World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Wolf Leslau

Article Id: WHEBN0008086933
Reproduction Date:

Title: Wolf Leslau  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ge'ez language, Tigrinya language, Amharic language, Soddo language, Tigre language, Argobba language, Gafat language, Robert Hetzron, Harari language, Silt'e language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Wolf Leslau

Wolf Leslau in 2004, speaking in San Diego to the 32nd North American Conference on Afroasiatic Linguistics.

Wolf Leslau (Hebrew: וולף לסלאו‎; November 14, 1906, Krzepice (German: Kschepitz), Vistula Land (Poland) – November 18, 2006) was a scholar of Semitic languages and one of the foremost authorities on Semitic languages of Ethiopia.

Youth and Education

Leslau was born in Krzepice, a small town near Częstochowa, Poland.[1] When he was a child his family was very poor, and after contracting tuberculosis he usually had to keep a thermometer with him to monitor his body temperature, although the reasons for this are unknown. He was orphaned by the age of 10, and was raised by his brother, and received a yeshiva education.[2]

To avoid military service in the Polish army, he gave up his Polish citizenship (becoming a stateless person) and emigrated to Vienna,[2] where he would engage in Semitic studies at the University of Vienna until 1931.[3] He then went to the Sorbonne to study under Marcel Cohen. His studies included most of the Semitic languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, Soqotri and Ethiopic.[4]

War Years

Leslau was arrested by the French police and sent to an internment camp in the Pyrenees where he spent the harsh winter of 1939-1940 with his wife and child. He was later moved to Camp des Milles, a concentration camp near Aix-en-Provence.[5] However, with the assistance of an international aid group, he escaped with his family before the Nazis took over the camp in 1942.[6] They escaped to the United States. He later became a naturalized U.S. citizen.[7]

He settled in New York, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship[8] to continue his studies of the Semitic languages in Ethiopia. He traveled throughout the country, recording endangered Ethiopian languages. For one language, Gafat, Leslau was able to locate only four speakers. It became extinct shortly thereafter.

Career in Los Angeles and Fieldwork in Ethiopia

In 1955, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he joined the faculty of University of California, Los Angeles. He was instrumental in establishing the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Near East Studies.[4]

Leslau specialized in previously unrecorded and unstudied Semitic languages of Ethiopia. His first trip to Ethiopia in 1946 was funded by a Guggenheim fellowship.[3]

Recognitions and Retirement

In 1965 Leslau received the Haile Selassie Prize for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa from Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.[9] He held the position of Professor Emeritus at UCLA until his death at the age of 100. He remained active in research and writing until his death. He learned to use a Macintosh computer at the age of 80.[10]

Leslau died at a nursing home in Fullerton, California, in 2006.[5]

