baranka, buraku, buriku

I'm having trouble keeping these three words correct in my memory: baranka, buraku, buriku.

Sometimes I can remember buriku (donkey) by thinking of the Spanish word burro and then thinking of Riku, which is one of my nicknames.

Need to find a memory-hook for baranka (rock) and buraku (hole), something for the memory to hang its hat on.

Buraku probably comes from Portuguese buraco, but what’s the source of baranka?


uTalk HD app

EuroTalk has an iPhone-iPod-iPad app called uTalk HD. If you go to the App Store and search for Papiamento, it will be the only search result. It costs $9.99 in the US.

In this app you will see Papi words/phrases (Curaçao orthography) and hear them pronounced quickly but clearly. If you tap the same word two times, you will hear it spoken by a man and then by a woman, or vice versa. There are some rudimentary matching games that test your knowledge of the items that have been presented.

The vocabulary presented is pretty small, 275 words/phrases according to the official description, and somewhat tourist-oriented, which might not be a bad thing.


weather in Holland

From the Radio Netherlands website. Just a short, simple text, but every encounter with the language strengthens our vocabulary and grammar.

Wer na Hulanda: Awa ta yobe i ta pasa di parti nort di Hulanda pa parti sùit. Mèrdia ta seku i temperatura ta 15 grado. Bientu ta supla un tiki fuerte for di wèst. Den wikènt ta bira mas seku i solo lo bria.

Words I had to look up:

wer = weather
supla = to blow
bria = to shine (compare to Esperanto brilas)

wikènt (weekend) is a good example of voiced consonants at the ends of syllables becoming voiceless when words are borrowed into Papiamentu. Another example is wepsait (website)


músika: Tur Kos ta Posibel

Here is an uplifting song with its lyrics displayed on-screen:


a brief ghost story

Mi tin set. = I am thirsty.
kana keiru = walk around

Here is a very short ghost story – well, more like a report of a ghost, than an actual narrative – from the book Zumbi Spiritu Almasola by Pierre Lauffer (1975).

Parse ku den Sabana di Wespen tin un zumbi bisti tur na pretu, ta kana keiru tur anochi. Anto e ta sklama: “Mi tin set. Dunami poko awa.”

Obensio di Wespen ta kere ku ta un homber ku a kai muri den Sabana di Wespen.

Learn Papiamentu / Papiamento

This is a monthly message explaining the purpose of this blog. You are tuned to ‘Papiamentu tur dia,’ a resource for English-speakers who want to study or learn the language Papiamentu a.k.a. Papiamento.

You can use the categories (kategoria) visible on the right-hand side of the page to find posts about a particular topic. For example, information about pronouncing the language is in the ‘Pronunciation’ category.


dedicate a notebook to the language

Kumpra un skref spesial pa nos lenga nobo. Buy a special notebook for our new language. This is something I highly recommend. Go to the journals section of a bookstore, or go to an office supply store, and get something nice. Write down useful phrases, new words, interesting sentence patterns, as you encounter them. Perhaps make a note of the source or the context in which you found the information.

From the book How I Learn Languages by Kato Lomb:

This method, however, has a great advantage. It is you who have compiled the glossary — you have personal experiences associated with it. The terms on its pages crop up in your memory embedded in the context of your self. They recall the setting where you encountered them, the time, and sometimes even the mood in which they were jotted down.

I recommend untidy glossaries with all my heart to everyone. Neatly inscribed lines with uniform pearly letters are like desert landscapes. They mix together and make you sleepy; memory has nothing to cling to. We gain firm and steady footholds if we write with different instruments (pen, pencil, or colored pencils) in various styles (slanting, upright, small letters, capital letters, etc.). The advantage of a glossary, thus, is its personal nature.


link: NY Times article

In July the New York Times printed a nice article about Papiamento. “A Language Thrives in its Caribbean Home.”

TeleCuraçao did a TV news report about the article.


Papiamentu phrasebook: Getting Around…

Getting Around the Islands in Papiamentu is a fairly well written, modern phrasebook for tourists. It also includes bits of folklore and very brief explanations of grammar. See the description and order form at BonaireStuff dot com. (I have been told there is a PDF file of the phrasebook floating around on the internet.)


músika: No Wori

No Wori, a mellow song by Brian D. The lyrics are visible when you expand the description field of this YouTube video.


mixed feelings about the breakup

The six islands Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten used to be grouped together in a Dutch-controlled ‘autonomous country’ called the Netherlands Antilles. Aruba seceded in 1986 and became a separate country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

On October 10th of this year the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved. Curaçao and Sint Maarten became ‘countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.’ Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba each became a ‘special municipality.’

