Welcome to our first blog post for the our Linguistics Landscape project!

As it is our first post, we thought it would be appropriate to briefly introduce our chosen domain as well as discuss why we chose it, certain questions we want to explore, our research strategy, and finally our expectations and issues we anticipate we may face before officially starting our project.

Our Chosen Domain

After forming our groups for the first time, we were initially given the suggestion to do Churches as our domain. After discussion, we came to a group decision that we wanted to choose a domain that was a little bit more familiar and accessible to all of us. After discussing potential domains, we finally decided on exploring the linguistic landscape of fast food chains –  in particular, McDonald’s.

One of the reasons why we established this would be a suitable domain is because a lot of social interactions happen here. With that in mind, we can observe social interactions that occur between people of various relationships, including between families, friends and even strangers when, for example, a customer is ordering food.  This enables us to explore aspects such as how language use might differ depending on relationship and even role within the domain.

We also considered the fact that McDonald’s is really well established within Sydney (and in many other countries around the world) and have branches that are well spread out among different suburbs meaning that people from all over the world are familiar with it and therefore we have a diverse population of people from different cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, and age groups to base our research on.

What Will We Explore? 

Before commencing our actual research, we came up with a few questions and areas that we want to look deeper into. Some of these include questions like:

  • What type of languages are used by the staff?
  • Do they exclusively speak English in the workplace?
  • Do non-native English Speakers face issues that get in the way of their work, or has it helped them at all at work?
  • If they speak another language at work, what indicates to them that they should? (i.e. do they need to be told to?)
  • What functions does language have in this domain – not only for the employees, but also for customers?

Our Research Strategy 

We spent some time contemplating whether or not we wanted to investigate the differences between languages used in different fast food chains such as KFC, Hungry Jack’s and Oporto. In the end we decided that we would focus solely on different McDonald’s branches, mainly for the reasons stated earlier – it is arguably the most well established, accessible and familiar to a diverse group of people. We also thought that in some cases, especially when there is a whole lot to research into, it’s more efficient to maintain a narrow focus rather than being too broad.

To tackle this assignment, we came up with a research strategy for collecting data. Each week, 2 people from the group would visit a McDonald’s branch and use observation, interviews and surveys to collect information and data about the topic of exploration for that given week. As a guideline for some aspects we could look into, we used some of the questions given to us in the ARTS3695 course outline.

Expectations and Issues

The fact that this is group work means that we obviously have certain expectations of each other and some anticipated issues we might face throughout the duration of this assignment. To minimize any  problems, we have come up with a team contract prior to commencing the project which we have all signed and agreed on.

In regards to the actual data collection, our main concern is whether or not customers and/or employees would be willing to be interviewed. Employees in particular may be hesitant in being interviewed especially whilst they are busy at work, and so what we could do instead is ask for customers’ insights or look for a staff member who may be on break, or who isn’t so busy with a customer.