He is credited in large part for validating Papiamento language as a literary language.

Jules de Palm was born January 25, 1922, in Curaçao, a Caribbean island near the northern coast of South America that had been colonized by the Dutch. Along with Pierre Lauffer and René de Rooy, he created Cancionero Papiamento, published in 1943. On more than one occasion the three authors used the collective pseudonym of Julio Perrenal. Before he won notice in the intellectual circles of his country, de Palm was an elementary school teacher for 16 years in his native island of Curaçao and the neighboring island of Aruba. Those two island nations, along with Bonaire, the so-called ABC islands, share the Papiamento language that was derived from Portuguese and Spanish with Dutch, French, English and Arawak influences.

Cancionero Papiamento is a collection of songs and poems that was one of the first works to recognize the literary importance of Papiamento. The work represents the concerns of a group of Curaçao intellectuals who wanted to validate the language as one of the most important elements of the island’s culture. Because Papiamento was mostly a spoken language, the writers used popular Caribbean music in Cancionero Papiamento. Among the genres were merengue and rumba-fox, the latter a mix of Afro-Cuban and African-American forms. The publication of the book played a key role in revaluing the island’s culture. Years later, Papiamento was recognized, along with Dutch and English, as one of the official languages of the island. Additionally, beginning in the 1980s, efforts have been made to include the language as part of the country’s educational curriculum.

De Palm spent part of his youth in Holland. When he returned to Curaçao, he found a rich intellectual community that was the result of the migration of Europeans to the Caribbean to escape World War II. He wrote for the magazine Antilliaanse Cahiers, an important publication that circulated on several islands. He edited the Encyclopedie van de Nederlandse Antillen, a reference work that was essential for any study of Curaçao. Some of his most widely recognized works are Antiya (Amsterdam, 1981),Kinderen van de fraters (Amsterdam, 1986) and Lekkerwarm, lekkerbruin (Amsterdam, 1990). De Palm’s work was influenced by the experience of navigating various cultures in Europe and the Caribbean.

In addition to his original works, De Palm also translated universal works of literature into Papiamento, including some works by Shakespeare.


Author: Grupo Editorial
Published: June 13, 2012.

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