This next post is an interview that I had with a Vietnamese man who has been running a Christian icons stand for the past 15 years. I took the opportunity to speak to him and write some notes down when the crowds had reduced and he was quite happy to answer the questions i had for him.
How many/what languages do you hear on an average market day?
Roughly, i hear about 9 different languages a day. I hear Assyrian, Arabic, Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Croatian, Spanish and Australian.
How comfortable/accepted do you feel here? Do you like speaking your language?
I feel very comfortable working here as i have been here for so long, we are like a family. I have made many Vietnamese friends working here and I always speak Vietnamese when i am serving people from my culture as a sign of respect.
Do you feel as though others have a positive reaction to your language?
Yes, because everyone here is from a different culture and so they don’t react in a bad way when they hear me speak. I think this is because they are usually speaking in their language too so they don’t have a reason to get offended and say something rude.
Do you often get non-English speaking customers? Does this affect your behaviour/style, choices you have made?
Yes, i do get people that don’t speak English very well. So i talk slowly and i use simple language like “Hi, what would you like?” and i usually point to the price tag on the item so they can understand. I don’t struggle too much because everyone is very friendly here and if they see someone struggling they will quickly help translate for me.
Have you noticed any change in linguistic trends since you first started?
When i first started working here, there was a larger Vietnamese community living in the area and so they would come here to eat Vietnamese food and shop. But now, i see many more Middle Eastern people like Assyrians and Arabic because they have migrated and live very close to the showground. I get more business now because most of them are Christian and they love to buy icons to put in their homes.
Is there any consistency in the language use of people, stalls and signs?
All the signs here are written in English, but the stall owners always speak their own language when they can and basic English. As you can see, there is not consistency between the many languages that people speak here and the signs as they are only written in English.
Yvonne Gahshan Z5015935