I was born in Cologne, Germany, a city known for its carnivalesque spirit, and completed my MA degree in medieval literature and Germanic philology at the University of Freiburg, close to the German-Swiss and German-French borders. My PhD studies brought me to South Africa in 1994, and I wrote my PhD thesis on language variation and language ideology in the history of Afrikaans at the University of Cape Town. I first lectured in Germany, then in Australia (Monash University), and returned to South Africa, and the University of Cape Town, in 2006.
My research interests are located within the broad field of African sociolinguistics/linguistic anthropology and I strongly encourage interdisciplinary work. In the past, I have published in areas such as historical sociolinguistics, language contact, language and migration, language and economy, as well as sociolinguistic theory.
Currently I am working on what I call ‘mobile language’, that is, the complex interplay of language, migration/mobility and technology (mobile phones, iPads and the Internet). In this project I have been inspired, in particular, by Edward Sapir, Mikhail Bakhtin and Roman Jacobson (as well as aspects of Jacques Derrida’s work). Over the next few years, I am planning to focus on a number of new topics, including Asian migration to Africa, language and/of desire/fear/trauma, and the social history of language and multilingualism in South Africa.
I'm a Lecturer in the Humanities Education Development Unit at the University of Cape Town. My research interests are: African youth & informal urban language varieties; African languages and migration; globalisation, youth and African languages.
From 2010-2013 I was project leader for the SANPAD-funded project 'South African Informal Urban Varieties: the National Picture', a research project investigating the use of 'tsotsitaals' in South Africa. I've also been awarded a grant in 2013 for the project 'Urban Youth Language in Africa: a multi-sited research collaboration', as part of the Africa Knowledge Project. The project is a collaboration with researchers from South Africa, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Algeria, Ethiopia, the Netherlands and the USA. We are in the process of setting up a collaborative database for the study of urban youth language around the continent.
I also teach and research critical text analysis, academic literacies, discourses and genres as part of my work with the Humanities Education Development Unit.
I work on youth communication, gestural behaviour and social structure among urban township youth, multimodal (speech and gesture) development in South Sotho and the role of gestures in learning. I served as a vice president of the International Society of Gesture Studies from 2002-2005. I have published on the communicative and social functions of gesture, linguistic giftedness, language and ideology, township youth varieties and their social functions and history.
I have been active in the Linguistics section at the University of Cape Town as tutor, research assistant and part-time lecturer since 2007. I am currently writing up my PhD thesis, which is a study about the indexicality of Afrikaans /r/ variants.
My research interests (ad hoc) are: variationist sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology (with focus on how linguistic practices reflect and construct locality and belonging); acoustic and articulatory phonetics; morpho-syntactic variation and change; and research methodologies (qualitative and quantitative).
Born in Pretoria but raised in Cape Town, I came to UCT as a fresh undergraduate in 2005. I loved linguistics since the very first course I took, and I am currently working towards a Doctorate in Sociolinguistics. My research focuses on the acoustic sociophonetics of South African English, but I am also very interested in more formal phonetics and phonology, particularly of African Languages and Afrikaans. I am the research administrator on Rajend Mesthrie’s SARChI chair, where I undertake and support research on the various projects as well as provide administrative and teaching support to the chair. I tutor in UCT’s undergraduate linguistics programme and give the odd lecture series which is something I enjoy immensely. I speak Afrikaans and English, and if I ever have time I’d like to learn another and piano too.