Wan is spoken in central Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), in the subprefectures of
Kounahiri and Beoumi (see map).
According to the Ethnologue, there were
22,000 speakers of Wan in 1993. This number, however, has been decreasing due to the population's massive migration to the south following the conflict between rebels and government forces in 2002. There are two dialects of Wan: Myanmu and Kenmu. Younger speakers are bilingual in French.
Wan belongs to the Southeastern branch of the Mande family (Niger-Congo).
It is an isolating language with rigid S-O-V-X word order (the verb is preceded by its object and followed by all other arguments and adjuncts).
Wan uses postpositions, and the word order within its noun phrase is Possessor-Noun-Determiner. Adjectives follow the noun.
Wan is a tonal language with three tones.
- Nikitina, Tatiana. 2007.
Time reference of aspectual forms in Wan (Southeastern Mande). Selected Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference on African Linguistics,
ed. D. L. Payne and J. Pena, 125-33. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla. view
- [an overview of the use of temporal deixis for the encoding of temporal relations]
- Nikitina, Tatiana. 2008.
Locative terms and spatial frames of reference in Wan.
Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 29(1): 29-47. view
- [a survey of locative postpositions in a typological perspective]
- Nikitina, Tatiana. 2008.
The mixing of syntactic properties and language change.
Doctoral dissertation, Stanford University. view
- [Chapters 3, 6, and 7 rely extensively on data from Wan]
- Prost, André. 1953. Les langues Mandé-Sud du groupe Mana-Busa. Dakar: IFAN.
- [includes a short grammatical sketch and a few Wan words; unfortunately, tones are unmarked and transcription is not always accurate]
- Ravenhill, Philip L. 1976. The social organization of the Wan: A Patrilineal People of Ivory Coast. Ph.D. Dissertation, New School for Social Research.
- [the best available source of information on the social structure and history of Wan]
- Ravenhill, Philip L. 1978. Qui sont les Wan? Godo Godo 4/5, 47-73.
- [a brief discussion of the history of the Wan and their relationship with other people of Ivory Coast]
- Ravenhill, Philip L. 1978. The interpretation of symbolism in Wan female initiation. Africa 48(1), 66-79.
- [a study of female initiation and the role of women in the Wan society]
- Ravenhill, Philip L. 1982. The Wan language. Mandenkan 4, 57-69.
- [an outline of basic linguistic facts, along with a small word list and a number of sentences; focuses on the Kenmu dialect]
- Ravenhill, Philip L. 1988. An African triptych: On the interpretation of three parts and the whole. Art Journal 47(2), 88-94.
- [a study of three masks; includes photographs]
- Syllabaire Wan. 1996. Roneotyped. Abidjan: SIL.
- [a primer with short texts in Wan by Bomisso Gbayoro Mathias, with French translations, elaborated and edited by Margrit Bolli (SIL)]
For further information and recent materials, please contact:
Tatiana Nikitina   tavnik (at) gmail (dot) com