Having grown up in Strathfield, which is very close to the Sydney Markets, and being aware of the cultural and linguistic diversity within the Council area as discussed in my last post, I certainly had expectations of the diversity I’d encounter.
When you walk into the market hall, the first and only thing you notice is the impressive size of the location – tall warehouse ceilings sheltering produce stalls for as far as the eye can see.
There is a quick-paced hustle and bustle as people push past with their overflowing trollies to move onto their next shopping-list stop. Mainly wholesale goods are sold which certainly sets up a staunchly transaction-heavy environment. Efficiency is key and bartering is not common as most prices are clearly marked on small cardboard placards.
Image 2: note the incorrect spelling of ‘Maxican’ Garlic – I observed the use of English as almost a lingua franca in a space with so many linguistic backgrounds. This is natural in a predominantly English-speaking society, however it is also due to the fact business efficacy rather than linguistic accuracy is the priority here. So English as the default, albeit being prescriptively ill-used, is the easiest option out of necessity. It is good enough that customers and vendors can ‘basically’ understand what the other is saying in a trade context, without the need for elaborate conversation.
Such a description paints an unfair picture of the market to be unduly impersonal and profit-focused, however, as I will explore in the next post, even despite significant language barriers, vendors were very kind and willing to engage with customers.
Shivika Gupta z 5019905