New York Times article on Papiamentu: good article, ridiculous quotes from interviewees

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The New York Times today has a feature on Papiamentu, an article as well as an audio slide show. Papiamentu is a language that deserves more attention than it gets so the article is a good thing; unfortunately two people interviewed in the article are...well, you decide for yourself.

Quote 1: "Papiamentu is the only language that gives the human his value as a human." Uh, what? Translation: "Papiamentu is my mother tongue and also my favourite language."

The most moronic comment in the article is this one though:

Helmin Wiels, 51, leader of the leftist party Pueblo Soberano, which favors a complete break from the Netherlands, said that if Curaçao were to achieve full independence, its official language should be Papiamentu, along with English and Spanish. As for Dutch, he said: “No way. Dutch is a dead language the same as Greek or Latin.”
This one is painfully dumb in so many ways. Let's see, where to start... 1) the 13 million speakers of Greek would probably disagree that their language is dead; 2) Same for the 20 ~ 30 million speakers of Dutch; 3) If tens of millions of speakers doesn't qualify a language as alive then what is Papiamentu with 300,000?

I would also question the value of independence from a country as chill as the Netherlands. Having a foot in the door to the EU through being part of the Netherlands is nothing to sneeze at, and discarding this to become a tiny country off the coast of South America all by oneself is IMO not worth the effort.

Besides that though, good article for a great language.

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