Many people who visit Curaçao want to learn Papiamentu. It makes it easy to communicate with your new friends and it also helps to get your way around the island.
Using small words like Bon Dia and Danki will be very much appreciated by the islanders.
We have compiled an extensive guide of expressions and words that will come in handy for you. We share with you the basics of learning Papiamentu such as greetings, asking questions, and common phrases in daily life.
The History of Papiamentu
Before we dive into the guide of words and expressions let’s briefly review a bit of the history of the Papiamentu Language.
Papiamentu (phonology-based spelling) is spoken in the Islands of Curacao and Bonaire and Papiamento (etymology-based spelling) in Aruba. A key difference besides phonetics is the use of letters “U” and “K” in Papiamentu and “O” and “C” in Papiamento.
It’s quite a unique language derived from a blend of languages influenced by Arawak Indian, and Buntu African languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French.
As you hear it, you will recognize many words from different languages making it somehow familiar but foreign at the same time. Just as the island of Curacao will make you feel!
The word Papiamentu
The word “papia” comes from the Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole verb “papear”, which means “to chat, say, speak, talk, communicate,” and is followed by “mento”, the noun-forming suffix.
The origin of the language
There are various theories regarding the origin and development of the Papiamentu language but unarguably the most influential cultures to the language are the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch from the 17th century onwards.
Where do they speak Papiamentu?
In the present time, Papiamentu or Papiamento is the official language of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, Known as The ABC Islands and former Netherlands Antilles. The language can also be heard among locals in Sint Maarten, in The Netherlands and at the Venezuelan Peninsula de Paraguana.
Practice the language
Venezuelan Spanish and American English are constant influences today. word-switching and lexical borrowing from Spanish, Dutch, and English among native speakers are common. So feel free to use words in these languages as it will help you communicate with locals uniquely and authentically.
The more you communicate the faster you’ll understand the Papiamentu language. Have fun!
In this Wikipedia article, you can find more information about the different theories about the origins of Papiamentu.
Now we understand a little bit about the origins and principal characteristics of Papiamentu let’s try some expressions. This will come in handy when you greet locals and you want to immerse yourself deeper into the culture.
Don’t be afraid of any misspelling or pronunciation. Locals will appreciate and enjoy your Papiamentu. They will be smiling at you when you say hi, bye, or see you later.
You can use those words when you walk down the streets of Willemstad, get into restaurants and bars, or visit one of the beautiful beaches the Beaches of Curaçao.
Dushi, is our favorite Papiamentu word!
Whenever you want to describe something you like, Dushi will be the right word. It’s always the right word! This is how you pronounce Dushi: Doo-She.
The literal meaning is tasty or delicious, meaning that you will hear it a lot around the kitchens, eating tables, and bars.
You can also find situations where the word acts as an endearment such as dear, darling, honey, etc.
A fast way to understand the meaning is, if you find something that is the next level of “very nice” then the right word to use is DUSHI.
Learn Papiamentu Guides
We have compiled a guide of words and expressions that will make speaking Papiamentu a breeze. We hope you will enjoy it.
Greetings in Papiamentu
|Bon dia (bon dee-ah)||Good morning|
|Bon tardi (bon tardee)||Good afternoon|
|Bon nochi (bon knochee)||Good evening / Goodnight|
|Felis- dia/atardi/anochi||Have a Happy day/afternoon/night|
|Kon ta bai ku bo? (Kon ta koo-boh)||How are you?|
|Kon ta? (Kon-tah)||How is it going on?|
Ways to say Goodbye
|Te ‘oro (Teh-oro)||See you!|
|Te aki ratu (Teh-akeeh-ratu)||See you later|
|Te después (teh- despoo-es)||See you soon|
|Nos ta topa (Nos-tah-topa)||We see each other|
Manners in Papiamentu
|Bon! (Bon)||Good / Good one!|
|Bon Bini (bon bee-nee)||Welcome|
|Danki (Dan-kee)||Thank you|
|Masha Danki ( Masha Dan-kee)||Thank you very much|
|Di nada||You’re welcome|
Express your desires
|Mi tin calor (mee tin)||I have/am warm (literally)|
|Mi tin sed||I am thirsty|
|Mi tin hamber||I’m hungry|
|Mi ke sinta||I would like to seat|
|Mi ke bai||I want to go|
Questions to ask in Papiamentu
|Kuantu (koo-wan-too)||How much?|
|Ki; Kiko (kee-koh)||What?|
|Kuant’or (Kwan-t’or)||How late?|
|Ki ora, ki dia||What time, Which day?|
|Na unda ?||Where?|
|Wablif (wa-bleef)||What was that?|
Your Family and Friends
|Dushi (Dooh-shee)||Dear/ Darling/ Sweetheart|
|Ruman (Rooh-maan)||Bro / Buddy|
|Mener (me-ner)||Sir / Mr.|
|Senjora (Sen-yor-a)||Ma’am / Mrs.|
|Yu / Yiu (Yee-ooh)||Son; Daughter / Pupil|
|Ruman homber (Roo-man hom-ber)||Brother|
|Ruman Muhe(Roo-man moo-he)||Sister|
|Swa / Sua (Soo-ah)||Buddy / Brother in Law|
How much and how many.
|Hopi (ho-peeh)||A lot / Very much|
|Mashá (Mash-ah)||Too much|
|Un Tiki (oon tee-kee)||A little|
The numbers in Papiamentu
|0 zero, nul (zeo-roh)||13 diestres (D-jes-tres)|
|1 unu (oonoo)||14 diescuater (D-jes-kwater)|
|2 dos (Dos)||15 diescincu (D-jes-cincu)|
|3 tres (tres)||20 binti (Been-tee)|
|4 kwater or cuater (kwater)||30 trinta (treen-ta)|
|5 sinku or cincu (Seen-Koo)||40 cuarenta (kwaren-ta)|
|6 seis (Sei-s)||50 sinkuenta (Seenku-en-ta|
|7 shete, siete (See-e-teh)||60 sesenta (Se-sen-ta)|
|8 ocho (oh-cho)||70 setenta (seten-ta)|
|9 nuebe (noo-e-beh)||80 ochenta (ochen-ta)|
|10 djies (D-jes-)||90 nobenta (noh-benta)|
|11 diesun (D-jes-oon)||100 shen (Shen)|
|12 diesdos (D-jes-dos)||1000 mil (mil / un mil)|
Who’s first and who’s next?
|1st – Prome(r), di prome(r)||5th – di cincu|
|2nd – di dos||6th -di seis|
|3rd – di tres||7th di shete|
|4th – di kwater||8th – di ocho|
|5th – di cincu||9th – di nuebe|
|6th -di seis||10th – di djes|
|Lastu (Lahs-too)||Last / Last one|
The days of the week
The months of the year
The moment of the day
Common day-to-day phrases
|kon ta bai?||How are you?|
|Hopi bon||Very good|
|Bon, danki!||Fine, thank you!|
|Masha danki||Thank you very much|
|Di nada / Na bo ordu||You’re welcome|
|Te aworo||See you later|
|Dushi||Sweety / Darling / Honey|
|Un sunchi||A Kiss|
|Masha pabien||Happy Birthday|
|Pasa un bon dia||Have a nice day|
|Bon dia||Good morning|
|Bon tardi||Good afternoon|
|Bon nochi||Good evening / good night|
Download your free copy
Found this guide useful? Download a free full version of our Papiamentu guide through the link button below. This way you can always keep an offline copy with you on your phone.
If you want to dive into a deeper and more detailed History of Papiamento / Papiamentu visit this article written by Tara Sanches at Hawaii.edu