Lowlands-L Anniversary Celebration

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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Featured Guest Contributor:
Flag: Netherlands AntillesFlag: Curaçao Geraldine Anselma


Portrait of Reinhard F. HahnGeraldine Anselma contacted me in February 2007 from her native Curaçao. I knew right away that I was dealing with a very special person. Her love for Papiamentu was obvious, and I was impressed by her considerate and kind way of letting me know that my Papiamentu translation of the story was less than perfect. I was more than happy to have her retranslate the entire story. (Psst … Posting bad translations is the best way of getting someone to volunteer to do it properly.) In the course of our correspondence, Nina, as Geraldine is called by friends, turned out to be even nicer than I had thought at first. I proposed to feature her as a guest contributor because I believed she could serve as a model to anyone that loves and supports his or her language and thereby helps to make the world a more interesting, knowledgeable and peaceful place. Nina agreed. And here, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you … Geraldine Anselma!

Reinhard (“Ron”) F. Hahn

Portrait of Dante FerryThank you for the nice words, Ron!

I’ll tell you my side of the story …

I was kind of bored and started “googling” the web for “Papiamentu”. That’s when I came across this site where I saw this weird text about a chuchubi … It was strangely written and this made me very curious. Why did this person write this language the way he did? That’s why I contacted you in the first place…

I am a real “yu di Kòrsou.” This is what we people of Curaçao call ourselves. It means “child of Curaçao”.

I went to school on Curaçao, and after that I studied sociology at the University of Utrecht in Holland. Once finished, I immediately returned to Curaçao. However, I never worked in this field but became some sort of account manager for pension funds at a Dutch insurance company. At some point, they needed a translator for the marketing stuff and I discovered that I love to do translations from Dutch to Papiamentu and that I really do have a talent for this!

But, at that time I didn’t know all the Papiamentu writing rules that well.

Papiamentu is the first language I heard and the first language I spoke … sadly enough not the first language I wrote … In my schooldays we didn’t learn Papiamentu in school. All classes were in Dutch. Today the kids learn the language in school, but most people of my generation and older never did.

That’s why people still write the language as they please, and nobody really thinks of this as a problem. Maybe that’s kind of cool too …

Anyway, I took a course and that’s where my love for my language really emerged!

Today, I do most translations for my employer and sometimes also for other people, besides my daily work. It is like a hobby for me and it also pays well … But I also love dogs, fitness, walking, swimming and dancing salsa…!

Papiamentu means “talking”, and Papiamentu is beautiful!

It has difficult, easy and funny parts! Compared to a lot of other languages It deals easily with time (past, present & future), but it also has like 29 possible accents when pronouncing words! One word can have 3 different meanings, depending on how it is pronounced!

Example of time:
Kome (= to eat)
Mi ta kome. (= I am eating.)
Mi a kome. ( = I ate.)
Mi tabata kome. (= I was eating.)

Example of accents:
Mi ta rabiá. (= I am angry.)
Mi ta rabia. (= I will become angry.)
Mi ta sinti rabia. (= I feel angry.)

The last two rabia are written the same way but are pronounced differently!

Another difficult and funny part is that all fluent speakers swallow words! These many “contractions” at times make it very difficult for a student/learner to understand what is being said. You can’t learn all of these contractions from books! You only learn these from being frequently among fast fluent speakers!!

Portrait of Hannelore Hinz getting dressed as Treckfiedel-Hanne
“Bon bini, maestra!”—
Geraldine is being welcomed by an
admiring local during a trip to
neighboring Venezuela.

Example of contractions:

Mi a wak e kos ei ayera. (= I saw that yesterday.)
Fast fluent speaker: “M’a wak e koi ayera.”

Mi no tabata tei. (= I wasn’t there.)
Fast fluent speaker: “Min’ ta’ tei.”

Mi sa. (= I know.)
Mi no sa. (= I don’t know.)
Fast fluent speaker: “Min’ sa.” (= I don’t know.)

It seems to be difficult for a student to hear the difference between mi sa and “min’ sa”!

There are lots of funny examples, for instance of words that become “dirty” words if pronounced incorrectly! This always causes funny situations.

Finally … I don’t know … I always find myself analyzing words and language in everyday life … I think that’s because … how easily you manage to go through life depends in large part on how well you can use words to defend yourself …

Mi ta stima Papiamentu!
I love Papiamentu!

Geraldine’s translation: Papiamentu
Indroduction to the language: Papiamentu