Our Team

Maarten Mous

Project leader

Maarten Mous is professor of African linguistics at Leiden University. His PhD thesis (1992) was a Grammar of Iraqw, a Cushitic language of Tanzania and he continues to work on this language. He has worked on several languages of Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia (and in West Africa), both synchronically and diachronically. Over 50 PhD theses have been completed under his responsability. He is the PI of the project. See more

Mulugeta Seyoum

Sub-project leader

Dr. Mulugeta Seyoum is an associate professor in Linguistics at Addis Ababa University. He served the Academy of Ethiopian Language and Cultures as Interim Director and led various projects on orthography development of Maale, Dime and other languages in Southern Ethiopia. He earned an MPhil from NTNU, Trondheim (2001) and a PhD from Leiden University (2008). See more

Christian Rapold 


Christian Rapold is a postdoc in Project 1. He previously worked on Khoekhoe (Khoe, a.k.a Central Khoisan) as a postdoc, on Bench (Omotic) for his PhD, and Lingala (Bantu) for his MA. Before joining the project, he was an assistant professor in General and Comparative Linguistics at the University of Regensburg. See more

Ahmed Sosal

PhD candidate

Ahmed Sosal is a PhD candidate at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. He completed his BA in Linguistics at the University of Khartoum. He did his MA studies in Linguistics at the University of Cape Town. Ahmed is reconstructing the phonology and lexicon of Proto Core Cushitic as part of project 2 (PhD). See more

Andrew Harvey 


Andrew Harvey is a Junior Professor in the Faculty of Languages and Literatures at the University of Bayreuth. His interests include the languages of the Tanzanian rift, their documentation and description, their morphosyntax, and the histories and cultures of their speaker communities, especially as evinced through linguistic arts and language contact. See more

Samuel Beer


Samuel Beer is a lecturer at the University of Leiden and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Virginia. He works with speakers of Kuliak languages from northeastern Uganda. His most recent research centers around the social contexts in which legacy data was collected and the social contexts in which it can be most beneficially returned to communities from which it was extracted.

Terrill Schrock


Terrill Schrock is an independent researcher with field experience working on several Bantu, Eastern Nilotic, and Kuliak languages in Uganda. For his PhD at Leiden, he wrote a grammar of Ik. In this project, Terrill is studying Ik etymology for clues of how Kuliak has interacted historically with other East African languages.

Dominique L.

Research assistant

Dominique Loviscach is in the first year of the Research Master in Linguistics at Leiden University. Her fascination for East African languages began with a structure course of Swahili in her bachelor’s. As a research assistant in the project, she supports other members in their tasks.

Sjef v. Lier

Research assistant

Sjef van Lier did a bachelor in African Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. He mastered in Linguistics as Leiden University. He is interested in Somaloid languages and diversity. For this project he researches some phonological aspects of the Eastern Cushitic and Nilo Saharan languages. 

Marta Cestari

Research assistant

Marta Cestari  is a Master Linguistics student at Leiden University. She is specialized in Theoretical Linguistics, with a focus on Syntax and Pragmatics. In the project, she is a research assistant researching on kinship terminology in Bantu languages, and how these systems have changed and shifted through time.

Giorgia Zantei

Research assistant

Giorgia Zantei is at her last year of master’s degree in Linguistics in University of Bologna. Her main research interest is word order in noun and verb phrase in African Languages. She is currently doing her internship within the project, where she is working on the unusual Inf-Aux order in two SVO Bantu languages, Mbugwe and Rangi.

Iris Kruijsdijk 

Research assistant

Iris Kruijsdijk is a first-year Research Master Linguistics student at Leiden University. She is specializes in East African languages and wrote her BA thesis on the noun class agreement system in the Kenyan Gĩchuka language. In the project, she is a research assistant and supports the other members in their tasks.

Floor v. Doesburg

Research assistant

Floor van Doesburg is a third year BA archaeology student at Leiden University. He is specialising in East and South African archaeology. He is currently working on two thesis one on the connectivity of the Southern African subcontinent and the other on the oral traditions and ritual landscapes in Africa. In the project he will assist in understanding the archaeological record around the Rift Valley area.

Sophie Mulder

Research assistant

Sophie Mulder is student of Linguistics and Archaeology at Leiden University, planning to pursue her Master’s in Osteoarchaeology. Currently, she is writing her BA thesis on Southern Cushitic loans in the Bantu languages of the Taita Hills in East Africa.

Firew Elias

PhD candidate

Firew Elias Gezze is a lecturer of Linguistics at Arba Minch University. He obtained an MA degree from Addis Ababa University (The acoustic duration of vowels in Wolaytta, Omotic), and a BA from Mekelle University. Firew has a keen interest in Language Reconstruction, Language Typology and Experimental Phonetics. He is working on project 3 Comparative Southern Omotic (PhD).

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