Last Saturday 1st April 2017, I spent over an hour at the markets, walking around, taking to stall owners, and trying to get and understanding of the markets history and identity, as well as how language was a part of this.
I spoke with an individual who had been around since the beginning of the markets who talked about the alternative nature of Glebe in general, the gentrification over the years, and the original presence of the ‘Hippy Culture’ in 70’s, although I couldn’t glean much information on the linguistic nature of Glebe markets specifically.
Another stall owner, having worked every Saturday at Glebe markets for 20 years, spoke of the continuous diversity present since when they started at the stall. When I inquired about linguistic and cultural trends, she mentioned that it was quite a popular tourist space, and therefore, as I noticed in my observations, one does hear multiple languages being spoken between pairs or groups of visitors. She mentioned that this was potentially due to the fact that it is recommended as a tourist sight, and included in many tours. It is included as one of the highlighted markets on the sydney.com sight here.
When I asked her about the trends of language use and if any issues arose from this, she said it hasn’t differed much over the years, even 20 years ago. The people that visited the markets, while speaking between themselves in their native tongue, tended to all have a good grasp of the English language, and communicated with stall holders in this way. She mentioned how the markets had a “relaxed vibe”, with a diverse mix of international visitors from America, Canada, Europe as well as locals from the city and suburbs.
From this perspective, it seemed that the market while relatively monolingual in signage, was quite linguistically diverse due to the tourist nature. I think that market goers are very acceptive and/or used to the diverse languages present at the markets, it has become ‘normalised’ and so isn’t an issue (on the surface).
Stay tuned for Part 2, involving music and newspapers!