2017 | Group 7

Cross-Cultural Observation - 21 April 2017

It has been interesting to see both the differences and similarities between the religious speech communities which we have studied. It was especially interesting to see the slight differences between the two Jewish Synagogue/community centres seeing as they belong to the same wider speech community. This study supports our hypothesis that speech communities tied to religion would be like a petri dish for multilingualism and diversity in language. “Divine communication” (Spolsky) has shown to be a different spectacle than communication in other contexts, proving to be of large importance in almost all holy texts and prayers.

The thought-provoking finding from our research has been that the two Synagogues and the Hindu Temple Saiva Manram have a much larger focus on languages other than that spoken locally by much the congregation. This is contrasted by the Greek and Coptic Orthodox churches, which seemed to run services either in English or Greek, whichever most its members understand. The Temple and Synagogues on the other hand, all ran services in the language which is connected to the religion – in the Temple’s case Hindi, and the Synagogues in Hebrew. This shows a difference in the connection between language and identity as well as culture when it comes to a specific religion.

It was common throughout all the sites studied that instructional signage and information was most commonly in English, and at the sites which had most speakers of languages other than English, a transliteration or translation into their predominant language. At the speech communities which had their congregants pray different languages specific to their religion (Hini and Hebrew), there was a consensus throughout the interviewees that this allowed for a deeper connection to the text, the history and the culture of the religion. Speaking in languages specific to each person and language community showed that this brought about a stronger sense of belonging and identity to individuals rather than a group.

This study has shown how diverse the religious community of Sydney truly is and how many languages are being practised within these speech communities. Perhaps these are the places where language study and documentation needs to occur.


Tamar Hoffman


Cross Cultural Analysis - 21 April 2017

Sarah Raymon z5088056

We looked at 5 different religious domains, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, the Hindu Temple, the Sephardi Synagogue and the Jewish Learning Centre. Spolsky tells us that language use within the religious domain has a phenomena called ‘divine communication’, and although we see this somewhat in our respective observed speech communities in that each one uses a specific ethnic language for religious purposes, what we overwhelmingly observed was that each of these speech communities seemed to coincide with a particular immigrant demographic. Because of this language serves a very specific purpose beyond simply being a religious communicator.

Because of this, each community is centred around supporting and maintaining ethnolinguistic culture. These sites act as a locality in which these respective immigrant communities can both engage in their culture and language as well as preserve and pass them on to the second and third generations.

Something that we recognised across all of these domains is the fact the ethnic language is spoken under somewhat limited parameters. In all of these communities it seems that English is the dominant language used in social interaction and even signage, and the ethnic language is used in religious ceremony and service, is used somewhat as jargon in the context of code-switchings and is used in social interaction only by recent immigrants or the older members of the community.

This is rather telling of the issues facing these communities. The majority of congregants are more fluent in English and there fore the chosen language in the social realm seems to be English in each case, as the younger generations have less and less connection to their heritage and ethnolinguistic culture outside of this domain and their homes, unless they are also attending a school that supports their culture.



Sephardi Synagogue – Observations and Interview Analysis - 21 April 2017

Throughout the visit to Sephardi Synagogue as well as during the interviews, it was very interesting to see the different language ecology within the speech community. One would think that within such a distinct and specific part of a small community the language variety would be relatively small, but this showed not to be the case.

The community and site itself showed an overwhelming amount of acceptance and welcome to people from all walks of life. This was seen through the warmth shown towards me, and the way in which the linguistic landscape showcases only Hebrew when it comes to prayers but all ‘instructional’ signs were in English, a language assumed to be understood by all congregants, rather than in Hebrew even though most congregants feel most comfortable in that language. I understand this is due to the variance in backgrounds of the congregants and the understanding that the good people who add so much to their community have come from the smallest and most far-away parts of the world.

The locality of the language is only seen through the code-switching in their speaking during services and socialisation. Although I suspect this has happened in some other Synagogues in the Sydney Jewish community as well. Even though the congregation was so accepting and welcoming, it was clear to see that although it was unintended, some people were left out of conversations or left in the dark as to what was going on during services due to the belief that everyone in the room/conversation understood Hebrew and therefore the words did not need to be translated or explained. This was a shame and can often cause some difficulty to create a sense of identity for that person.

