Akademia Papiamentu holds well-attended conference 

The panel discussion with the audience and public was very lively. Photo: ABC Online Media

KRALENDIJK- The Akademia Papiamentu, which is committed to setting up a language policy on Bonaire, among other things, held a well-attended conference on Saturday in the Plaza Resort Bonaire.

A good 100 attendees listened attentively to the speakers of the afternoon and evening, including linguists Joana Duarte, Martha Dijkhof and Nicholas Caraclas. All three of them told the public that using four languages ​​side by side on the island bring great opportunities.

Research conducted in the Netherlands, for example, shows that children who receive trilingual education in Dutch, Frisian and English, achieve significantly better academic performance than those who receive education only in Dutch. Multilingualism does not appear to be a handicap, but rather an advantage or even a catalyst.

The three experts also extensively spoke about Papiamentu as a so-called ‘matrix language’; a language in the background that facilitates other languages, ​​and a language that is not imposed from outside. Research by Faraclas, among others, shows that on Bonaire it is not so much Papiamentu that is under pressure, but Dutch. Young people in particular are increasingly turning away from Dutch, in favor of -for example- English. Dutch is often seen by especially youngsters as an ‘imposed language’, which leads to less pleasant associations. Despite sounds that other languages ​​would make the use of Papiamentu less widespread or less relevant, Papiamentu remains the most widely spoken language on the island of all four languages.


Ruben Severina took those present on a bird’s-eye view of the contours of an agreement concluded between Bonaire and the Netherlands to stimulate and – in the long term – protect Papiamentu.

Poet Ini Statia received praise for her trilingual poems, which she and Jackie Bernabela recited with passion to the audience.

The panel discussion with the experts and the public was very lively, but had to be closed after a few questions due to time.

President of the Fundashon Akademia Papiamentu, Elsmarie Beukenboom, is satisfied. “I am very happy with this turnout.  And mind you, this is just the beginning of everything we are going to do and of all the plans we have.”

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