Orwin studied Arabic and Amharic and has a Ph.D. in the phonology of the Somali language. Since 1992, he has been a lecturer in Somali and Amharic at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, England, where he teaches both Afro-Asiatic languages.
He has also published articles on Somali language and poetry and has conducted field research in the Horn of Africa.
Orwin's ongoing research interests include language use in poetry, particularly in the metrics of Somali verse. In addition, he has translated a number of Somali poems, two of which were published in the Modern Poetry in Translation (No.17 Mother Tongues Special Edition 2001) compendium.
Orwin has worked closely with a number of Somali poets, including Gaarriye and Hadraawi, and is very involved with the Poetry Translation Centre based in London.
He is also the author of Colloquial Somali, a popular book & CD instruction course on the Somali language.