How to Speak Papiamento

Willamstad Curaçao
Curaçao is never short of colour.

Curaçao is a colourful Dutch island located just north of Venezuela in the Caribbean. Known for its beautiful beaches tucked into coves and expansive coral reefs rich with marine life, this island is one that isn’t as commonly known as others but a gem once you discover it. I’ve travelled to Curaçao twice now and have loved this island for different reasons each time.

Curaçao Ocean View
Yes, the water is that clear and beautiful.

The Dutch influence on Curaçao is widely present since establishing themselves as the island’s ruling class in 1634. Today, several thousand Dutch people have made Curaçao their permanent home. While Dutch is the official language of the country and remains the language of instruction in schools and is widely spoken in government and business, the island is also the birthplace of Papiamento – a Creole language combined of Spanish, Portuguese, African, Dutch and Arawak Indian and has evolved much over the years. In fact, while Dutch is the official language, Papiamento is the most common.

How to Speak Papiamento

Now, there is one world in Papiamento that you will quickly learn upon arriving in Curaçao, and that is Dushi. Dushi means sweet or sweetie. This is used in the sense of pan dushi (sweet bread), dushi Korsou (sweet Curacao), but also as common word between young friends when greeting one and other saying, “Eeeeey dushi” aka, “hi darling.” Its also used by males to express their interest in an unknown female passing by.

Whenever someone asks me, “What is an important thing for me to know before travelling to ______,” one of my responses is to learn a few common phrases in the language of the country you are travelling to. So, for those of you heading to Curaçao, that could mean learning a bit of Dutch, Spanish, English or Papiamentu, since all are spoken. For me, Papiamento seems like it may be the most impressive language of the 4 to learn. Here are some phrases you can practise before heading over to the island of Curaçao:


Good morning: Bon dia

Good afternoon: Bon tardi

Good evening: Bon nochi

How are you: Con ta bai

I’m very good: Hopi bon

I’m fine: Mi ta bon

Pleased to meet you: Contento di mira bo

Goodbye: Ayo

See you later: Te aworo

Thank you: Danki

Thank you very much: Masha danki

You’re welcome: Di nada

Please: Por fabor

Excuse me: Diskulpami

Sorry: Sori

What’s your name: Con jamabo

My name is: Mi nomber ta

Where are you from? Foi unda bo ta?

I’m from: Mi ta foi

Where is the washroom: Unda e baño ta?



Eastside of the island/East of Willemstad: Bandariba

Westside of the island/West of Willemstad: Bandabou or Otrobanda

Beach: Playa

Rural little developped area: Kunuku

Rural undevelopped area: mondi –

Drugstore: Botika



0 zero, nul, nada

1 un

2 dos

3 tres

4 kwater

5 sinku

6 seis

7 shete

8 ocho

9 nuebe

10 dies

11 diesun

12 diesdos

13 diestres

14 diescuater

15 diescincu

20 binti

30 trinta

40 cuarenta

50 cincuenta

60 sesenta

70 setenta

80 ochenta

90 nobenta

100 cien

1000 mil


Days of the Week

Sunday: Dia domingu

Monday: Dia luna

Tuesday: Dia mars

Wednesday: Dia rason

Thursday: Diaweps

Friday: Diabièrne

Saturday: Dia sabra



January: Januari

February: Feruari

March: Maart

April: April

May: Mei

June: Juni

July: Juli

August: Augustus

September: September

October: Ooctober

November: November

December: December


Shopping & Dining

How much does this cost: Kwanto esaki ta costa

Money: Plaka

I’m thirsty: Mi tin sed

I’m hungry: Mi tin hamber

Let’s eat: Ban come

Water: Awa

Pastechi: Pastry filled with cheese

Pastechi keshi: Pastry filled with tuna, meat or vegetables

Bread: Pan

Local cornbread: Funchi

Stew: Stóba

Goat: Kabritu

Type of Fish: Múla

Lemonade made from limes, with ice added to make it a lime slush puppy. The most refreshing drink on the island: Awa lamoenchi/limoenchi

Fruit based smoothie, sold in little stalls across the island: Batido

Do you speak more than one language? Let us know which ones below and how you learned.



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