2017 | Group 5

The Rocks- After thoughts - 21 April 2017

Overall, I had expected much less diversity of languages at The Rocks. As someone very new to Sydney, with very little knowledge about markets much less anything here, I let my group choose my location. I presumed it would be primarily English speaking with very little other language use. In some ways we were seeing it as a “control”, but it ended up as nothing of the sort.
While I was surprised by the amount of other languages heard just walking through, it was still mostly English. I heard a few stall owners speaking another language including French and an Aboriginal language, but was never able to really get an interview. The Aboriginal woman’s stall was simply too busy and the French woman wasn’t very social, so I didn’t feel comfortable going up to interview either of them. Another difficulty was finding market-goers to talk to. All the ones I interacted with seemed to be on a mission to find something, or just uninterested in helping in this project. The third issue was that there wasn’t much information elsewhere about The Rocks Market. I think this is due to the rich history about the area, but also the simple fact that it is an area and not simply a market.

An Interview with tourists - 21 April 2017

Last Saturday at Glebe Markets I talked to a pair of individuals who were speaking a language other than English. I talked to them in English and they said they were from Germany travelling in Australia, and were speaking German with each other. I asked about when they started learning English and what they used it for. Both the individuals said they started in primary school (most people in Germany do) and they had continued it all through high school. To me they seemed fluent, but with a noticeable accent. They said they used English to talk with people here in Australia, but also travelling in countries where English was more well-known than their native tongue, i.e where English was a lingua franca for tourists/travellers. One of the girls also said she sometimes posts on her Instagram in English, she said it was kind of ‘cool’ to have posts in English.

I asked the two about Glebe markets. They had found it when looking online for markets to go to in Sydney (they were in Sydney for a week). They found communicating relatively easy, as their English was strong, and found that they only used German between each other, and if they happened to meet any other German travellers.

This interaction opened me up to the idea of the function of the English language for tourists, especially at the markets. Is the English language something they consider part of their identity, or do they purely see it as a functional tool for communication when in English speaking or other foreign countries? I also found the integration of second languages in social media quite interesting, and that this challenged my original idea on English’s functionality.

Sydney Markets: meeting the customers - 21 April 2017

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


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.
  • 4
  • 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

Demographics of Paddy’s Markets and Other Findings - 21 April 2017

Leah T.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, the Sydney Local Government Area – that includes the Haymarket region surrounding Paddy’s Markets, has more than 200,000 people. The most recent available census data (2011) indicates that more than 56% of these people were born overseas; 9.1% in North-West Europe, 9.6% North-East Asia, 8.2% South-East Asia.

Paddy’s Markets certainly seems to represent this diversity of national and linguistic origins. There is a wide variety of cultural and ethnic food and ingredients available at Paddy’s Markets, the greatest diversity of visual representations of language occurs in this linguistic space, typically the names of food and ingredients are translated and/or written in Standard English.

There are two main client bases for Paddy’s Markets the first is tourists who flood the market daily in search of souvenirs and the second is local resident who come in search of fresh produce at bargain prices. With the geographic proximity to Chinatown, many consumers are speakers of one or more Chinese languages/dialects. Also common are languages like Indonesian, Malaysian, Japanese, Korean and Thai. Other tourists languages, predominately from Europe are also frequent at the markets, although anecdotal evidence suggests that these consumers are also more likely to be multilingual with English.

Many stallholders also use this to their advantage by employing multilingual signage.

Stall signage in English, Indonesian and Chinese characters
Interview with Vendor – Mr B - 21 April 2017

Leah T.

How long have you worked here at Paddy’s Markets?

Oh about 10 to 15 years I suppose.

Do you speak any languages other than English?


Any other languages?

Only English.

Do you notice your customers speaking languages other than English?

All the time. You hear them speaking other languages to each other.

Do you know what languages the customers are speaking?

We are pretty close to Chinatown, so Chinese I guess. We also get lots of tourists – Japanese, German and the like.

Do you ever communicate with customers in Turkish?

Only if they speak Turkish. Not very often, sometimes you’ll get a customer who speaks Turkish that’s always good to connect with them.

Have you noticed any changes in language usage over time?

There are a lot more tourists. Some of them can’t speak any English which can be difficult, or they’ve got limited English.

Have you ever noticed any positive or negative reactions to anyone speaking a language other than English?

Most people around here are pretty friendly, almost everyone makes an effort to communicate with the tourists. We only really care if we can’t communicate.

