Papiamentu Facts

The name "Papiamentu" comes from
the word papia which means 'to speak'

Papia is the Papiamentu verb for 'to speak' and -mentu is the suffix that forms a noun, meaning approximately 'the way of doing something'. Papiamentu translated would then be something like 'the way of speaking'.

The verbs papia or papea are also found in other Creole languages such as the Cape Verdean creole, Guiné-Bissau creole and Saramaccan. It is probably derived from the Portuguese verb papear 'to chatter', which in turn probably goes back to the French verb papier 'to stammer' or simply 'to speak'. Connections have been made between the French papier and the Egyptian/Arabic papiros, e.g. 'to read from papyrus'.

Papiamento is another way to spell Papiamentu. Sometimes the noun forming morpheme -mentu is spelled -mento like it is done in Spanish and Portuguese.

In the Papiamentu of Bonaire the equivalent to the noun forming suffix -mentu/o is -men (this is one similarity between Provençal and Bonairen Papiamentu). Thus, the Bonairen name for Papiamentu is Papiamen.


This page has been created in June 1998 by Attila Narin <attila@narin.com> and was
last updated on June 6, 1998. Copyright © 1998 Attila Narin. All Rights Reserved.