word of the day: loke

The English word "what" has several different translations into Papiamentu depending on whether it is an interrogative word or a relative pronoun.

"What" can also have an important but seldom-discussed linking function as in I know what you did. In these latter cases "what" can usually by replaced by "that which…" or "the thing which…" And in these cases the Papiamentu equivalent appears to be loke.

Some examples from various sources:

Ya bo sa loke bo ke.
You already know what you want.

Loke mi ke bira: bombero.
What I want to become: fireman.

No yora ora bo no por hasi loke nan sí ta hasi.
Don't weep when you cannot do what they can do.


bira = become
bombero = firefighter
hasi = do, make, engage in
ke = want
ora = when (in the linking sense of "when", not the interrogative sense)
por = be able to
sa = know
ya = already
yora = weep, cry



the anniversary of Papiamento literature

On 27 September 1905 J.S. Corsen's poem “Atardi” was published in a newspaper called La Cruz. This was, apparently, the first time a piece of secular creative writing in Papiamentu had ever rolled off a printing press.

You can read it (with a Dutch translation) under this link.

Prior to the appearance of “Atardi,” the Dutch government had denigrated Papiamentu (and it continued doing so until the riots of 1969). Children were forbidden to speak Papiamentu while at school. Dutch officials often expressed their belief that Papiamentu was a lesser form of language, unfit for use in education or official activities.

After “Atardi” appeared, more and more Papiamentu speakers began to realize the beauty and potential of their language. The number of poems, songs, plays and stories published in Papiamentu began to gradually increase, year after year.


web navigation phrases

Pa bira miembro klik aki.
To become a member, click here.

Klik aki pa mas informashon.
Click here for more information.

primi riba e konopi "send"
Press the "send" button.

kambia kontraseña
change password



a fragment of poetry

I spent a great deal of time last night trying to understand a fragment of a Pierre Lauffer poem that I found online. I'm just a beginning student so I really should not be tackling poetry yet; it's way over my head. But I was in the mood for a challenge. Here is the fragment:

Kaminda chapi kai for di mi man,
i sigui bòltu tera gordo,
planta, kuida, kosechá
e lenga dardu di nos mama.

Alongside this fragment was a Dutch translation which I ran through Google's automated translator to serve as a starting point. I'm not sure what lant’é means in this context. The Dutch version has pak ’m op which Google translates as get 'em. Maybe the meaning in this situation is "pick it up"?

There are other uncertainties here: the meaning of tera gordo, the combination sigui bòltu, and the meaning of the last line. The Dutch translation contains onze dartele moedertaal. So, my tentative understanding of this fragment at this point is:

Where the hoe falls from my hand,
and turn over the fat (potent?) earth,
plant and tend and harvest
the language unruly of our mother. (Our rowdy mother-tongue?)

Hopefully I will be able to look at this a year from now and understand it better.



Here's some vocabulary from a fragment of a poem that I was trying to read last night.

for di = out of, from, away from
kai = to fall
kaminda = where, in the place which...
man = hand
sigui = to follow
tera = earth

sigui gives us the adjective siguiente meaning "following, consecutive." I suppose siguiente is sometimes a good translation for the English word "next."

Some examples of siguiente found on the web:

anto e siguiente luna
before the following month

bo por sa e kontesta riba e kuater siguiente preguntanan
you can know the answers to the four following questions

E dia siguiente nos a bishita "la escuela de maestro".
The next day we visited la escuela de maestro.



sintibo liber

I became curious about the phrase sintibo liber, "feel free (to)," so I googled it. Here are four sentences containing the phrase. See if you can read them without any help. My attempts to translate them into English are down at the bottom of this blog entry.

Note: the first sentence uses the Aruban spelling expresa instead of the Curaçaoan ekspresá.

1. Sintibo liber pa expresa bo mes.

2. Sintibo liber pa duna bo opinion.

3. I si bo ke pa hasi kontakto personal, sintibo liber.

4. Sintibo liber pa kombersa kwalkier topiko interesante na Papiamentu.


spoiler space



1. Feel free to express yourself.

2. Feel free to give your opinion.

3. And if you want to make personal contact, feel free.

4. Feel free to converse (about) any interesting topic in Papiamentu.



some introductory phrases

When introducing a friend to a third party, someone might say:

Pèrmiti-mi presentá mi amigu Mario.

If one were introducing a colleague one could say:

Pèrmiti-mi presentá mi kolega, señor Martin Erikson.

The third party might say something like:

Ta un plaser. or Muchu gustu.

(roughly equivalent to English nice to meet you or it's a pleasure). A more formal response would be

Kontentu di sera konosí ku señor Erikson.

(based on information in Basiscursus Papiaments)

Well then, we have a few more words for the vocabulary.

kontentu : glad, contented
plaser : pleasure
pèrmiti-mi : allow me to
presentá : to present
amigu : friend
kolega : colleague, co-worker

Papiamentu has a few nouns that change their final vowel to indicate a person's gender. Amigu is a male friend and amiga is a female friend. But kolega is a colleague of either gender.

muchu gustu : "much enjoyment" or "very happy to be doing (whatever)". Another example: Ku muchu gustu nos ta presentá e promé edishon. "We are very pleased to present the first edition."

The examples of muchu gustu that I've seen to date give the impression that it is mainly used when meeting or introducing people or presenting things to an audience; but I could be wrong about that.

sera konosí : "become acquainted with." Another example: laga nan sera konosí ku su naturalesa i historia, "let them get acquainted with its nature and history."