How do you overcome the language barrier?

Usually we just gesture or use written signs, to work out the sizing and payment.

Interview with Vendor – Mrs D - 21 April 2017

Leah T.


How long have you worked here at Paddy’s Markets?

About 10 years.

Do you speak any languages other than English?

I also speak Mandarin and Cantonese

Do you notice your customers speaking languages other than English?

All the time. They come in and speak their own languages. Lots of Chinese languages, but also other languages too.

Do you know what languages?

No, not really, Asian languages – Thai, Malay and Indonesian probably – also from Europe, I’m not sure what ones.

Do you ever communicate with customers in Mandarin or Cantonese?

Yes, some people don’t speak much English, so they come to us to get their fruits and vegetables.

Fresh food customers at Paddy’s Market

Do you ever speak to the other workers or stallholders in Mandarin or Cantonese?

Always in Mandarin.

Is there any particular reason?

We all know it better than English (laughs).

Have you noticed any changes in language usage over time?

Not really, we all speak to each other the same as always.

Have you ever noticed any positive or negative reactions to anyone speaking a language other than English?

Sometimes it is hard if we don’t speak the same language, some of the others don’t have very good English, which can make it hard to speak with customers.

Observations and Interview Challenges – Paddy’s Markets - 21 April 2017

Observations and Interview Challenges

Leah T.

Observations at Paddy’s Markets

Among the stall holders of Paddy’s Markets there is a close knit community: they watch over each other’s stalls to reduce theft and allow short breaks for single owner stallholders. During my observations I noticed that many stall holders speak to each other in languages other than English. Mrs D revealed to me that many stallholders communicate with each other exclusively in Mandarin in her immediate area, Mrs D also regularly speaks with customers in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Mr B reported to me that he finds that regularly there are customers who do not speak any English at all, he believes that this is because of the high number of tourists in the area.

Interview Challenges at Paddy’s Markets

At the markets I had to be aware of the constraints of the area.

I approached vendors who were not otherwise busy with customers, interviews had to be brief and not interfere with the operation of their businesses. I achieved greater success when I spoke with vendors who had multiple people working the stall, during quieter periods.


Sydney Markets: meet the vendors! - 20 April 2017

The main observation I made in my last post was that Sydney Markets has a distinctive wholesale vibe – from the outside, the intention seems more focused on finalising sales rather than a laid back community atmosphere as might be found in the Glebe markets for example. Such an environment informs language use in this space. However, this initial rigid perspective of mine was dropped as I started to interview some of the vendors. I will demonstrate this boy selecting the most relevant parts of my interviews.

Something which caught my eye from a distance was an elderly stall-holder wearing the following shirt:


Aside from being comical, to understand the true witty crudeness of the statement, you need a solid grasp of English. It turned out that the elderly man wearing it was Italian and had very basic English skills. When I approached him to ask a few questions, he struggled to understand my words and immediately pushed his son into the limelight, which made me think maybe ironically he doesn’t understand the meaning on his shirt at all! (I think it’s safe to assume his son had explained its meaning). Nonetheless, the hospitality of the elderly man selling chestnuts shone through – he substituted mutually intelligible spoken interaction with hand gestures to encourage me to try his chestnuts and handed me a small pamphlet (in English) with chestnut recipes.

His son was able to elaborate and explained that most of the vendors at the markets were Asian, Lebanese or Italian. He said the most common languages spoken by the customers were Arabic, Chinese languages, Vietnamese and Indian languages (which roughly matched the ABS data of the linguistic diversity of the Strathfield Council area). When I asked whether he got the opportunity to speak Italian to his customers he replied ‘there aren’t too many Italians who come to this market so I usually help my dad out by communicating in English with our buyers. We have a few Italians who come to us every week and it’s nice for my dad to chat with them. But as you can see (points to his dad’s shirt) he’s a bit of a joker so he messes around with the customers even though he can’t speak much English anyway.’

Vendor 2:


Photo taken with consent.

Above is an image of one of the very few non-English signs I found at the markets (in general there weren’t many signs, but the ones that did exist tended to be in English). This woman spoke quite limited English but was able to tell me she spoke Mandarin. She was very lively but unable to answer further questions so I can assume the sign is duo-lingual for 2 purposes: a) makes the shopping process easier for native Chinese speakers b) by making this sign and appealing to Chinese buyers, the vendor is promoting her business. It is also an invitation to encourage conversation with Chinese people.

