Papiamento or Papiamentu is the primary language spoken on the Caribbean
islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. It is also well known by people in
Saba, St Eustatius and Sint Maarten islands.
It is a creole language based mainly in Portuguese, Spanish and African
languages as well as Amerindian languages (maybe Arawakan), English and
French. Dutch is a modern influence. But, Papiamento actually derived from
the Pidginized Portuguese spoken by Sephardic Jews and their slaves after
they fled Brazil, and from Spanish by Spaniards who came later in the 16th
and 17th century. Then, after the Dutch Empire got the ABC islands (Aruba,
Bonaire and Curaçao) from the Spanish, Dutch colonists also inserted many
Dutch words into Papiamento. Venezuelan Spanish is a constant influence
There are two orthographies: a more phonemic one (in Curaçao and Bonaire)
and one resembling Spanish (in Aruba). Most Papiamento vowels are based on
Ibero-Romance vowels, but some also based on Dutch vowels like : ee, ui,
ie, oe, ij, ei, oo and aa.
It is a tonal language, which is unusual in creoles and probably
influenced by African tones.
Many Papiamento speakers are also able to speak Dutch as official
language, English and Spanish. It is spoken with different accents on