Partial bibliography

  • 1938: Lexique Soqotri (sudarabique moderne) avec comparaisons et explications étymologiques. Paris: Klincksieck.
  • 1941: Documents tigrigna: grammaire et textes. Paris: Libraire C. Klincksieck.
  • 1945: Short Grammar of Tigré. Publications of the American Oriental Society, Offprint Series, No. 18. New Haven.
  • 1945: Gafat Documents: Records of a South-Ethiopic language. American Oriental series, no. 28. New Haven.
  • 1950: Ethiopic Documents: Gurage. New York: Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, no. 14.
  • 1951: Falasha Anthology. Yale Judaica Series, vol. 6. New Haven & London: Yale University Press. (ISBN 0-300-03927-1)
  • 1956: Étude descriptive et comparative du Gafat (éthiopien méridional). Paris: Klincksieck, xx + 277 p.
  • 1958: Ethiopic and South Arabic contributions to the Hebrew lexicon. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 76 p.
  • 1958: The verb in Harari. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, x + 86 p.
  • 1965: An Amharic Conversation Book. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-00553-X)
  • 1965: Ethiopians speak. Studies in cultural background. Part 1: Harari. Near Eastern Studies, no. 7. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • 1965: An annotated bibliography of the Semitic languages of Ethiopia. The Hague: Mouton.
  • 1966: Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background. Part 2: Chaha. University of California Publication. Near Eastern Studies, no. 9, 219 p.
  • 1967: Amharic Textbook. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-00554-8)
  • 1968: Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background. Part 3: Soddo. University of California Publications. Near Eastern Studies, vol. 11.
  • 1969: Hebrew Cognates in Amharic. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-00555-6)
  • 1973: English-Amharic Context Dictionary. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, xviii + 1503 p. (ISBN 3-447-01482-2)
  • 1976: Concise Amharic Dictionary. (Reissue edition: 1996) Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. (ISBN 0-520-20501-4)
  • 1979: Etymological Dictionary of Gurage (Ethiopic). 3 vols. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-02041-5)
  • 1981: Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background. Part 4: Muher. Äthiopistische Forschungen, no. 11. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. (ISBN 3-515-03657-1)
  • 1982: Gurage Folklore: Proverbs, beliefs, and riddles. Studien zur Kulturkunde, no. 63. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag. (ISBN 3-515-03513-3)
  • 1983: Ethiopians Speak: Studies in Cultural Background. Part 5: Chaha and Ennemor. Äthiopistische Forschungen, no. 16. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • 1987: Comparative dictionary of Ge‛ez (Classical Ethiopic) : Gǝ‛ǝz-English/English-Gǝ‛ǝz with an index of the Semitic roots. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, xlix + 813 p.
  • 1988: Fifty Years of Research: Selection of articles on Semitic, Ethiopian Semitic and Cushitic. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, xlv + 503 p. (ISBN 3-447-02829-7)
  • 1989: Concise dictionary of Gǝ‛ǝz (Classical Ethiopic). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 247 p.
  • 1990: Arabic Loanwords in Ethiopian Semitic. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-03000-3)
  • 1992: Gurage Studies : Collected Articles. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, xxix + 744 p. (ISBN 3-447-03189-1)
  • 1995: Reference Grammar of Amharic. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden. (ISBN 3-447-03372-X)
  • 1997: Ethiopic Documents: Argobba. Grammar and dictionary. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-03955-8)
  • 1999: Zway Ethiopic Documents. Äthiopistische Forschungen, no. 51. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-04162-5)
  • 2000: Introductory Grammar of Amharic. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, xix + 232 p. (ISBN 3-447-04271-0)
  • 2001: (with Thomas L. Kane) Amharic Cultural Reader. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-04496-9)
  • 2004: The Verb in Mäsqan as Compared with other Gurage Dialects. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (ISBN 3-447-04905-7)


  • Segert, Stanislav & András J. E. Bodrogligeti (eds.), Ethiopian Studies: Dedicated to Wolf Leslau on the Occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, November 14, 1981 by friends and colleagues. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1983, xii + 582 p. (ISBN 3-447-02314-7).
  • Kaye, Alan S. (ed.), Semitic studies in honor of Wolf Leslau on the occasion of his 85th birthday, November 14, 1991. 2 Vols. Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz 1991, lxviii. + 1719 p. (ISBN 3-447-03168-9).
  • Hudson, Grover (ed.), Essays on Gurage Language and Culture: Dedicated to Wolf Leslau on the Occasion of His 90th Birthday, November 14, 1996. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1996, 239 p. (ISBN 3-447-03830-6).

External links

  • Stewart, Jocelyn Y. (23 November 2006). "Wolf Leslau, 100; UCLA professor sought out and recorded Ethiopian languages". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  • Hudson, Grover (24 November 2006). "Obituary: Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006". Linguist List. 
  • "Remembering a friend of Ethiopia: Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006". Walta Information Center. 


  1. ^ "Wolf Leslau, in Memoriam". 
  2. ^ a b "Wolf Leslau" (web page). Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  3. ^ a b "LINGUIST List 17.3470: Obituary: Wolf Leslau, 1906-2006". Retrieved 2009-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b "Remembering a friend of Ethiopia: Wolf Leslau, 1906-200". 
  5. ^ a b Stewart, Jocelyn Y. (November 23, 2006). "Wolf Leslau, 100; UCLA professor sought out and recorded Ethiopian languages - Los Angeles Times". The Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Kaye, Alan S. (2007). "Wolf Leslau". Language 83 (4): 870–875. doi:10.1353/lan.2008.0014. 
  7. ^ Guthe, C. E. (1950). International directory of anthropologists. 3rd edition. Washington, D.C.: National research Council. page 108.
  8. ^ "Wolf Leslau - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". 
  9. ^ "The History of Haile Sellassie Prizes for Ethiopian Studies 2. (18-OCT-02) Asia Africa Intelligence Wire". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. October 18, 2002. 
  10. ^ "UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies :: Wolf Leslau and Stanford J. Shaw". 
  • Devens, Monica S., "On the Occasion of Wolf Leslau's 100th Birthday", in: Aethiopica 9 (2006), pp. 220–221.
  • Müller, Walter W., "Zum Gedenken an Wolf Leslau", in: Aethiopica 10 (2007), pp. 210–218.
  • Fikre Tolossa. Wolf Leslau (1906-2006). 2007. International Journal of Ethiopian Studies 3.1: 121-123.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.