The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel
Presentation at the ACBLPE (Association of Portuguese and Spanish-Lexified Creoles) Annual Meeting. Stockholms Universitet. Stockholm, Sweden. June 13-15, 2017
Conference programme
Conference website
Abstracts (pages 24-25)


The multifunctionality of Papiamentu pa and its similarities with Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese

The Papiamentu (PA) lexical item pa can cover several functions, operating as preposition, mood marker and complementizer. Its functions actually clearly exceed those of its equivalent Portuguese lexical item para, not only covering the semantic load of para, but also that of por and a. An equivalent multifunctionality for this lexical item can also be found in other Portuguese-based creole languages like the Upper Guinea Portuguese Creoles (cf. Jacobs, Origins of a Creole) and the Asian Portuguese creole Papiá Kristang. When analysing the PA lexical item pa, Lefebvre and Therrien (On the properties of Papiamentu pa: Synchronic and diachronic perspectives, 2007) establish that it can perform fifteen different functions. Out of those, they only find five that have an equivalent realisation in current standard Portuguese. Lefebvre and Therrien believe that PA pa is derived from Portuguese para, and that its other properties would be derived from corresponding lexical entries in the PA substrate languages, more specifically from the properties of the Fongbe preposition and complementizer , and the mood marker and complementizer . However, when Brazilian Portuguese, and especially Brazilian Vernacular Portuguese (BVP) is considered, the degree of equivalence with the PA functions of pa changes dramatically. The aims of this presentation are to show the high degree of similarity that exists between PA and BVP when it comes to the functions of PA pa, and to make considerations as to why this sharp discrepancy exists if compared to the results found by Lefebvre and Therrien for current standard PT. Apart from that, the secondary aim is to ponder why this multifunctionality and equivalence in some functions can also be found in Papiá Kristang, a Portuguese-based creole from another branch that is knowingly not directly related to PA or to the West African Portuguese-based creoles.


Translating the Presence of Portuguese in a Caribbean Creole

Translating the Presence of Portuguese in a Caribbean Creole. Why are there similarities between an Asian Portuguese Creole and Papiamentu?

Marco APicture. Schaumloeffel

Presentation at the Translating Creolization Symposium – May 27-29, 2015. The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados

Website of the event:


Papiamentu (PA) is a creole spoken as main language by the majority of the population in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, and is official language in the first and in the latter. The origin of PA is controversial; a group of scholars attributes it to Spanish, due to its current lexical and phonetic similarities with Spanish, whereas another group sees linguistic genetic ties with Portuguese.

The aim of this presentation is to investigate the historical and linguistic links that might connect PA to Portuguese. Whereas historical links set the stage for eventual ties, possible grammatical commonalities in the very fabric that makes up the structure of PA may be strong indications of a genetic connection to its ancestor. Recent historical and linguistic evidence suggests that PA owes its origins to the West African Portuguese creoles. To further strengthen this evidence, this presentation will analyse key grammar elements such as function words, relators, verbal system and Time-Modality-Aspect markers, which are core elements and very strong indications of genetic ties, given their very low borrowability in contexts of relexification and formation of creoles. The analysis is done by means of comparing these PA core elements with those found in Papiá Kristang (PK), an Asian Portuguese Creole spoken mainly by only a few hundred persons in Malacca, Malaysia. It is consensus that PK is undoubtedly linguistically unrelated to Spanish. If there are similarities between PA and PK, then these can therefore not be attributed to Spanish. Although PK is used as tool of comparison, parallels with Spanish, Portuguese and other Spanish and Portuguese-based creoles will be made to establish a more comprehensive picture of possible linguistic ties between PA and Portuguese.

The evidence suggests that PA cannot be comprehensively analysed and understood if vital historical and linguistic links of this Caribbean creole to the Portuguese language are ignored.