Vendor 3:

I spoke to a woman who identified herself as ‘Australian… but with an Italian background’. She said she never had difficulty communicating with customers despite limited language similarities, because it was quite easy to rely on situational factors to understand what either person means. She said she ‘didn’t really pay attention to people’s backgrounds’ which made it seem like she was almost oblivious to the linguistic diversity. This seems unlikely, but more demonstrates that talking about issues of identity and making assumptions is uncomfortable for some people.

It’s a matter of understanding that the transactional nature of the market means that limited linguistic interaction is very common and actually the default, but that even despite significant language barriers, if the opportunity to explore language outside of that arises, it is received well. There is no shame in using variety of languages, but it will of course be limited to particular interactions.

Blog Post 5: Exploring Fairfield Markets- Part 3 - 19 April 2017

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

Blog Post 4: Exploring Fairfield Markets – Part 2 - 19 April 2017

My second visit to the markets found me focusing on the specific languages spoken and the music playing. Because the signage was all in English, i was very interested to see what different interactions i would come across. I presumed that because the majority of residents come from the Middle East or Asia, that would be heard the most. However, i overheard quite a diverse range of languages being spoken.

As soon as I arrived at the front gates, i heard a family conversing in what i concluded was a type of Indian language. I also came across a stall owned by an Italian couple who were comfortable conversing in their own language but were also able to speak basic English with their customers. As i walked around the markets, i noticed that vendors were very comfortable speaking in their native language with customers that spoke their language.

However, what surprised me the most was when i walked past a veggie stall owned by a Vietnamese man who knew how to speak Arabic. He managed to use a Middle Eastern greeting with a few of his customers and was able to count money in Arabic. I thought this was very clever and concluded that because he was selling vegetables that are predominantly used in Middle Eastern dishes. EG: Lebanese cucumbers, parsley and zucchini, his intention was to establish a connection. In terms of music, i walked past a stall selling Middle Eastern music and so they were playing the music that they were selling in order to attract customers. Other then that, i did not hear any other music playing. I observed the markets for about half an hour and managed to hear Vietnamese, Italian, Arabic, Assyrian and Indian being spoken.

All in all, at the end of my visit, i came to the conclusion that the reason why everyone was so comfortable to speak their native language was because it is such a multicultural space and quite a few vendors were selling things that were related to their culture, EG: food, jewellery and clothing. I also decided that vendors and customers chose to speak their native language because it made them feel more at home and were able to create their own little community.

fairfield stall.jpg

Yvonne Gahshan Z5015935

Sydney Markets: the interiors at first glance - 19 April 2017

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.

3Image 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

Glebe in numbers - 18 April 2017

What do statistics tell us about the Glebe demographics over the past 15 years?

As mentioned in my previous post, an individual who had been a part of the markets since it’s inauguration, described Glebe as becoming gentrified, since its original status as a ‘hippy town’. They also mentioned the prominence of the housing commission community in Glebe.

In terms of gentrification, the individual that I interviewed was correct. Since 2001 there has been an increase in people over 55 years of age, 19.2% in 2001, 22.4% 2006, and 23.1% in 2011.

As we are studying the Linguistic Landscape of Glebe markets, I was also interested in individuals who were born overseas and languages spoken at home.

In the 2011 Census, 42.6 % of the population of Glebe, NSW (State Suburb) were born overseas in with an almost identical percentage of 42.5% in Sydney (Urban Centre/Locality). Since 2001, the most common Language Other Than English (LOTE) spoken at home in Glebe is Vietnamese, followed by Mandarin or Cantonese. In contrast, the census of Sydney in 2011 showed Arabic as the prominent LOTE followed by Mandarin (ABS, 2011).

Housing commission is present in the South-Eastern End of the Glebe suburb, with an unemployment rate slightly greater than that of Sydney (6.6% compared to 5.7%), and a median weekly household income slightly less. ($1,350 compared to $1,493)

It is evident that of the Glebe population, and the Urban centre of Sydney itself, almost half were born in an overseas country, and approximately 30% speak a LOTE at home, with Asian languages being the most common. This could in turn present a multilingual community and evidence of diverse language use; the question is whether the market space is a vector for this language diversity.