Many people are not thrilled about this reorganization. Norwin E. Leito, writing in the Bonaire Reporter, had this to say:

  In a way we could say that there was a certain feeling of funeral. It is not that there was never a fight between the islands. However, there was still a feeling of “we.” Now it feels as if the family has been torn apart.
  Everyone could see the beautiful fireworks in the sky. But one really could feel the nostalgia among the people. One guy tried to congratulate two other guys who were passing by. But they really did not appreciate this and they said that according to them there was no reason at all for congratulations. They even were ready to fight… There were even some people who could not hold their tears. I am one of those people to be honest. I feel that I have lost my brothers and sisters. In other words: the other islands.


link: Radio Netherlands

Brief news articles in Papiamentu are available at the Radio Netherlands website. You can also download MP3 files of their Papiamentu radio broadcasts. The address is www.rnw.nl/papiaments

Update written in 2016: Unfortunately Radio Nederlands was demolished by a shift in government policy circa 2011 and it is no longer a source of news audio or texts.


stress in Papiamentu

In this article, stress refers to pronouncing one syllable more loudly than the rest of a word. Papiamentu words have distinctive patterns of stress, as do words in English and many other languages.

In Papiamentu stress is indicated by a combination of changes in loudness, duration, and the actual quality of the vowel itself. Stressed vowels are about 2.5 decibels louder than the mean intensity of the entire sentence. The vowel of a stressed syllable has a longer duration than the vowel of an unstressed syllable: 114 milliseconds compared to 70 milliseconds on average.

Unstressed vowels are more centralized, in other words more schwa-like, than their stressed counterparts. For example, an unstressed i will be slightly more like the vowel in stick and less like the vowel in ski.

(The source of that information is an academic research paper: Stress, tone and discourse prominence in the Curaçao dialect of Papiamentu by Bert Remijsen and Vincent J. van Heuven.)

The following general rules are often given in textbooks and tutorial websites:

Normalmente, na papiamentu e énfasis di un palabra ta kai semper riba e último sílaba di un palabra ku ta kaba ku konsonante, òf riba e penúltimo sílaba di un palabra ku ta kaba ku vokal. (source: Wikipedia)

When a word ends with a vowel, the next-to-last syllable is stressed. Examples: lenga, palabra, papiamentu

When a word ends with a consonant, the final syllable is stressed. Examples: nashonal, popular

There are many exceptions.

In the Curaçao spelling system, exceptions are supposed to be marked with an acute accent: fásil, fonétiko, Perú. Naturally people who are typing or texting in a hurry omit these accents. The official spelling system of Aruba does not use accent marks to indicate stress.(source: www.papiamento.aw)

When the plural suffix -nan is added to a noun the stress does not move onto nan even though it ends with a consonant. For example, the u is stressed in both buki and bukinan.


músika: Ephrem J

Ephrem J sings very mellow songs ranging from slow ballads to funky soul numbers in Papiamentu and Spanish. Speransa, a collection of 6 songs in Papiamentu, was available from Amazon. (dead link)

Some of his YouTube videos:

Bolbe Dushi soul version

Imaginabu un Amor

Bida sin bo


book: Haiku in Papiamentu

reseña di buki, reposted from 2008-09-22

Haiku in Papiamentu is one of the few bilingual English-Papiamentu books available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk (ISBN 0888644108)

It features haiku by noted poet Elis Juliana with poetic (not literal) English translations by Hélène Garrett. A sample:

Difísil tende
gritu di stoma bashí
si di bo ta yen.

Easy to ignore
growls of an empty stomach
when your own is full.

A literal translation would have been:

Difficult (to) hear
scream of stomach empty
if yours is full.

And, by the way, that gives us approx 7 more words for our vocabulary…

bashí : empty (can also mean "broke" (penniless) according to Ratzlaff)
difísil : difficult, hard
gritu : a scream
si : if (note: sí = yes, si = if)
stoma : stomach
tende : hear
yen : full

exercise: Translate my stomach is full into Papiamentu.

Anyway, I think it's a good book for students to have: a collection of brief stand-alone Papiamentu texts with English translations.


an easily understood ketchup commercial

Via YouTube, here is a TV commercial featuring some simple and easily-heard Papiamentu phrases: Baby Tutu's ketchup commercial.


"PAPIAMENTU: a ray of hope"

Romanitas published a joyful article about the relative vitality of Papiamentu compared to most other creoles. PAPIAMENTU: a ray of hope among the creoles of the world by Víctor M. Vázquez-Colón.