Thursday, April 23, 2015

Swa -- #Curaçao Expressions on the #AtoZChallenge 2015

(just like the swa in swap or swatch or swan)
Literally: brother-in-law (from the Dutch zwager)
In context: man, bro

Swa is to Papiamentu what man (or bro) is to English.

Watch out for that lamppost, swa.

One of the You Know You've Lived in Curaçao tenets is
"... you end your sentences in swa." 
Yes, even when not speaking to your brother-in-law or, for that matter, to any member of your family. (And yes, the implication is that you're sleeping with the sister of whoever you're talking to, but no one takes that literally. And women use it, too. To other women.)
You, mopping your sweaty forehead: "It's hot today, swa."
(English: It's hot today, man.) 
Leaving a party at 5:00 am, to your host: "Great party, swa!"
(English: Great party, bro!)

I really like this photo, swa.
It rounds out nicely some expressions you already know:
"Ai no, swa!"
(English: Aw, man! -- the kind of thing you'd say after missing an easy shot on the tennis court, or playing pool or soccer) 
"Hopi master, swa!"
(English: F*ckin' A, man!) 
"Néchi, swa!"
(English: Looking spiffy, man!) 
"Ei ta palu, swa."
(English: Abso-f*ckin'-lutely, bro.) 
"Hopi ferfelu, swa."
(English: Not cool, man.) 
"Hopi laf, swa."
(English: This is lame, bro.)
The floating market in Punda. Hopi néchi, swa!

And it can also be used as a greeting:
"Hey, swa. Kon ta?"
(English: Hey, bro. How's it going?)

But it's never used to refer to someone. You'd never say, for instance, "Look at that swa over there, the one with the red shirt," or "Yeah, I know Edson. He's my swa."

Felis djaweps, swa!

Oh, and to Debbie of The Doglady's Den: congratulations, swa! She guessed right on yesterday's renchi, and is in the draw (again!) to win a copy of The Miracle of Small Things, short stories about Curaçao :)


  1. It is just like the Hawaiian term "brah" :)

    1. Haha... They even sound similar :D Thanks for the visit, Judy! And SUPER WOW on your W post--brilliant! So, so happy for you!

  2. Hey thanks! Again. ☺ Cool word, swa!

    1. You're most welcome--again, haha. Glad you liked the word ;)

  3. Hi Guilie .. 'swa' .. is just one of those words ... like 'bro' ... love the way you've described it though . .and that photo is perfect .. cheers Hilary

  4. I am so going to start using this. When I was in high school, my friends and I used brah instead of bro. Swa has an even better sound to it - an island sound. :)

    1. Yeah, it's kind of like the Jamaican "mon"--it blares Caribbean :D I love that you're bringing a bit of Curaçao to your life, Chuck. Really love it.

  5. I like that photo too, swa. Love this post!

    1. Hey, thanks, swa! :D So glad you're enjoying the posts -- I'm loving yours :)


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