak Papiamentu!

This time we want to talk again about something we already talked about in one of our previous editions. Why are we doing this? As we have said, Papiamentu, that's me, has had to walk down a difficult path to be where I am now. But lately it seems like they want to squeeze my feet back into the wrong shoe size.


More and more I see several people who force my cadence and who try to put the word "tur [all]" on my "tutu[1]" forehead.
Just a few years ago, we could hear some teenagers and some reporters constantly using this word in their sentences when they wanted to indicate number or totality. But this word 'tur [all]' was put in the wrong place in my sentences.


They used expressions like:

      * Kiko tur tin di mira na e eksposishon ei?
      * Kiko tur boso ta bai hasi?

As we said, this is clearly a forced Papiamentu translation from the Dutch language.
"Wat allemaal ..."

But what I really regret is that unfortunately I have to say that since that day that I brought that up (that people try to force me in the wrong way, and that because of that they let me evolve in the wrong way), that people kept using that word incorrectly in my sentences.
Now I see that even older people and lately even an important minister continues to misuse this word, such as in the sentence:

       * Kuantu tur e ta costa ... ”


Guys, this is NOT possibel. Stop comparing my rythm, my cadence and formation of my phrases with foreign languages. 

Let me correct this  monstrosity at once!

       *Kiko tur tin di mira na e eksposishon ei?
Correct is:
       Kiko tin di mira na e eksposishon ei?


The phrase without ´tur [all]´ already indicates what there is to see.
Or if you want to put emphasis, you can say for instance:

       Kiko ta tur loke tin di mira na e eksposishon ei?
       Kiko asina tin di mira na e eksposishon ei?


Let’s correct the next phrase also immediately:

      *Kiko tur boso ta bai hasi?

Correct is:
       Kiko boso ta bai hasi?
       Kiko asina boso ta bai hasi?



And let me correct our minister's sentence immediately before I have a heart attack and can no longer finish this column:

       * Kuantu tur e ta costa ...

Correct is:

         Kuantu e ta costa ...


Or for instance:

        Kuantu e ta kosta den su totalidat ...


If every time we speak Papiamentu, we focus more on the structure of our language, or rather, every time we speak Papiamentu, and are corrected by a linguist or articles like this, we learn from our mistakes, and we do our best to keep using the correct forms of our language, we'll see slowly but certainly how easier it will become  for us.

The problem is that many of our people don't even worry when you correct them. Some people can even get very angry and will not appreciate it.

But we must remember that if we don't make the effort to speak our language correctly, how can it be possible to teach our children or the next generation how to speak our language properly?

So learn from your mistakes. Make the effort to speak and write the language correctly.

Not only will this enrich our language, but it is also a duty of all of us who speak and write Papiamentu and who continue to spread our language daily.

There is a saying that you can speak and write as many foreign languages ​​as you like, but that when you are in your super emotional state (super furious, for example), the only language that  you dominate best is  your native language. Think about it!


My dear ones, see you next time in this corner Speak Papiamentu! And remember this, do me a favor: Speak Papiamentu!


This is all for now. I don't want to give you too much information at once so that you don't get tired. Remember, I want you to keep using my mood and fun in your daily conversations.


I have spoken!

Yours sincerely,


© Made by CG

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