typical dutch architecture. pretty nice consid...
typical dutch architecture. pretty nice considering that the guidebook said that there was nothing to see in Aruba, architecture-wise, that is… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bon bini!

Friends of ours are tying the knot on the happy little island of Aruba tomorrow, so we’ve been here all week.

Aruba is a language addicts’ dream – it isn’t so shocking to hear Arubans switch between Spanish and English as if it is nothing, but then it is truly impressive when they also add in Dutch and Papiamento.  Papiamento is a creole, stitched together with bits of Spanish, English, Dutch, and even French, Portuguese, and a few old Arawak words for good measure.  Bon bini means welcome in Papiamento.

Of course what I really wondered was how such a polyglot people would name their children.

It has been tough to find any statistics, but from the little I’ve been able to glean, names are nearly unique without being particularly unusual.  One native Aruban told me that “everyone knows everyone” here.  I suspect that’s not nearly true – the population tops 100,000 – but I imagine fewer than six degrees separate most residents.  Spanish spellings dominate, but there are plenty of interesting mash-ups, too.  Skipping over the predictable Pedro and Christian, here are the names that I’ve collected over the past week.






Jean Claude

Juan Diego






Jairzinho was the real stand-out in the group, but I wonder if that’s true even in the company of Arubans.  What’s the most interesting place you’ve even ventured for name spotting?

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About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Had no idea this post existed but I could see people picking up these types of names now and especially because travel is on the rise. Speaking of “tying the knot” – I swear I keep seeing a bunch of advertisements for people visiting parts of the Carribean lately. Plus, when looking on wedding site discussion boards, it feels like places like Jamaica are really hot (as in “popular”) for honeymoon destinations. Perhaps it’s that post-pandemic recovery for island-hopping… which may not be too far from “baby moons” following shortly after!

  2. I’m so freaking jealous – it’s miserably cold here today, and I would luuuurve someone to take me somewhere warm.

    Ichsan looks quite exotic – Male?

    1. It’s quite lovely here, and HOT! Ichsan is male.

      I also came across Lusy and Anni yesterday …

      1. Ha, it’s now wet and sleety and windy …. to answer your question, Fiji and New Zealand are awesome places to go name-spotting!

  3. You should visit Belgium, they switch languages like there’s no tomorrow. I had a friend become an au pair for a family there where the mother spoke German, French and English; the dad spoke Spanish and French; the two sons spoke German and French; and the little girl only spoke French!

    As for the names, Jairzinho really is the stand out! How does one say it? My favourite of the rest is Jean Claude.