The Rocks: the fruit farm family - 18 April 2017

While walking through I came across the same logo twice- once with a middle aged man selling dried fruit and honey and the other a young woman selling fudge. I talked to both of them for a little bit, finding out they were father and daughter who make these products on their family’s farm. The dad has been coming for 10 years, about the same as the jeweler, and recently recruited his daughter to help out. One thing I witnessed from his interactions with customers that interested me about the man was that he made a point to speak very clearly and slowly to every customer. He enunciated every sound in order to help people understand what he was saying and help those who didn’t have English as their first language. If the customer responds in English, he will speed up a bit, at least for me. Over the years, he has seen a large diversity of languages, similar to those of the previous two stalls interviewed.

The daughter, still very new to The Rocks, didn’t have the same openness as her father, but made a point about a large Asian community coming around every weekend, but no specifics or how it changes her own language use.

BLOG POST 3: Exploring Fairfield Markets- Part 1 - 17 April 2017

Exploring the signage!

I began my exploration of Fairfield Markets by searching for photographic evidence of linguistic diversity.  Having grown up in the Fairfield City region, visiting the markets when i was a child and exploring the ABS data on the city, I entered the markets with the notion that there would be signs written in different languages to cater to the diverse cultures. (Shown below, is a food stand with signage written in Vietnamese).

vietnamese sign

So, what i found interesting was that despite half of the Fairfield City region speaking a language other than English, there should have been more bilingual signage. The rest of the signage which is depicted below was written in English. Thus, I concluded that the purpose behind the lack of diverse signage was because most residents and vendors can speak and understand at least basic English and perhaps, this is a way of getting the residents and vendors used to communicating in English. Also, although the signage was very monolingual, i was still convinced that there would be a lot of different languages spoken. So stay tuned as my next post will explore the music and the different languages spoken!                                                                                Yvonne Gahshan Z5015935



BLOG POST 2: Fairfield City Statistics - 17 April 2017

Demographics of Fairfield City 

As Fairfield Markets was my market of choice, I decided to some research and explore the demographics of the region in order to give me a deeper understanding of the languages that are dominant and ultimately, spoken at the showground.  According to a report titled ‘Cultural Diversity in Fairfield City’, Fairfield is the 4th largest LGA in NSW by population with a staggering 205,479 residents and a population estimate of 243,651 by 2026. Furthermore, 50.1% of residents are from a non-English speaking background (NESB) which is a large amount in comparison to Australia as a whole which is 16.4%.

The report found that Vietnam and Iraq are the most common places of birth for immigrants and Western Roman Catholic was the predominant religion adopted by Fairfield City residents. In regards to languages, 69.9% = 131, 164 of residents speak a language other than English at home.

Therefore, based on the data examined, I entered the showground with the expectation that Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic and Assyrian would be mostly spoken as well as Asian languages such as Vietnamese and Chinese.  However, this presumption was not wholly reflected when I visited the market. In fact, there was some language diversity other than the dominant cultures reported on which will be explored in the upcoming posts.fairfield data.png

hlSGgxYnpWSFpsRTlQUT09. – Cultural Diversity in Fairfield City

Yvonne Gahshan


Breaking down the demographics - 17 April 2017

Number Crunch

As I mentioned in my introductory post, the Sydney Markets are made up of various distinct markets; I chose to visit the Produce Market to observe the linguistic landscape.

The Markets are located in Flemington, a locality within the suburb of Homebush West, which is a part of Strathfield Council.

Screen Shot 2017-04-20 at 2.38.42 pm.png

Imagine 1the area marked in red is the suburbs of Homebush West

The Markets even have their own postcode, 2129, but the most interesting linguistic information is found by analysing the council statistics as a whole. Based on the 2011 census, the ABS shows 50% of the Council’s residents were born in a country where English was not their first language, which is compared to around 30% of the wider Sydney Metropolitan Region. It thus follows that 61% of residents speak a language other than English at home – the top 5 languages were Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, and Tamil. This is compared to 32% across greater Sydney. 18.3% of residents speak only English at home.

This information paints quite a diverse picture of the Flemington locality and gives an insight into the linguistic landscape I did encounter at the markets.

However, this data must be taken with a grain of salt if taking it to be representative of the demographics of those who engage with the market – as I will elaborate in later posts, the sheer size of the markets allures many customers and traders from across the city so the linguistic data is not narrowed to what is found within Council boundaries. The make-up of people and their languages extends far beyond that.

Shivika Gupta, z5019905

BLOG POST 1: Introduction to Fairfield Markets - 17 April 2017

Chosen market –  Fairfield Markets

When & Where?

