Hans Stumme

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Hans Bernhard Stumme (3 November 1864-10 December 1936) was a German Africanist.


Hans Stumme was born in Mittweida (Saxony), where his father was the mayor, attended the Nikolai Secondary school in Leipzig and studied at the University of Leipzig under Professors Krehl (Arabic and Semitic languages) and Delitzsch (Assyriology and Semitic languages). His main interest was in Arabic and Ge'ez. At the University of Tübingen he attended lectures on Arabic, phonetics and Old Testament studies. In 1887 he visited Algeria, and the following year he obtained his doctorate in Tübingen with a dissertation on "The dialect of the city of Algiers".

Having completed a voyage around the world, Stumme was chosen to teach modern Arabic, modern Persian and Turkish at the University of Leipzig by his Tübingen teacher and patron, the Arabist Albert Socin, who had been appointed professor in Leipzig. From 1892 to 1894 Socin and Stumme recorded the language of Moroccan acrobats in Leipzig and Dresden. As a result Stumme was able to present his habilitation thesis on the poetry of the Shluh (a Berber-speaking group in Morocco). He was largely unaffected by the colonial euphoria of this period.

In 1895 Stumme was appointed to teach "Semitic and Hamitic" (i.e. Afroasiatic) languages. He taught Arabic (classical and modern, including various dialects), Persian and modern Persian, Turkish, Maltese, and occasionally even Hungarian and Tatar; but he also taught African languages – Ge'ez (Ethiopian), Swahili, Hausa, Kanuri and above all Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian dialects of Berber. His preoccupation with language as it was spoken led him to hold lectures in Arabic – a novelty in Leipzig. His strength lay "in the phonetically exact transcription of spoken texts and their evaluation for descriptive grammar"; thus he became a pioneer of the phonetically precise and descriptive study of African languages.

It was through Stumme, appointed professor in 1900, that the study of African languages became established in Leipzig. He gave general lectures on "Basic features of the principal African languages", "The Bantu languages", and "The Sudanic languages", and he trained students in "Exercises in African languages". From 1910 to 1921 Stumme edited the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. He died in Dresden in 1936. His private library, which he bequeathed to the University of Leipzig (and which was destroyed in the second World War) contained 917 works.


  • Stumme, Hans. 1895. Dichtkunst und Gedichte der Schluh. Leipzig.


Page at University of Leipzig


  • Brauner, Siegmund. 1979. Die Entwicklung der Afrikanistik an der Universität Leipzig (zum Wirken von Hans Stumme und August Klingenheben). Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Karl-Marx-Universität Leipzig, Gesellschafts- und Sprachwissenschaftliche Reihe, 28/1: 131-144.
  • Brauner, Siegmund. 1999. Afrikanistik in Leipzig. Band 1:1895-1945. Köln: Köppe.

Original source

From: Jones, Adam (ed.) 2000. Africa in Leipzig: A city looks at a continent 1730-1950. (University of Leipzig Papers on Africa, History and Culture Series, 3.) Leipzig: Institut für Afrikanistik, Universität Leipzig. (section on Hans Stumme by Irmtraud Herms, Karin Huth, and Ekkehard Wolff)