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Old Wednesday, March 26th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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LocaLisa LocaLisa is offline
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Default Nos Idioma Papiamento

When and where was our language, Papiamento, born? There is no definite answer to this question, nor proof of how it started or where it originated from.

There is some text that indicates that Papiamento already existed in the early 18th century in Curacao and at the end of that same century in Aruba. The oldest text in Papiamento is a letter from the year 1775 written by a Jewish gentleman from Curacao. In Aruba, the oldest document in Papiamento that dates back to the year 1803. This was a legal declaration by 26 natives (referred to as Indians popularly) made to back-up Commander Pieter Specht in a court procedure.

This means that Papiamento already exists 250 to 300 years, even though the majority of authors who wrote about the origin of Papiamento believes that Papiamento, or the basis of it, exists even longer than that.

There are several theories about the origin of Papiamento. Even though the different authors who wrote about Papiamento have their own variation of one or the other theory, they can generally be split into 2 groups.

One group of authors defend the theory that, Papiamento, just like other Creole languages spoken in the Caribbean, was born from the Afro-Portuguese originating from the African West Coast. They call this the Monogenetic Theory. Some authors who defend the Monogenetic idea are Hans van Wijk, Rodolfo Lenz and Frank Martinus Arion, who promoted this theory in 1997. They say that this language took form in the 17th century when Africans were enslaved and transported to several islands in the Caribbean from the African West Coast. It helped the European enslavers in their communication with locals. After crossing the Atlantic, the language continued to develop and resulted in several Creole languages dominated by the official language of the island it was spoken on, for instance more dominated by English in Jamaica and in Haiti by French. For Papiamento this theory implicates that it came from the Afro-Portuguese which later developed into Spanish/Portuguese.

The other group contradicts the Monogenetic Theory, saying that Papiamento resulted from the need for communication between the Spanish and the natives after the colonization of the ABC islands in 1500 by the Spanish. This is called the Polygenetic Theory. Authors like Antoine Maduro, Jose Pedro Rona and Jossy Mansur state that Papiamento developed originally from the merging of Spanish and the Native language. Antoine Maduro says that not because a word sounds Portuguese it in fact originated from Portuguese. According to him, many words from a Spanish dialect of the 16th century (Gallego) have a similar sound to Portuguese. The fewer quantity of words in Papiamento that indeed originated from Portuguese are due to the Portuguese speaking Jews who immigrated to Curacao in the 17th century and later to Aruba in the 18th century.

Papiamento and Religion
The majority of natives in Aruba after colonization were Roman Catholic, due to Spanish priests who visited regularly to convert the natives from their “heathen” religion (s) to Christianity. Some Dutch priests converted the natives to become Protestants. The first 2 churches that date from that time are the Alto Vista Chapel (1750) and the St. Anna Church (1777) in Noord.

The oldest book written in Papiamento in Aruba was for the Protestants by reverend Kuiperi. It was printed in Curacao in 1862. It’s known that before that though, there was a preaching document from 1847, written by hand by a teacher in the Protestant belief, Abraham van Dragt.

Publications in Papiamento
In Curacao, which has a greater population than Aruba and Bonaire, there were many publications in Papiamento taking place at that time. Preacher Niewindt published the first book in Papiamento in 1825. It was about Catechism. While the Catholic mission was to stay in charge of educate the slaves, there were also books for schooling in Papiamento. This is why priest Putman strived to have his own printer to be able to publish his own material for school. In 1874 bishop Van Ewijk published the first grammar book in Papiamento, followed by a dictionary of Dutch-Papiamento-Spanish the next year.

Newspapers in Papiamento
There were several newspapers published in Papiamento in Curacao. The first was "Civilisado" which was published from 1871 to 1875. Amigoe, came later in 1884, was originally in Dutch and Papiamento. Besides these, there were other newspaper completely in Papiamento like "La Union" (1889-1897 and reborn 1922) and "La Cruz" (1900-1970).

Teaching in Papiamento
In the majority of Catholic schools in Curacao, children were being taught in Papiamento. The government schools taught in Dutch, but around 1900 they concluded that teaching in Dutch was not successful. There were several discussions regarding what language to use for instruction in schools. Teachers, Priests and members of the Dutch Parliament were propagating to use Papiamento for tutoring. There were also several suggestions for bilingual teaching. The proposal of Hamelberg in 1897 was to teach in Papiamento the first 4 years of schooling and to teach Dutch in the last 2 years of primary school. His saying was that the children must learn to read and write in their own language before learning another foreign language. After some years of discussion, the decree of 1935 came in vigor: all schools on the ABC islands that came in observation to receive Government financial backing were to use Dutch as the only language for tutoring. This put an end to teaching in Papiamento.

Nowadays the circumstances are a bit different. There are a numerous newspapers and books in Papiamento in Aruba. Papiamento became the official language, and it is widely used for teaching. Internationally there are a couple of linguists that are investigating Papiamento as Language. However, after all the latest positive developments after 300 years of struggle, we have to wait and evaluate if we are satisfied with the course in which our native language, Papiamento, is going in Aruba.

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Old Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, 09:28 AM
jawz jawz is offline
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Default Re: Nos Idioma Papiamento

LocaLisa, Excellent post
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Old Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, 05:52 PM
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lizzardo lizzardo is offline
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Default Re: Nos Idioma Papiamento

also this forum has some lessons:

Aruba Forums at Visit Aruba - FAQ: Papiamento Lessons

Also good books to get are (at Samson)
mi prome diccionario (a kid's first picture dictionary)
the Papiamento dictionary by Jossy Mansur
* there is another dictionary we found there
but it is more curacao Papiamento rather than
aruban Papiamento which is different.
A little green book with phrases in Papiamento

I accidentally packed my Papiamento books and
can't find them right now but all are good books to have.
Sorry I don't have the name of the green book!
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