text: Aruba transfixed by US election

This easy-to-read text in the Aruba variety of the language (from the newspaper Diario) tells of businesses closing early, traffic disappearing from the streets, and tourists scurrying back to their hotel rooms as all the people on Aruba, residents and visitors alike, were unable to think about or do anything other than watch the results of the US presidential election on Tuesday night.


Cu Arubianonan ta hopi conciente di loke ta pasando na Merca, a keda demostra Diamars riba e isla aki. E enfoke di tur hende tabata pa mira ki rumbo e eleccion presidencial na Merca a tuma, y remarcablemente pa prome biaha esaki a worde nota hasta riba caya!

Atardi ora cu tur trahador tabata rumbo pa cas, e prome prioridad den nan mente ta pa yega y cende TV pa mira con e bataya entre Barack Obama y John McCain ta cristaliza. Turistanan na gran cantidad a keda den nan camber di Hotel pa mira tur cos na TV.

Ya for di 8'or di anochi caba, por a mira un reduccion drastico di auto coriendo rond na Aruba. Varios restaurant a cera nan porta trempan, y trahadornan ya pa 10'or tabata na cas, pa asina mira con Barack Obama a bira e President nobo di Merca.

The complete article was here. (Dead link.)


passive voice in Papiamentu

Most creoles do not have a special word or suffix to indicate the passive voice of verbs. They require you to say “somebody stole my bicycle” rather than “my bicycle was stolen.” And that’s fine; it works okay and it’s one less grammar rule to learn.

According to the sources of information at my disposal, spoken Papiamentu is the same way. The passive voice is uncommon in spontaneous conversation.

Written Papiamentu is very different, and very unusual for a creole language: it has several different ways to express the passive voice:

1) using wòrdu, which is also sometimes written as wordu, worde, wordo, etc.

E hòmber a wòrdu detené ayera.
The man was arrested yesterday.

2) using ser

Sosiedat di Kòrsou a ser transformá radikalmente ora e refineria a ser trahá.
Curaçao society was radically transformed when the refinery was opened.

The Spanish version of Goilo’s textbook gives these paradigms:

e carta ta ser skirbí : the letter is being written
e carta ta skirbí : the letter is (has been) written

3) using keda

Esaki lo keda tratá awe mainta.
This will be handled/dealt-with/addressed this morning.

In an analysis of a large body of texts, linguists have found that all three forms (wordu, ser, keda) are equally popular in Curaçao. Aruba seems to prefer wordu and ser.

Some purists such as Antoine Maduro intensely hate the wordu and ser passives, viewing them as non-creole monstruonan (monstrosities):

worde hañá – C. a worde hañá morto na Amsterdam – E redaktor akí ta skirbi barbaridat akí den su korant; ma na su kas e ta bisa: nan a haña C. morto na Amsterdam.

translation: worde hañá – C was found dead in Amsterdam – The editor writes this barbarity here in his newspaper but at home he says ‘they found C dead in Amsterdam’



more notes on Goilo's Textbook

Continuing now with a tour of E.R. Goilo's Papiamentu Textbook. Di cincu les starts with an introduction to elision/sandhi, the changes that Papiamentu makes to its words to cause them to flow more smoothly.

When the direct object of a verb is the pronoun e (he/she/it), the last vowel of the verb is often deleted and the e gets glued onto the verb. Goilo explains the system this way:

“In the case of verbs ending in a, lose a.”

Mi ta tum’é , mi ta cumpr’é

“The verbs ending in e are pronounced with stress on the last e.”

Mi ta com’é , mi ta beb’é

“The verbs ending in i retain this i.”

Mi ta skirbié , mi ta pidié

“Instead of the pronoun é, you may hear the old form ele, e.g. tum’ele, com’ele, skirbiele, etc.”

Sentences like I give it to him are handled this way:

instead of mi ta duna é é “we write and pronounce it mi ta dun’élé (both é's are stressed).”

to be continued…