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We communicate in several languages, including English, but it’s the unique rhythm of Papiamento that will charm you.
Dutch and the local language of Papiamento are the official languages of Aruba, but most Arubans speak a minimum of four languages, including English and Spanish.
Papiamento embodies the friendliness for which the local population is known. The inclusive and open nature of the native tongue is reflected in its unique sayings and mannerisms.
Unique to the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, Papiamento evolved from a rudimentary pidgin language — used for communication among peoples with different native tongues — into the more complex language it is today. The root of the language is an Afro-Portuguese Creole, which has developed a syntax and lexicon over the years, with increased borrowings from Dutch, English and Spanish while still retaining its own unique rhythm and meanings.
Evidence of its first widespread use can be observed in official documents from Curaçao from the early 18th century. Throughout the middle of the 19th century, Papiamento was the language of choice for written texts, including Roman Catholic hymnals and schoolbooks. The first Papiamento-language newspaper soon followed, with the apt moniker of Civilisado (The Civilizer) in 1871. Papiamento was used as the language of instruction in schools until Dutch subsidies came with the stipulation that lessons be taught solely in Dutch. However, Papiamento has recently been reintroduced into the local educational system.
Although in use as the native language for over 300 years, Papiamento was only declared an official Aruban language, alongside Dutch, on March 19, 2003.
Bon bini! = Welcome!
Bon dia. / Bon tardi. / Bon nochi. = Good morning. / Good afternoon. / Good evening.
Con ta bai? = How are you?
Mi ta bon! = I am well!
Danki. = Thank you.
Aruba ta dushi! = Aruba is lovely!
One of the best things about the number of languages spoken in Aruba is that you’ll always have someone to chat with. Whether your native language is English, Dutch, Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian or something completely different, the chances are you will meet an Aruban who can communicate with you easily. Arubans are especially fluent in Papiamento and Dutch, as these are the official Aruban languages. If you don’t yet know these languages, perhaps you will make a friend who can teach you during you next trip to the One happy island.