Assume that people speak Dioula in Abidjan?

This question came in recently via a YouTube comment from @vincentet4697 on this video:

Can you just assume people speak Dioula in Abidjan or does it depend on the neighborhood?

Here’s my response for future reference in case it is useful:

No, you can’t really assume that people speak Dioula in Abidjan. There are certain neighborhoods that are considered to be very Dioula or Dioula-speaking: Abobo, Adjamé, etc. And then almost all the markets are considered to have a large number of Dioula speakers. People also recognize people as being “Dioula” (and/or therefore likely Dioula speakers) based off things like their occupation, dress as well as their physical appearance. So there are many instances (in particular for locals) where you “just know” that someone likely doesn’t speak Dioula (unless they learned somehow through special personal circumstances) based off various signs. That said, there are many people that you know not to be “Dioula”, but they also speak the language (or understand it) because they grew up in places where there were many Dioula speakers. The more complicated dynamic to navigate is the fact that “speaking Dioula” (or asking if someone speaks Dioula) is potentially a touchy subject for some people. This is linked to many dynamics including politics, class, religion, etc., and the ways that they dovetail with “la crise” of the 2000s and its aftermath.

I was surprised to be told by one of the Ivorians I met in UK saying oh that’s the language of the ‘Muslims’, I laughed to it. So yes you are very right it has religious dimension to it as most of the Manding speaking are Muslims, like in our case in Gambia you can just assume that Mandinka=Muslim.

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