Papiamento is a language spoken in the ABC islands, that is Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. These are collectively known as the Netherlands Antilles. The language is also spoken in the Netherlands by immigrants from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. About 330,000 people speak this language. It is a Creole language that has elements of Spanish, Dutch, English, Arawak, French, Portuguese and some African languages. Papiamento is the official language used in the Netherlands Antilles, alongside Dutch, which is the primary written language. Papiamento is mainly an oral language, even though there are some newspapers and magazines which have been written using Papiamento. There is no standard writing system for Papiamento. This has resulted in differences in the way the language is spoken and written in various islands. The spelling system used in Aruba leans more towards Spanish than the spelling system used in other islands. Words are normally pronounced exactly the same way they are written.
Most Papiamento speakers are multilingual. In Aruba, most people can speak English, Dutch, Spanish and Papiamento fluently. A lot of people also speak German and French. This has resulted in the borrowing of words by native speakers among the languages. Government and official documents are usually written in Dutch and Papiamento. These two languages are also used as the languages of instruction in schools. Dutch is used because Aruba is a Dutch colony. Children are expected to start learning English by the time they get to the 4th grade. This is because English is recognized as an international language. Spanish is also taught in schools from the 5th grade. This is because the islands are just located off the South American continent, where Spanish is widely used. French is taught in high schools as an optional language.
Papiamento is a rhythmic language, with a small number of vocabularies. It has 2 main dialects. These are the Papiamento dialect, mainly spoken in Aruba, and the Papiamentu dialect, primarily spoken in Curacao and Bonaire. The difference in the two dialects is evident in the spellings of the language dialects. Most words in the Papiamento dialect end with the word ‘o’, while most words in Papiamentu end with the letter ‘u’.