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Background

The Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures (AELC) administratively falls under the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer.

History and Major Tasks of the Academy  

Established in 1950, Addis Ababa University (AAU) is the oldest institution of higher learning in Ethiopia. It is Ethiopia’s premier institution of advanced research in the humanities, cultural studies and the hard, as well as social sciences. Among its many faculties and institutes, it houses the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures.

The Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures was established with the purpose of inspiring, supporting and recognizing excellence in the scholarly study of all aspects of Ethiopian languages and cultures. It is a learned society. The Academy thus aims at providing a national forum for cultural and linguistic studies. It creates opportunities for the publication of research reports in books and articles. It is hoped that these publications advance knowledge, and develop and elaborate the languages and cultures of the Ethiopian peoples. The Academy organizes conferences to share and disseminate the latest research findings. It also strives to bring about the standardization of the many languages of the country which are recently alphabetized and vigorously being developed into written languages.

Located on the main campus of AAU, AELC was first established in 1968 under the name: the Academy of Ethiopian Languages under the auspices of the then Ministry of Education and Arts. However, in 1972, its name was changed into the Academy of the Amharic Language. It was again renamed the Academy of Ethiopian Languages in 1975, and was transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Again, a decision was made to move it to Addis Ababa University in mid-1997 at which point it eventually assumed the name Ethiopian Languages Research Center. In consultation with the Ministry of Culture and other concerned governmental and non-governmental organizations, the University decided to upgrade it to an Academy and renamed it the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures on April 30, 2010. The University agreed to give it considerable autonomy to enable it to carry out successfully its national mandates.

AELC is mandated to undertake research on the languages and cultures of the linguistically and culturally diverse Ethiopia. Its major responsibilities are studying, documenting, preserving and promoting Ethiopian languages and cultures, and disseminating research outputs. In spite of frequent change of names, for the last 48 years, this research organization has gone through the process of promoting the various languages and cultures of the country in as many spheres of use as possible. It has, among other things, designed (and continues to design) orthographies and done grammatical descriptions. It is also engaged in collecting and documenting oral literature, indigenous knowledge, and wisdom. It has compiled and published dictionaries and textbooks in different languages such as Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigrigna, Wolaitgna and Sidamigna. As Ge’ez is a storehouse of classical literary works of ancient and medieval Ethiopia, the Academy has taken up the task of translating and publishing time-honored works into Amharic. It has also accomplished cross-disciplinary projects on terminologies and translations of scientific and technological terms in 12 interdisciplinary fields of study in the natural sciences funded by UNESCO.