During the interview with MM, it was interesting to note that even though he came from India, he found a group of people he could speak to in his mother tongue of Hindi in the small but growing congregation of Sephardi Synagogue. This also goes for SL, who also found a group of people who she could not only speak Hebrew with, but could practice her Spanish as well. This shows a great variety in languages, as well as a cohesive and social way in which people integrate language into their social interactions and ways of making people feel welcome. From my understanding, when a new person joins the congregation they are often introduced to people from their background to assist them in the integration process comfortably.


Tamar Hoffman


Cross-Cultural Observations - 20 April 2017

Our project is focusing on the language use in religious institutes, through the work of my group mates, I have seen a well-presented and comprehensive view of local religious institutes and the analysis about the languages that have been used in these communities. Within the similar research approach, we have visited these religious institutes including Greek church, Coptic Orthodox church, Hindu Temple and two synagogues. Hence, this project provided us with a very diverse context and enabled our group to look into the similarity and differences between the language use in different religious institutes and the cultural communities.

As Spolsky suggested, the divine communication nature has powerful impact on the language use in religious centers. And the important interrelationship between the institutes and the cultural community groups were further displayed in our project. In general, we selected the religious institutes that are mainly formed by immigrants. Thus it can be observed that almost all of these places shared the same functions besides its religious service   , they also played the role as social community, where people can use their mother languages of the cultural community. And often these languages can be multiple and mixed at the same time. Such as the Hindu temple which has multiple languages speakers from India and Sri Lanka, and the Coptic Church which has Arabic, English and Mandarin speakers.

Yet the differences between these institute might reflect on the attitude of the cultural heritage and inheriting of the community culture. In Synagogues, a large number of the people would use Hebrew, code-switching might occurs sometimes, but one feature of the Jewish group is that a large proportion of the younger generation are encouraged to learn and use the language. Also,it can be seen that the cultural heritage that carried by the language was greatly valued in this community. In contrast, the Greek church and the Orthodox church were more flexible with the language using, while the effort that the community in general put on language inheriting might be not as much as the Jewish group.

Overall, this project presented the major similarities and differences between the sites, and provided an interesting perspective on the relationship between cultural community and the language heritage with the religious institutes.


Mingyu Tang  z3475282


Coptic Orthodox Church Observations and Interview Analysis - 20 April 2017

Coptic Orthodox Church Observations and Interview Analysis

When we are talking about the language landscape, the idea of it  might come across as an organic system where the community heritage and living style have been cohered by the language that has been using.

In this Coptic Orthodox church, I have the strong feeling of the multiple functions of this place as a language space, a community center and a religion institution. More than a church that only deliver religion services, it is a place where elders can gather together and talk about their recent life, and also a place for families to bring up their children and have some entertainment like table tennis and various sorts of activities, such as community festivals and language lessons.  The church has a special building structure, as there are actually two churches, the new church on the upstairs was built in early 2007 , it has larger space and only provides English service. While the old church is rather small and only provides Arabic service.

It is fairly interesting to see how the church group allocate the community members and set two churches for providing different language service to full fill the needs of people. The two churches might also indicates that the shift of the dominant language in this community. The official communications in this church are often in Egyptian Arabic and English. Code- switching is very frequently seen in the conversations that happened in this church. Yet, one significant point about the code-switching in this church is that the frequency of code-switching has strong relation with the age group. Science the church has a wild range age group from youth to senior, it can be observed that the code-switching is more often occurred in younger generation. While for the elder generation even an English greeting is rarely to be seen.

This phenomenons may reflect the fact that most immigrant communities are facing, the progressively lose of the language and cultural heritage of the community. Living in Australia which is a country that has limited access to the original cultural environment and shares few cultural similarities with the Egyptian Arabic culture. The younger generations are immersed in a society where English is the dominant language. As I saw at one Friday night, when the grand father were chatting with the priest in Arabic, the kids’ fathers were talking about their trip to the “Easter show” , and the children were running around and speaking only in English.

