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What Language is Spoken in Curaçao? — All You Need to Know

What Language is Spoken in Curaçao? — All You Need to Know

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Have you ever wondered what language people speak in Curaçao?

This beautiful Caribbean island has a diverse linguistic landscape that you might find fascinating. 

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!


What Language do People Speak in Curaçao?

People speak Papiamento in Curaçao, which is an official language alongside Dutch and English. Dutch is mainly used in governmental and legal contexts, while English is widely spoken and heavily used in tourism. 


🌍 What’s a Creole Language, Anyway? 🌍

Think of a Creole language as the ultimate mashup playlist, blending tunes from different languages to create something totally fresh and unique. It usually happens when people from diverse language backgrounds need to talk to each other but don’t have a common language. The result? A brand-new language that’s got its own flair, rhythm, and rules. It’s the language world’s way of saying, “Hey, let’s all get along!”


Curaçao — Official Languages

Languages Spoken in Curaçao

Official Languages of CuraçaoMain Usage
PapiamentoDaily life, spoken by locals
DutchUsed in legal settings
EnglishTourism, international business

Curaçao is known for its multicultural society. This diversity is reflected in the island’s languages.

While Papiamento and English are the most commonly spoken, Dutch is mainly used in governmental, legal, and administrative contexts.

English is taught in school and is widely used in tourism and international business.

Spanish is frequently used due to tourism and proximity to other countries.

Papiamento is not only spoken in Curaçao but also on Aruba and Bonaire. Together, these three islands are commonly known as the ABC Islands


The Origins of Papiamento

Papiamento, sometimes also written Papiamentu, has a rich history. 

It is a Creole language that incorporates elements from Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African languages.

Initially developed as a pidgin language for communication between different communities, it has now evolved into a fully developed language.

Let us now have a closer look at how Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African Languages helped to shape Papiamento.

We will stick to vocabulary only, as we don’t want to make things too complicated:

Language SourceVocabulary in Source LanguagePapiamento Vocabulary
Yoruba (Nigeria)yanga (to nurture)yanga
Ewe (Ghana)dushi (sweet/nice)dushi
Kikongo (Congo)tutu (a type of food)tutu
Pidgin vs. Creole

What is a pidgin language? A pidgin language is a simplified form of speech formed between two or more groups of people who do not have a language in common. It’s like a ‘starter’ language! On the other hand, a creole is what happens when a pidgin becomes stable and complex enough to be considered a ‘full’ language. In short, think of a pidgin as the baby version that grows up to become a creole!


Papiamento Language Words

Understanding basic vocabulary is your first step into the fascinating world of Papiamento, the heart and soul of Curacao’s language landscape.

This table provides you with essential Papiamento words and their English equivalents, perfect for beginners or travelers planning to visit Curacao.

Whether you want to greet a local or express gratitude, these key phrases will come in handy.

Bon diaGood Morning
Bon biniWelcome
DankiThank you
Por faborPlease
Con ta bai?How are you?
Kon yama bo?What is your name?
Mi nomber ta...My name is...
Di unda bo ta?Where are you from?
Mi ta di...I'm from...
Un placer di konose boNice to meet you!
Mi stima boI love you

Dutch Influence in Curaçao

Dutch is the official language and it is primarily used in government, legal processes, and formal education.

While not as commonly spoken as Papiamento in daily life, Dutch holds a position of importance due to Curaçao’s status as a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Curaçao — The Role of English and Spanish

English and Spanish have significant roles in Curaçao. They are taught in schools and are essential for tourism and international business.

  • English: Widely understood and spoken, especially in tourist areas
  • Spanish: Its proximity to South America makes Spanish a commonly spoken language


Curaçao demonstrates that a rich diversity of languages can be spoken and experienced even in a small place.

The same could also be said about Switzerland. Find out more about that in our article: “What’s spoken in Switzerland?


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the official language of Curaçao?

Curaçao has three official languages: Papiamento, English, and Dutch. Papiamento is the most widely spoken language, English is mainly used in tourism, and Dutch is primarily used in legal and administrative contexts. 


Do people in Curaçao speak English?

Many people in Curaçao speak English, particularly in tourist areas and in settings involving international business.


Is Papiamento similar to Spanish?

Papiamento incorporates elements of Spanish but is a distinct Creole language with influences from Portuguese, Dutch, and African languages.


How many languages are commonly spoken in Curaçao?

Four languages are commonly spoken in Curaçao: Papiamento, Dutch, English, and Spanish.


Can tourists get by with English in Curaçao?

Tourists can generally get by with English in Curaçao, especially in areas that cater to visitors.