The research at the Department of African Languages and Cultures is focused on three geographical regions: West Africa, East Africa and Horn of Africa. The main languages spoken in these areas which are at the same time some of the most widespread languages in Africa, namely: Hausa, Swahili and Amharic are both the subjects of research and teaching. Individual research projects concern also South and Central Africa.
The research tasks included in multiannual plan apply mainly to linguistics and literary studies. Their specificity in comparison to other research in those fields is based on using native African languages as a source. Moreover national and regional variants of English, French and Portuguese spoken in Africa are also considered African languages. The African studies focused on languages are highly important not only for description of languages themselves but also for creation and verification of theoretic methodological models applied to basic research fields.
The synchronic and diachronic comparative research considering structural features of African languages are well-founded traditional current of African linguistics cultivated in the Department of African Languages and Cultures. Simultaneously the new fields of research are being developed. They cover communication aspects of language including non-verbal coding. The cultural linguistics based on methodology of lexical semantics and cognitive linguistics is particularly well developing.
The separate linguistic specialisation is lexicography with usage of computational methods of compiling dictionaries and corpora.
The topics of literary studies are equally literatures in native languages (Amharic, classical Ethiopic Ge'ez, Hausa and Swahili) and literature in postcolonial languages (English, French and Portuguese). The Department is specialised in philological editing of historical writing treasures and manuscripts including manuscripts in modified Arabic alphabet for African languages known as ajami.
The research on language, literature and writing in native languages have an important aspect for developing other studies in particular history and social science. Studying of African history through written texts and oral tradition fills the cognition gap resulting from scarcity of sources in this field in European languages. Socio-cultural problems analyzed on the basis of linguistic data complement sociological and multi-faceted cultural knowledge including religious issues. Linguistic sources (belles-lettres, press, oral tradition, communication aspects of language) allow interpreting modern political processes and processes of West and African civilizations' impact. The new source for research in coming years is African film.
All directions of research mentioned above are pursued as a part of multiannual research project: Languages, literatures and societies in the process of change in Africa.
The research programme of the Department anticipates close cooperation with academic centres of similar profile in Europe (i. a. Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale, Universität Hamburg, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main) and African universities (Bayero University, Kano in Nigeria, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo in Mozambique, University of Nairobi in Kenya).
The part of particular research tasks is participation of the Department staff members in international conferences on African studies and thematic conferences in Poland and abroad.
Iwona Kraska-Szlenk, Multilingual Semantic Dictionary of Body Parts, grant NCN nr 2015/19/B/HS2/01573, 2016-2019;
Iwona Kraska-Szlenk, Lexicon - Metaphor - Culture: Body and Conceptualisation of Notions in Languages of Europe, Africa, Asia, grant MNiSW, 2011-2013;
Beata Wójtowicz, Small Electronic Dictionary Swahili-Polish and Polish-Swahili, grant MNiSW, 2009-2011;
Nina Pawlak, Language of Emotions Symbolism in Cultures of Asia and Africa, grant MNiSW, 2007-2009;
Marta Jackowska-Uwadizu, The Games and Plays of Africa as a Tool of Intercultural Dialog in Early School Education, project is a part of "Development Education 2011" plebiscite organized by Minister of Foregin Affairs with cooperation with Minister of National Education adn Minister of Science and Higher Educatnion, 2011.
Joanna Mantel-Niećko, Socio-economic and Political Organisation of Ethiopian State in Modern Era, grant KBN, 2003-2006;
Beata Wójtowicz, General Linguistic and Lexicographic Basics of Swahili-Polish Dictionary's Organisation, grant KBN, 2004-2005;
Hanna Rubinkowska, The Transfer of Power in Ethiopia 1916-1930, grant KBN, 2001-2002.
Project BiraDict (lead by Prof. Janusz Krzywicki)