Although it might sounds melancholy, I found it is hard to say that in the further  there will be more people attending the service in the little old church. Still, it can not be denied that the role of the church as the Orthodox christian Egyptian community center will continue to promote the cultural heritage and community tradition inheriting.


Mingyu Tang



Pictures of the Coptic Orthodox church - 20 April 2017

As it can be observed, the main languages that have been used in this Coptic Orthodox Church includes Arabic, English, Ancient Greek and Mandarin. The majority community that attending to this church is Arabic speaking Egyptians. Thus , Arabic signs, scripts and posters can be seen in many places in this church.

It is very interesting to see that the church offers multiple languages religion services. Services that were offered to mainly senior members, the language use would more likely to be Coptic or Arabic, while for service that deliver to youth group or younger generation of the Egyptian community, the priests often use mixed language with some traditional Arabic greetings and then common English speaking content to priesting.

After I attended the a number of  masses in this church, I realized that the church has a very cultural inclusive atmosphere which encourage people from other cultural background to join in their service. For instance, the church started running a Friday night bible study group for the international students, and the language use in this special group is wide. Students, whom mostly from UNSW, gathered here and read the bible together, one of the most interesting linguistic interaction was that after a while of Bible study, the students began exchanging their own languages, such as Mandarin, Malaysian, Indonesian.

Donation box sign




IMG_5969.JPGReligion scriptIMG_5971.JPG

The post from the church’s social mediaIMG_5982.JPG

Mingyu Tang



Cross Cultural Observations - 20 April 2017

Looking at the observations made by my groupmates I can see many similarities between the different locations. They all matched the expectations I had about the religious domain before the project began.  It is clear to me that these religious centres have a strong attachment to language, this is largely due to the focus on divine communication as Spolsky suggests. For many who practice these religions there is the belief that there is a holy language used for prayer and religious study and other matters should be referred to in one’s native or home language. This was seen in the Hindu temple and the two synagogues. However it has been interesting to discover how linguistically dynamic these religious centres, one could easily believe that the only languages spoken would be English and the language of the religion yet this is not the case. As seen in the Coptic Church there is Mandarin spoken as well, whilst the Hindu temple has speakers of multiple languages from India and Sri Lanka which leads to a lot of language mixing and code-switching. There also was not a clear distinction between the religious and non religious language with many interviewees speaking both the religious and non religious languages in their home and social life. On the other hand the Greek church did have this distinction between the languages  with all services including the sermon being in Greek with the social interactions being in English. This may be because the Greek church community is largely second and third generation migrants which means they may not have enough knowledge of Greek to maintain a conversation. Overall there have been more similarities than differences between the sites which highlight the unique nature of the religious domain as opposed to the nature of the specific sites.

Gabriella Gluch z5017624


Pictures from The Sephardi Synagogue - 20 April 2017

The Torah:

The Torah is the holy text used in the Jewish faith and is also commonly known by other religions as the ‘First Testament’. The word ‘Torah’ means ‘teaching’. Many words of holy texts, people, customs, foods and others have been transliterated commonly into English and used in everyday speech in Jewish communities. Every Torah is different in the way it looks due to each one being made of parchment from a kosher animal, usually a cow. It is written by a Torah writer called a ‘Sofer’. The writing inside the Torah is in the ancient dialect of the modern Hebrew, known as Aramaic. Aramaic is written in the same alphabet as Hebrew, but with some differences in vocabulary. It is interesting to note that Hebrew is one of the only languages to have completely become extinct and then revived to be spoken as an official language today.


