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From Nan, pet form of the formerly very common female given names Anne and Agnes. As a nursemaid and grandmother, a clipping of earlier nana, from nanny under the probable influence of mama, also from Nan. Compare mary.


From Latin nānus, from Ancient Greek νᾶνος (nânos).


From Middle Persian LHMA (nān, bread, food)

Old English

From ne (not) + ān (one)


The third person plural pronoun nan (they) and the overall plural noun suffix -nan are unique for Papiamentu and cannot be found in any other language. According to Clements and Parkvall the pronoun nan and it's derived suffix -nan were introduced into the language just in the 1700s because of the grown need for a plural marking. Apparently before the introduction the need for a plural marking was not felt. Just like in other South American languages the suffix originated in the form "kas-nan" literally "house-they" (ac Lenz).

Compare the Curripaco Arawak suffix -na and the Dutch suffix -en.

Searches are being undertaken to find the African connections with the words "iran", "ene", "na", "nan", "inen" and "ane" in the languages Bini, Kwa, Anabonese, Bantu, Kimbundu, Angolar, Edo and Saotome in the African countries of Sao Tomé, Angola and Nigeria (see Bartens and Schuchardt). All very improbably.


According to Ferlus (2009), from *t-rn-aːɲ, with nominalizer -rn- infixed into Proto-Vietic *taːɲ (whence đan (to weave)). Further from Proto-Mon-Khmer *t₁aaɲ.


Compare Middle Persian LHMA (nān, bread, food)