I’ll start this post off with an interview I had with a patron of the markets.

How long have you been coming to these markets

I’d have to say nearly 15 years. I used to live in the Homebush area and I’ve since moved to Marrickville (around 10km away) but come back every week. You can’t beat the prices here. It’s worth the drive.

Do you speak any languages other than English

Yes I speak Vietnamese.

Do you converse in Vietnamese with some of the stall holders.

Yes absolutely – quite a few of my regular vendors are Vietnamese and it’s nice to have some small talk every week. They all recognise me and I think they’re quite happy to see someone with a pretty strong Australian background still hold onto their culture

Could you expand more on your ‘strong Australian background’

I think unlike some of the other recent Vietnamese migrants, I’ve grown up in Australia and am married to a Caucasian man. So my kids are also mixed race and when I bring them I think there’s a bit of difference between some of the other customers they have

Since you’ve been coming for so long, have you seen a change in languages used here?

I’m not too sure, I’m pretty quick in and out of the markets, but I think it’s always been pretty diverse. I think there were more Sri Lankans before but now I hear quite a bit of Chinese

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The main observation I gathered from this interview was that it’s important to recognise that although the markets are situated in a particular suburb, people come from all over Sydney which affects the linguistic landscape. The ABS statistics aren’t reflective of the actual demographics, but do give a helping starting point.

To finish off I’d like to make some other observations:

  • in many interactions between buyer/seller, the NESB customers would lose their function words when communicating in English, and if the vendors were fluent in English, they would speak slowly and repeat themselves to aid clarity of the interaction. So although there is great linguistic diversity, people don’t face significant barrier in communication as they are conversing about basic topics on which most people have a working knowledge in English.
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  • Above is another one of the very few examples of non-English text I could find. It is a packet of red dye for Greek orthodox Easter. The stall was run by a Greek family. The other example I found was many mushroom stalls selling packaged mushrooms with Korean script. All these stalls were run by Korean women. This shows the diversity of the market is greatly reflecting in the background of the people who run the stalls as they drive the content of the available produce.

Shivika Gupta z5019905

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