Torah Scroll


Close-up of text in a Torah


Torah Scrolls in an Arc



There are several common symbols found around the Sephardi Synagogue. The most common symbol is the Star of David, also known as the ‘Magen David’ which means the protector of David. This comes from the biblical story of David and his shield with the star of David symbol on it. The symbol of the seven-branched candle sticks can be seen around the synagogue as well, as is showcased in most of the images provided. The candlesticks are called a ‘menorah’ which translates to ‘lamp’ in English. The ‘menorah’ is the emblem on the coat of arms of Israel and in the history of Jews has always been a symbol of the light of Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that many ornamental or decorative things found in many synagogues are in fact not words but symbols. This, I believe this is since Jews may come to a Synagogue from anywhere in the world and may recognise symbols above words. The words which can be found along the walls and outer walls in Hebrew are all excerpts from holy texts denoting the holy nature of the site rather than instructing people on matters such as where the bathrooms are, not to smoke, directions, etc.

arc of torah

The Arc for the Torah – with symbols on writings

arc of torah - Copy

Magen David and Menorah on stained glass

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Image of a Menorah on the outside wall of the Synagogue

arc of torah

Wooden Menorah underneath the table where the Rabbi places the Torah when he is reading to the congregation


Signs found around the outside of the Synagogue were almost all in Hebrew, except for some in English explaining directions of how to get into the premises or how to lock the doors. It appears that due to the Synagogue being in Sydney Australia, even though most the congregation speaks Hebrew, the board has made the decision to make the instructional signs in English alone.

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-19 at 1.20.55 PM

Translated from Hebrew: “Sephardi Synagogue of the State of Israel”

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(unclear, but this sign states “please shut the gate” in English)

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-19 at 1.20.58 PM

Translated from Hebrew: “This is the gate to God”

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-19 at 1.21.03 PM - Copy

Translated from Hebrew: “they made a temple and I dwell in it”

WhatsApp Image 2017-03-19 at 1.21.03 PM

Sign in English stating that the premises is patrolled and manned by security guards.


Tamar Hoffman


Cross-Cultural Observations - 20 April 2017

There are many similarities between our different religious institutions. Something that stood out is that English was fairly common in both signs and communication within the institutions, presumably as the most universally understandable option. Communication aiming to instruct or inform was especially likely to be in English.

However a recurring theme was that use of other languages was an important way to maintain culture. Often English was not used at all in religious services, suggesting this is imbued with more cultural importance. As Spolsky points out, “divine communication” tends to be a separate phenomenon to regular communication, sometimes requiring a different language. Jewish institutions tended to use Hebrew and the Saiva Manram tended to use Sanskrit in religious services rather than the first or native language of the visitors. These languages tend to be inherent to their respective religions. In contrast, Christian churches tended to focus on the language of the national heritage of their visitors, as Christianity has a weaker language association.

However, outside of religious services, most signage, socialising and communication tended to be multilingual and include code-switching or at least jargon-type borrowings. Arabic, Greek and Hindi were used in more than one institution. While a more comprehensive survey would be required, perhaps this indicates a large religious demographic in the corresponding cultures in Sydney.


Jenny Browne



Interview Transcript in St.George Coptic Orthodox Church - 20 April 2017

Interview one: 

Mingyu: Where were you born?

Interviewee: I was born in Cairo Egypt.

Mingyu :How long have you lived in Australia?

I : 15Years.

M: What languages can you speak fluently?

I: English.

M: What languages do you speak at home?

I: English and Arabic.

M: What languages are spoken in St. George Coptic Orthodox church?

I: Egyptian Arabic which is the Masri and English.

M: What languages are used during religious ritual?

I: Masri, Ancient Greek and English sometimes.

M: What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

I: English.

M: Do you or your community members switch between languages within a conversation?

I: very often.

M: If so, why is this non-English language used?

I: Sometimes we have some non-Arabic speakers coming around, and sometimes we just need to use the expressions that only exist in English.

M: What is the significance of having this language in this space/why is it important to this community?

I: Because we need to keep the heritage and tradition of our community.

Interview two:

M: Where were you born?

I : Sydney

M: If you weren’t born in Australia, how long have you lived in Australia?

I: 26 years

M: What languages can you speak fluently?

I:  English, Arabic, and French

M: What languages do you speak at home?

I: English and Arabic

M: What languages are spoken in this church?

I:. English, Arabic and some Mandarin.

M: What languages are used during religious ritual?

I: Arabic and Greek mainly.

M: What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

I: Mainly English and Arabic, but we do have some Chinese speaker here.

M: Do you or your community members switch between languages within a conversation?

