These words come from a language known as Guene or Lenga di Luandu (Language of Luando) spoken by blacks on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. They were recorded in the early 20th century and are not Papiamentu:

tsjacá = tiger
saú = goat
bovi = lion

Does anyone have an idea what African language(s) could possibly be at the origin of these words? Could this be Vili language?

  • An excellent question. Do not downvote it.
    – fdb
    Feb 6, 2017 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


Koen Bostoen would know the answer. The known resources on Vili are listed here. Kongo "goat" would be along the lines of nkombo and "lion" is nkosi, but there are many forms of Kongo: these are from Manyanga. As for "tiger" (also lion) there are no tigers in Africa or Curaçao (ignoring modern zoos), and no lions in Curaçao, so the source and current gloss are probably pretty approximate. Nothing within Bantu springs to mind, assuming a Kongo language source. Maybe tsjaca is "cat" (Bantu *paka), though the Manyanga word for "cat" is mbuuma. There is a word bubi "badness" which could be the source of bovi, though that's a stretch. Based on word length and known history, a Bantu source of the most likely source, but even then I would have expected more-recognizable words.

The most reasonable connection I can come up with is between sau and goat, via Germanic. English "sow", Dutch "zeug" and Norwegian "sau" have a common root, and interestingly Norwegian sau mean "sheep". I doubt there was any Norwegian influence on the language, but Dutch is more plausible.

If you have a reference (as in, where in the world did you get the data) or additional examples of the language, that would be useful information.

Given the data in the article linked by Yellow Sky, I would say it's not any form of Kongo. You might ask here: I don't find any matches on Gen, but that's not my area.


Thanks for your help! Unfortunately Koen told me that he doesn't have any people in his team with expertise in Vili.

Here are some more words: genáu: in a hurry saíta nora: shut up avú babè: you are lying Toro moro = I'm doing fine Kanga = empty, poor

Here are some words from a song: Djowili ku Patangan, zan wego, zan wego, huemi. Ami Za zeila, ami Ze zeila, Ze Ze, helo, ami Ze zeila kanumbolo, mi Ze Ze helo, tmai boso mele; ami Ze zeila, ami Ze zeila. Le mai mundu eh leba no, ma limania go eh saino

  • Have you seen this? It's an article called "Géni: Taal van Verzet", in Dutch, that's the text of it, and here's the newspaper from which it was taken, see page 6, it's downloadable. The article contains many sentences in Géni translated, maybe you already know of the article, still it could help other people here find out the source language of those words.
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 7, 2017 at 1:58
  • Here's the article in English.
    – Yellow Sky
    Feb 7, 2017 at 2:08
  • 3
    This is not an answer. You can always edit your own question (even with only 1 point of reputation) and put additional information in there. Feb 7, 2017 at 13:13
  • I very much doubt that Guene was a Portuguese Creole, as suggested in this article. The most likely origin, in my opinion, is either the Bight of Benin (Fon or other Gbe languages) or the Kingdom of Luango (Vili or other variants of Kikongo). It would be helpful if a native speaker of Fon or Vili could have a look at these words and confirm/reject this suggestion. Feb 10, 2017 at 2:50

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