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.
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?