  • Every Saturday – from 9am to 4pm
  • 443 Smithfield Road, PRAIRIEWOOD

Telephone: 9725 2333     Fax: 9604 4091

General info:

Since the 70s, Fairfield markets has attracted thousands of customers with approximately 600 undercover stalls ranging from children’s toys and clothes, sports gear, jewellery, household items, fresh fruit and vegetables and fashion garments for men, women and children. Fairfield markets also has several pet stores selling a range of birds and small pets. A wide range of multicultural food is also sold, attracting a melting pot of different cultures with their kebabs, burgers, Asian delicacies, ice cream, donuts, cold drinks and coffee. The market has free entry and ample marking in order to cater for approximately 600 vehicles. Weekly entertainment is provided on other nights of the week with merry go rounds, clown heads and festivals. Being the largest market in Sydney’s West, Fairfield markets stand by their motto “Friendly Family Fun”.


Yvonne Gahshan



The Rocks: The new hat lady - 16 April 2017

Farther along the stalls I met a woman who knits hats of all sizes and designs. She is an Italian woman who has been working at The Rocks for about four years. She hears many languages including, but not limited to English, German, Italian, French, Chinese, Korean and many others. English is still the primary language heard. While she can only converse in English and Italian, over her time working at The Rocks she has learned three to four words and phrases in many other languages, such as “hello”, “have a nice day”, and “thank you”. She uses these as a way to make the customers feel more comfortable and many times will also help with the purchases. While these efforts are well received, they are still not used much. She believes most of The Rocks visitors are tourists but doesn’t believe it is affected much by the cruise ships in the Barbour but more so the tourists who come to stay in nearby hotels. This surprised me due to the proximity to the docking location for cruise ships, but she did have a point.

Interview with a Jeweler - 12 April 2017

While wandering through The Rocks, I began by simply listening for languages. While I heard little snippets of many languages I couldn’t decipher, I believe I heard (besides English) Italian, German, Chinese, French, along with many I wasn’t sure of. While these languages were spoken, I heard no stall workers speaking any non-English to customers.

I began talking to a jeweler who has been working at the Rocks every weekend since ’08. She has begun to learn little snippets of languages in order to relate better to her customers. For example, she has learned the words “cute” and “sweet” in Korean. If she hears these, only then will she ask if they are from Korea. But if she doesn’t, she won’t ask for the fear of offending them. She explained the relationship between Korea and China similar to New Zealand and Australia- Kiwis would get offended being called Australian, while Aussies don’t care as much. She has also learned how to say “thank you”, “goodbye” and “have a nice day” in four or so languages.

When asked about the development of languages at the market, she explained that due to the location of the market, being in a prime trading area, she hasn’t found much change in the language use since she began. It has always been a large range of cultures all coming to see what the market has to offer.

Pictured below: not her stall, simply a picture of  many of the stalls at The Rocks.

Deena Hymowitz



A Day at Glebe Markets: Part 2 - 11 April 2017

While talking to individuals about the linguistic nature of the market space earlier in the day, I will still struggling to find linguistic diversity in action, other than the market visitors communicating in languages other than English, until…

I came across a stall selling South American goods, in which one of stall owners began to play a song on his guitar in language other than English (yet to find out which language). I asked them about the song, and what it meant. He mentioned:

“It’s a song from the Andes, Ecuador, it’s about love”.

He talked about how in this type of music they sing about life, nature, about “the beautiful things that they see”, they places they visit, the people they meet. This encounter really gave me an insight into the pride that can be related to one’s mother tongue, and how individuals may employ music to express their linguistic and cultural identity.

South American stall playing music at Glebe markets

At the final store that I came across, the stall owner was reading a paper in a non-English language. I asked her about it and she said it was a newspaper in mandarin. I asked her about the content, i.e if it’s Australian news, Chinese news etc. She said:

“First it’s Australian news, then Chinese, Hong Kong, and Indonesian.”

She mentioned that she had a good grasp of written English, but preferred to read the mandarin paper as this was her native language.

Newspaper in Mandarin belonging to a stall owner

This gave me a deeper insight into my previous questions on monolingual attitudes, and questions that we formed in class on whether individuals felt comfortable speaking and interacting in their own language. It seemed that just from listening, many individuals at Glebe Markets, feel comfortable speaking their native tongue, and from stall owners, they comfortably switch to English when shopping. People are proud, and even express their language through mediums such as music, willing to share their linguistic identity, and how it is part of their everyday life.

Next time: I plan on having a chat with tourists at the market who are found interacting in both their native tongue, and English. How do they feel about language use, do they fell there are certain attitudes towards their non-English language?


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