I: Yes, we almost do it all the time, sometimes it’s just hard to fine the correct words in Arabic, and it’s easier to speak English with each other.

M: If so, why is this non-English language used?

I: Well, we are still one Egyptians community.

M: What is the significance of having this language in this space/why is it important to this community?

I: This is mother language, even though some of us are born here, it is still important for us to keep the cultural heritage and using Arabic is one important approach for keeping our culture.

M = Mingyu Tang

Mingyu Tang z3475282


The Saiva Manram (Sydney Murugan Temple) Observations - 19 April 2017

When I entered the temple, there were at least ten people, despite it being a rainy Monday evening. I believe all were of Indian or Sri Lankan heritage. This suggests it is an important cultural hub. There wasn’t much use of language in the temple, as silence is expected. Therefore most of my information about language use came from my interview.

In the social sphere of the temple, a variety of languages appear to be used based on what is convenient and mutually understandable for those in that particular interaction, with people using their native languages and code-switching at times, following Jørgensen’s multilingualism norm. The speech community is quite multilingual. While there is a slight divide between the North and South Indians, particularly for Hindi and Punjabi speakers, the temple does act as a meeting point where religious similarities are more evident than differences, perhaps lessening the status-fuelled reduction of certain languages that may otherwise occur.

Official communications tend to be in English as this is the most universally understandable option. As soon as I arrived at the temple, someone let me know where to leave my shoes. His use of English suggests it is a kind of default language, at least for those that appear to be outsiders to the temple. Additional languages may be present but generally only when there is a certain cultural facet to the communication – for instance, they were more present on the festival notice than the rules.

As Spolsky states, language use within the religious domain has an additional element of divine communication, and Hinduism tends to use Sanskrit for this purpose. However, in contrast to his finding that modern Hinduism was in general amenable to the translation of sacred texts and communication, I found that within this temple all texts and services were performed only in Sanskrit, which Smriti suggested was important to connect with the religious aspect. This could be related to the temple’s secondary role as a cultural centre, as the officials likely wish to promote the culture and religion in tandem. As Herman Tull states, Sanskrit tends to be learnt as a scholarly second language. Given this information, and the fact that its sole role within this environment is in religious rites and texts, I would suggest that the Hindu religious domain makes a large contribution to the survival of Sanskrit (perhaps in conjunction with the literary domain).


Jenny Browne


Jewish Learning Centre Observations - 17 April 2017

The Jewish Learning Centre North Bondi is a speech community with a strong sense of cohesion and purpose in language. This comes from the religious aspect of this landscape. As Spolsky explains the Jewish view of language is very particular and has changed over the years. It is evident, however, that JLC is typical of the type of community it is. As it is a Modern Orthodox community the rabbi and congregation favour Hebrew for religious services which is seen in Spolsky’s observations, if it was a Reform community there may be a higher use of English. However, it is for all intents and purposes an English speaking community and this is seen in the use of English in informative signs such as the no eating and drinking sign, it is also seen in the preference for the latin script even when as seen in the use of the words “Beit Midrash” on the sign. On the other hand, one can not deny the constant code-switching and borrowing found in the environment. I can not help but recall the exchange I heard in the first minutes of my time at the site, “We are going to have a shiur and then the tehillim.” Here the speaker is using Hebrew words which are religiously dense and meaning dense that they are specifically chosen rather than using the English approximations/translations. In this way the language of the speech community is very purpose driven. The words and language used highlight the cultural cohesion of the community.

It is difficult to truly differentiate between code switching and borrowing, especially with a limited period of observation. I would like to suggest however that the Yiddish words found on the signs of the synagogue are evidence of linguistic borrowing as they are written using English script and syntax. Also there is a limited amount of Yiddish known by community members beyond these culturally linked words. On the other hand the Hebrew words seen and heard are evidence of code switching, this is because there is a greater use of Hebrew syntax as seen in the word “Chaggim” on the sign, and there is Hebrew script found on signs and books throughout the area. As well many members of the congregation will have some knowledge of Hebrew as it is a language taught in schools, they also are required to read the Hebrew script if they want to follow the services. In this way the speech community will be maintained as having some knowledge of Hebrew and an understanding of culturally significant words is a necessity in order to access the culture and religion. Even though the JLC does not offer any Hebrew language classes there is a strong focus on basic Hebrew knowledge in Jewish education which allows the community the flourish.

