In the midst of worldwide concern for local language preservation, Aruba stands as an example to follow. Even though tourism and business is conducted mainly in foreign languages, the locals’ mother tongue, the creole language Papiamento, remains unaffected and strong. The government has no need to become a language police to protect the use and survival of Papiamento and even encourages the acquisition of other foreign languages which are highly beneficial for the country’s economy.
Aruba is a small island off the coast of Venezuela which used to be part of the Dutch colony until 1986. The ties with its motherland remain strong, which is reflected in Aruba’s other official language: Dutch. The island’s economy is mainly based on trade with other Latin American countries, for which the locals need and use languages like Spanish. Tourism is a strong source of income, with more than a million visitors a year, most of which are English speakers. For all this reasons, multilingualism has become a common feature of every Aruban, even though none of the languages they learn seem to replace their local mother tongue.
The government highlights the importance of Papiamento by making immigrants learn it before they can become citizens. The language exam is an important part of obtaining residency and citizenship. This does not mean that the government restrains from making use of other languages in everyday life, such as in signs and transportation schedules.