Papiamento is a Caribbean creole language spoken by just under 400.000 people on the islands on Aruba, Bonaire, CuraÃ§ao, and Sint Eustatius. It is a fusion of primarily Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch languages, although influences from native Arawak languages, English and African can be seen. Unlike most other creoles (especially fromt he Caribbean) Papiamento is a tonal language, showing remnants of its African History.
While the exact history of Papiamento is unknown, it is thought that is began as an Portuguese-African pidgin language that developed from the need for communication amongst slave owners in Africa. Portugal had many posts set up along the entire African coast for slave trading. These slaves were sent to the Americas and the Caribbean. The language became a common way for everyone to communicate, and evolved into the everyday language that we now know as Papaimento.
There are two variations of Papiamento. In Aruba, it is best known as Papiamento, in Bonaire and CuraÃ§ao it is known as Papiamentu. While the regional differences between Papiamentu in Bonaire and CuraÃ§ao are minor, the differences between Papiamento and Papiamentu are greater. Papiamento and Papiamentu are mutually intelligible, and the differences aren't unlike those between American English and British English. Papiamentu is more phonetic, whereas Papiamento is orthographic. As visible in the spelling of the name of the language, nouns in Papiamentu typically end in -u, and in Papiamento in -o. Also, where "k" is used in Papiamentu, "c" is used in Papiamento.
Because of strong influences from Portuguese and Spanish, there is some degree of mutual intelligibility amongst these languages. Aruban Papiamento sounds very similar to Spanish, with just a much more simplified grammar. As with most creoles, Papiamento does not conjugate verbs, inflect adjectives, differentiate between genders, or have a definitive way to show plurality. The following are some examples of Papiamento phrases :
Bon dia! Good morning!
Por fabor Please
Danki Thank you
Mi por a hanja un ... Can I please have a ...
Mi ta papia [ingles] I speak [English].
Min ta papia [papiamento] I don't speak Papiamento.
Mi kier ... I want ...
Mi ta stimabo I love you.
Con ta bai? How are you?
Mi ta bon I am good.
Mi nomber ta ... My name is ...
Verbal constructions in Papiamento are very straight forward. They follow the pattern Subject pronoun + Tense marker + Verb. Below is a table of the Subject pronouns :
Mi ta come pan. I am eating bread.
Bo a drumi tur anochi. You slept all night.
Nos tawata bai cas. We were going home.
While use of the language will probably not come in very handy for use outside of the Caribbean, locals from all the islands will be happy to hear you speaking, or at least trying to speak their local language!