Looking at the statements made by Spolsky and the evidence found in this particular location one could suggest that whilst this synagogue is not a bilingual community Judaism is a bilingual religion and that this bilingual aspect to the religion has been a key part of language planning and policy to centuries.

Gabriella Gluch z5017624


Pictures from the Jewish Learning Centre North Bondi - 16 April 2017


This is the notice board in the office at JLC. All the information including announcements about food are in English. However there are 2 greetings cards with the front of the card in Hebrew.


These are pictures of prayer book from the outside and the inside. All prayer books in the synagogue have one side of the page in Hebrew and the other side with the English translation. Footnotes however are only in English.


This is a bilingual sign found on a door in the synagogue. The top section of the sign is in romanised letters but is the Yiddish word for synagogue, derived from the German word for school. The rest of the information is provided in English.


This sign is only in English, as you can see it is purely informative and has no religious aspects.


This is a sign found in the kitchen. It uses romanised letters but the words Cholent and Parev are Yiddish words which mean stew and not meat or dairy respectively.


This is a sticker from a catering company that uses the kitchen at JLC, this sticker is on her cupboard in the kitchen. The logo of the company uses Hebrew script and English script to make a face. When read left to write it spells KefChef which means fun chef.


This is a bilingual sign found in the synagogue. The top part is in Hebrew and says Beit Midrash which means house of learning. The second part of the sign is in English however the words Beit Midrash are used again but in romanised script this time. This second part of the sign includes two other Hebrew words Shabbat and Chaggim. It is important to point out that this second word is correctly inflected for Hebrew as it is festival in the plural form.


This is a bilingual plaque found in the library. As you can see it includes both English and Hebrew. It is interesting to note that the English text at the top includes a Hebrew acronym however it is written in romanised script. It is also interesting to note that the dates on the plaque which commemorate the man’s life are both the Hebrew and Gregorian dates.

Gabriella Gluch z5017624


History of Coptic Orthodox Church - 15 April 2017

The St.George Coptic Orthodox Church in Kensington was established at July 1973 in order to serve the community in Eastern Suburbs, it is the first Coptic Orthodox Liturgy prayed in Kensington. The historical background of St. George church has closely relationship with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria which was established early in the early in the first century between 48-61 AD, by Saint Mark the Apostle. The majority of this church community are Egyptian background, mostly first and second generation of the Egyptian immigrants. Egyptian Jews, Coptic Christians and Protestants each accounted for about 5 per cent of the Egyptian population, and ‘a handful’ were Egyptian Muslims. The number of the Egyptian immigrants largely raised after the mid-1960s. In response to the ‘pan-Arabist’ and ‘pan-Islamic’ policies in Egypt in the 1950s, the majority of Sydney’s Egyptian immigrants are Christian.

The church is located at St George church is located at Bowral St, Kensington. Although the Coptic Orthodox belief is not the dominant belief in Egypt, yet the coptic orthodox church in Sydney plays an important role as a local community facilitator and contact to Egypt.

