Current Position:

Professor of African Linguistics at the Department of Humanities (StudiUm) of the University of Turin.

Former Positions:

— Charged of Semitic Linguistics at the University of Turin (from 1990 to 1992).

— Teacher of Italian Language at the Somali National University, Mogadishu (from 1986 to 1989). Technical Coordinator at the Somali Academy of Sciences in Mogadishu in 1990.

— Associate Professor of African Linguistics at the Department of African and Arab Studies (DSRAPA) of the Università di Napoli “L’Orientale” (formerly the Istituto Universitario Orientale), Naples, Italy, from 1993 to 2008; courses in Somali Language and Literature, General African Linguistics; General Linguistics (1997-1998), Semitic Linguistics (from 1994 to 1998).


— Somalia (1986-1990); collection of linguistic data on various Southern Somali dialects, in particular: Karre (basic grammar published in 1989, in Italian), Tunni (grammar published in 1997), comparative analysis and reconstruction (various articles published).

— Kenya (1988): collection of data on the Dahalo (South Cushitic) language (grammar published in 1991).

— Ethiopia, Southwest:

a.(1996-2000): description of the Dhaasanac (East Cushitic) language (grammar published in 2001);

b.(2001-2007): Gawwada and other Dullay varieties (East Cushitic; various articles published; grammar in progress);

c.Ongota (unclassified, possibly Afroasiatic; a few articles published; basic description published in 2001 together with Graziano Savà);

d.(2007): Hamar (South Omotic): research in progress.

— Kenya (2010-2012): Elmolo (East Cushitic), documentation and revitalization (in progress).

— South Sudan (2013): Juba Arabic; linguistic and sociolinguistic documentation.

Organization of Scientific Conferences:

Eighth Meeting of Afroasiatic (Hamito-Semitic) Linguistics, Naples, Italy, January 1996. Proceedings published with Alessandro Bausi as Afroasiatica Neapolitana. Articoli presentati all’8° Incontro di Linguistica Afroasiatica (Camito–Semitica) / Papers from the 8th Italian Meeting of Afroasiatic (Hamito–Semitic) Linguistics, Napoli, IUO, 1997.

— (with Alessandro Mengozzi) 14th Meeting of Afroasiatic Linguistics. Turin, June 15-17, 2011.

— (with Benjamin Saade) Fifth International Conference on Maltese Linguistics. Turin, June 24-26, 2015.

— (with Marco Tamburelli) Contested Languages in the Old World – 2. Turin, May 5-6, 2016.

Membership in editorial boards and referee activity:

— Director of the international journal Kervan (Turin;

— Member of the Scientific Committee of the Piedmontese Centre for African Studies (Turin), and of the Laboratory of Experimental Phonetics “Arturo Genre” (Turin).

— Editor of the series Cushitic and Omotic Studies (Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Cologne).

— Member of the editorial board of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.

— Member of the editorial board of the Rassegna di Studi Etiopici (Rome, Italy).

— Member of the advisory board of Faits de Langue (Paris, France).

— Member of the advisory board of Ilsienna/Our Language - Working papers of the International Association of Maltese Linguistics (GHILM).

— Referee for the National Science Foundation (Arlington, VA), the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (London, UK), and the DoBeS (“Dokumentation Bedrohter Sprachen”; Volkswagen-Stiftung, Hannover).

— Member of the EuroBABEL Review Panel for the European Science Foundation and of the European Science Foundation Pool of Reviewers (Strasbourg, France).

— Member of the International Research Group on Contested Languages (Bangor University;


—1988; sponsor: Istituto Italo-Africano (Rome, Italy), spent in Lamu (Kenya); aim: description of the Dahalo language.

—1993/94 (9 months); sponsor: Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany), spent at the Institut für Afrikanistik and the Institut für Sprachwissenschaft of the University of Cologne (Germany). Hosts: Professors Bernd Heine and Hans-Jürgen Sasse.

—1999 (6 months): Visiting Professor at the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, Australian National University, Canberra (ANU, Australia). Host: Prof. R.M.W. Dixon.

— 2002 (8 months): sponsor: Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany), spent at the Institut für Sprachwissenschaft of the University of Cologne (Germany). Host: Prof. Hans-Jürgen Sasse.

— 2004 (2 months): Visiting Professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Host: Prof. Nicholas Evans.

— 2006 (1 month): Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. Hosts: Prof.s Bernard Comrie and Martin Haspelmath.

— 2008 (4 months): Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. Hosts: Prof.s Bernard Comrie and Martin Haspelmath.

— 2008 (1 month): CNRS, LLACAN, Villejuif, France. Host: Dr. Martine Vanhove.

Guest lectures and conference presentations in the following countries (in alphabetical order):

Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Somalia, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.

International Research Groups:

—Member of the Laboratoire de Linguistique de Nantes (LLING, EA 3827); Nantes, France.

— Participant in the Loanword Typology Database (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Leipzig, Germany): 2005-2007.

— Participant in the CORPAFROAS: Corpus Oral en langues Afroasiatiques : Analyse Prosodique et Morphosyntaxique (Agence Nationale de la Recherche; Paris, France): 2006-2010.

— Participant in the Hierarchies Discursives project (LLACAN-CNRS; Villejuif): 2011-.

— Participant in the FIRB project Linee di Transizione Linguistiche e Culturali in Africa (ATrA) with the Universities of Trieste and of Naples "L'Orientale" (funded by MIUR – Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research): 2013-2015.

Main Areas of Research:

— Cushitic languages and languages of the Horn of Africa in an areal/typological perspective, with a special focus on East Cushitic and Somali, and the southern Ethiopian area;

— Language contact and language death and the language/ethnicity relationship in the Horn of Africa;

— Comparative linguistics and reconstruction of Cushitic and Afroasiatic;

— Pidgins and creoles, especially African Arabic-based ones;

— Language maintenance and language revitalization;

— Piedmontese.

(photo: Joachim Crass)