Sunday, April 26, 2015

Unda Punda -- Quirks of Language in #Curaçao (#AtoZChallenge 2015)

I'm running behind, I know... It's been a hectic month. Besides the A-to-Z, my publisher and I are busy wrapping up THE MIRACLE OF SMALL THINGS for the NYC launch in September -- final edits and tweaks, illustrations (my idea, not so great in retrospect), planning, drumming up support from official sources... Anyway, more on all that later. The point is I apologize for the lack of consistency in these posts. And my unending gratitude to all you who keep coming back in spite of it :)

"Hey, Cor. Unda Punda?"
"Right here, swa!"

Papiamentu doesn't have many U words. After months of research, only one friend came up with a U expression -- which, by the way, no one else seems to recognize, so it might well be him giving rein to his creativity and pulling my leg (and now all of yours -- kudos, Miguel). Or it might be a kind of in-joke, something only a certain group of people use.

Either way, I'd rather give you something of questionable origin and a disclaimer than forfeit U day. (And isn't the fact that people can make up this kind of stuff and feed it to us foreigners with impunity a pretty cool quirk, even if it's not exclusive to Curaçao?)

unda Punda
[OON-dah POON-dah]
Literally: where (is) Punda?

If you've been following this A-to-Z series (or if you read this post), you know this makes no sense. Punda is Side A of the island's capital. Anyone who speaks Papiamentu knows, without a shadow of a doubt, exactly where Punda is.

No, of course they're not asking for directions. What this means, according to my (debatably reliable) source, is where's it happening? Where's the party? Where's it at?

Dude's looking a bit clueless there. Bet you he'd be no help if you asked "Unda Punda?"
You know what? I don't care if the expression actually exists, or whether anyone except my friend uses it. I'm going to start using it. It sounds cool.

Fail-safe method to discover "unda Punda" -- follow the steel band. They'll know :)
Congratulations to the blogger at Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace -- tiki is, indeed, "little". (After April, when someone asks you if you can speak Papiamentu, you can say, "a tiki" ;) )


  1. I'm with you on this one. It sounds cool enough to use even if it borders on pidgin. :)

    1. It makes me feel much better to know I won't be the only one going around saying "unda Punda, people?" :D And hey, if it catches on eventually, we'll have proof that it all began right here... Pretty cool, I say ;)

      Thanks for the visit, Chuck. I'm loving having found you through the A-to-Z this year :)


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