Can We Talk in Aruba?

While Aruba has a mixture of languages, English is spoken well

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Languages in Aruba
 

Because Aruba was once a Dutch state of sovereignty, the island's official language is Dutch. No need to arrange a translator, however, because both English and Spanish are widely spoken. Not only are these two languages commonly heard around the island, visitors will also find locals have mastered accents and nuances of American speech.

Dutch has been the official language of the island for years as the island was a long time member of the Netherlands Antilles, and is now an independent state within the Dutch Kingdom, but Aruba has recognized English as an international language. This means children are required to learn English as early as the 4th grade. Aruba's location off the coast of South America has also made Spanish extremely important, and students begin learning this as early as 5th grade. French, however, is not a required language, though it is widely offered. At home, most Arubans speak the island's imported colloquial language of Papiamento.

Papiamento, a wild combination of Dutch, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, is the language originated in the trio of islands called the ABC islands. This language reflects their open-armed acceptance of other cultures. Papiamento was initially created in 16th century as a slave language that allowed slaves and slave owners to communicate. Papiamento's cadence is influenced by missionaries from Portugal and Spain as well as the native Arawaks.

This native language was not considered to be as important until 1995, and was officially added to school curriculum in the 1998 and 1999 school year on Aruba. Now visitors can find a Papiamento dictionary in bookstores, and fairy tales written in the language. However, remember that, like any language, there are variations in dialect between the three ABC islands, the only places in the world where Papiamento is the native tongue.

If you're up to it, below you'll find common Papiamento phrases to test on the locals:

Papiamento Phrases English Translation
Bon dia Good Morning
Bon tardi Good Afternoon
Bon nochi Good Night
Bon bini Welcome
Danki Thank you
Ajo Bye
Pasa un bon dia
Have a good day
Kwanto esaki ta costa
How much does this cost?
Mi ta wak rond
Looking, browsing
Bin aki
Come here.
Con ta bai How are you?
Mi ta bon I am fine.
kwan tor tin
What time is it?
Unda bo ta biba
Where do you live?
Ami me
Abo you
Nos tur All of us
boso All of you
nos dos The two of us
mi I or I am
Mi por papia Papiamento. I can speak Papiamento.
Mi stima Aruba. I love Aruba.
Mi kier I want
Pabien Congratulations
Very Good!
Hopi bon!
Quietly or slowly
Poco poco
See you later
Te aworo
Un sunchi
A kiss
Un braza
A hug
Mi dushi
My sweetheart
dushi 'om
Delicious or great
Ku tur mi amor
With all my love
Ranka Lenga
To french kiss
frei
A loved one
Mi amor
My love
ranka orea
To cheat on someone
hole dushi
Smells good
Hopi bon
Very good
Ban dal un trip
Let's go out on a trip
Banco
The Bank
Plaka
Money
Ki pelicula ta hunga awe?
What movie is playing today?
keds
Sneakers
sapato
Shoes
den caya
In the town
Mi tin sed
I'm thirsty
Mi tin hamber
I'm hungry
Ban kas
Let's go home
Botica Drugstore
ban sali
Let's go out
ban goza
Let's enjoy
tur kos ta bon
Everything is going well
ban sigi
Let's continue
ban come
Let's eat
awa
Water
awacero
Rain
lamper
Lightning
strena
Thunder
nubia
Cloud
lama
The beach, also the ocean
tera
Sand, also country
kunuku
The country side
den stad
In the city
na waf
At the port
brug
Bridge
cuminda
Food
pan
Bread
manteca
Butter
keshi
Cheese
Fish
Pisca
beleg
Cold cuts
lechi
Milk
soft or refresco
Soda
mangel
Sweets/candy
chupa bebe
A lollipop made in Aruba
pastechi
Similar to pate
suku
Sugar
salo
Salt
pika
Pepper


So, when you're out and about in Aruba, try your hand at a few native phrases, or just feel comfortable speaking any of the languages that are common on the island.

 

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