Associate Professor Heather Brookes is a graduate of Stanford University and an NRF rated researcher. She served as Vice President of the International Society for Gesture Studies from 2002-2005.
She specializes in multimodal (speech and gesture) communication. She has documented the gestural system of urban township communities, and for the past 19 years, she has been tracking language use among multilingual township youth. She is currently working on language and gestural development in Sesotho investigating the development of representation and abstraction in language and gesture in early and later childhood and the effect of linguistic and cultural constraints on multimodal language production. She is also part of leading an initiative on large-scale documentation of language acquisition in Sesotho, SeTswana, isiXhosa, XiTsonga, Afrikaans and SA English with colleagues at UCT, Stellenbosch, Sefako Makgatho and Lancaster Universities. In addition she is working on English second language acquisition in Xhosa speakers from 9 to 14 years from a multimodal perspective.
She is currently a recipient of both a Marie Curie and a Newton award. She is part of the South African Research Chair on Migration, Language and Social Change led by Professor Rajend Mesthrie.
Ovendale, A., Brookes, H.J., Colletta, JM. and Davis, Z. (In press) The role of gestural polysigns and gestural sequences in teaching mathematical concepts: The case of halving. Gesture
Brookes, H.J. (2014) Urban Youth Languages in South Africa: A Case Study of Tsotsitaal in a South African Township. Anthropological Linguistics 56(3-4): 356-388.
Brookes, H.J. and Lekgoro, T. (2014) A social history of urban male youth ‘varieties’ in Stirtonville and Vosloorus, South Africa. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 32(2): 149-159.
Maribe, T. and Brookes, H.J. (2014) Vela, re a ringa: ‘Of course, we speak [boys’ talk]: the role of tsotsitaal in the performance of black, lesbian, youth identities. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 32(2): 199-214.
Brookes, H.J. (2014) Gesture in the Communicative Ecology of a South African Township. In Seyfeddinipur, M. and Gullberg, M. (eds.) Visible Utterance in Action. Festschrift for Adam Kendon. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, Pp 59-74.
Brookes, H.J. (2014) Gestures in South Africa. Chapter 73. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., Ladewig, S.H., McNeill, D. and Bressem, J. (eds.) Body-Language-Communication: An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. Vol. 2. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, Pp 1147-1153.
Brookes, H.J. and Nyst, V. (2014) Gesture in the Sub-Saharan region. Chapter 74. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., Ladewig, S.H., McNeill, D. and Bressem, J. (eds.) Body-Language-Communication: An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. Vol. 2. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, Pp 1154-1161.
Brookes, H.J. (2014) Gestures and taboo: A cross-cultural perspective. Chapter 115. In Müller, C., Cienki, A., Fricke, E., Ladewig, S.H., McNeill, D. and Bressem, J. (eds.) Body-Language-Communication: An International Handbook on Multimodality in Human Interaction. Vol. 2. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, Pp 1523-1530.
Interests and Current Research Projects
Adapting two assessment tools to measure language development in Swedish, SeSotho and SeTswana Speaking children from 8 to 36 months. National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF)/ Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) Science (2017-2019)
Collaborators: Michelle Pascoe Dept. of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cape Town, Christina Samueslson, University of Linköping, Sweden
Training and knowledge exchange in early Bantu language development
Assessment. Newton Mobility Grant (2016-2017)
Collaborator: Katie Alcock, Psychology, Lancaster University, UK.
Understanding of Thinking for Speaking in Xhosa Language Speakers Learning English in South Africa (2015-2017)
Collaborator: Gale Stam, National Louis University, Chicago, USA.
Gesture and language development across Romance and Bantu languages (2014-2017)
European Union Marie Curie IRSES
Jean-Marc Colletta, Lidilem Linguistics Lab, Grenoble-Alpes University, France
Olga Capirci, Gesture, Language and Developmental Disorders (GLADD) Research Unit CNR Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Rome, Italy
Ramona Kunene, Linguistics, University of the Witwatersrand
Office: Room A17a, AC Jordan Building
Telephone: +27 (0)21 650 2039