Berlin Gesture Center | Interdisziplinäres BGC-Kolloquium


Vortrag von Heather Brookes:

Communicative and Social Functions of Gestural Use in Naturally Occurring Conversations among Black Urban South Africans

Freitag, 28. April 2006, 19 Uhr

In Kooperation mit der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder.

Ort des Vortrags: Raum AM 104, Audimax-Gebäude, Logenstr. 2, 15230 Frankfurt/Oder


Using video-recordings of naturally occurring conversations, this presentation examines communicative and social functions of gestural use among black urban South Africans. Data demonstrate that gestures used in conjunction with speech fulfil substantive, interactive, and structural-discoursal functions simultaneously. In particular, gestures play a key role in structuring discourse into meaningful units in terms of information focus and background, and textual meaning determines where gestural phrases and strokes occur. Participant, communicative purpose and social situation also shape the nature of gestural behaviour in terms of occurrence, frequency, style and gestural type. Gestures play a role in textualizing interactions to the large social context indexing social relations as well as local and broader social identities. These findings have implications for explaining gestural behaviour only in terms of narrow communicative and cognitive purposes. Implications for theories on the relationship of gestures to speech and the origin and conventionalization of gestures are also discussed. Data on the emergence of a new conventionalized gesture among South Africans suggest several possible origins and paths by which gestures develop into shared symbolic forms. Some thoughts on what complex multilingual contexts offer to the study of gesture will also be presented.
The presentation will be held in English.