Greek Church: Observations - 12 April 2017

Sarah Raymon z5088056


  1. There seems to be a purpose for this language space, which is to support and pass on Greek culture and language in this English dominant country. As such, these spaces offer language classes. So beyond providing a comfortable space for native Greek speakers, it also serves the purpose of passing down culture and language in an attempt to keep it relevant for the generations that have no personal connections to it beyond heritage.
  2. In this religious institution, while there is a unifying factor of language and an aim to maintain and perpetuate culture, there is still a sense of higher purpose beyond the speech group. This higher purpose is religion. Beyond Greek culture and language, the ultimate actualisation of this speech site is the acceptance of God.
  3. Beyond the speech community there also seems to be a level of responsibility to the wider community, that as a church there exists a responsibility to provide care for any person who needs it. This is reflected in the fact that the church still opens up to all members of the wider community, from any nationality, offering free meals each day.
  4. There is an interesting shift in impetus from when perhaps the Greek community were predominantly immigrants to now when they are almost third Generation Australians. As such both the needs of the community have changed and the role of the speech site has changed. The church once offered English classes as the community of immigrants needed to learn to integrate and engage with English, where now they offer Greek classes as the second and third generations need to actively learn about their heritage. Where once the community offered a place for engaging with familiarity in culture and language now the church serves to offer a space to teach and keep culture alive to a member-base that are somewhat disconnected.
  5. The question of relevance in the newer generation seems to be increasingly difficult as well. As the generations go on there is less of a personal connection to Greek culture and language and as such it is harder to keep these things alive and of course this is reflected in a lack of attendance from the younger generation and a decrease in Greek being spoken outside the church services in the social spaces of this speech community.


Interview with the Rabbi of JLC - 11 April 2017

The following is a paraphrased transcript of an interview at the Jewish Learning Centre in North Bondi. Paraphrase is largely to provide readers English terms and context.

What languages do the members of the congregation speak?

Most people speak English, a minority know Hebrew conversationally but more know only maybe 200-300 words. Several learnt Afrikaans growing up but can’t converse only to joke around. A few individuals/ families speak French/Spanish/Portuguese

What languages are used here?

All the books are in English, Hebrew and Aramaic. If you study these texts the English translations and context provide people with maybe 200-300 words of Hebrew or Aramaic but they can’t go beyond that. All the services are in Hebrew but it is very much an English-speaking environment all information, sermons and lessons are given in English.

Would you say you code switch often? For example say ‘I am going to give the shiur in the beit midrash tomorrow.’

Well I do, but that is because those are the words we use in the religious context. If someone doesn’t understand Hebrew I’ll provide explanation in English. But some of these words are best expressed in Hebrew.

So would you say that these words are more like jargon terms like a computer technician would just say ‘router’?

That is correct

On many of your signs you have these words written with English letters.

Yes but as many of our congregation have some Hebrew understanding we often write Hebrew with the Hebrew letters.

Gabriella Gluch z5017624



Photos of the Saiva Manram/Sydney Murugan Temple - 5 April 2017

A sign in the carpark. The temple-goers are largely Indian and Sri Lankan, so speak a variety of different languages which would be impracticable to individually transcribe on one sign. Of course, some visitors may also not speak any Indian or Sri Lankan language. Given that it is situated in Australia, simple English is the most universally understood option. This is especially important for a sign like this and the following one, which are rules, and therefore need to be understood even by “outsiders” to the temple.


This sign outside the temple has a similar purpose, so is also in English. “Thatchanai” is in Tamil, likely because it is an important cultural aspect of the temple proceedings, but it has an English definition following. Interestingly, “prasatham” (food offerings) doesn’t have an English definition although the general concept is evident from context. Perhaps the management expects that a newcomer to the temple may bring donations but only a regular temple-goer is likely to bring offerings, and that such a person is likely to be Tamil. “Thatchanai” is also part of fewer Indian and Sri Lankan languages than “prasatham” and therefore more likely to require an English explanation. Interestingly, both words use the Roman alphabet. I think this is likely for simplicity and elegance of formatting although it could be anglicised to be less confusing to non-Tamil speakers.







Once again, English is the language of the imperative. The slightly awkward phrasing might indicate that English is not the first language of the sign-writer.



This sign includes and prioritises Tamil, presumably because, as a source of Tamil books and classes, the school will have a higher proportion of Tamil visitors than the temple itself.


This sign also includes and prioritises Tamil. It is slightly unusual that a temporary sign would be multilingual when most permanent signs are in English, but the festival is a cultural and religious celebration so it makes sense to emphasise these aspects through use of Tamil.


Note: When a word is part of multiple languages, I assume the intention was to write in Tamil, given the encouragement of Tamil on the website. However there are some shared words and mutual intelligibility between Indian languages so some words may be inclusive of several Indian languages. For instance, “prasatham/prasadam”, mentioned in the 2nd image, is consistent across Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit (and is “prasada” in Kannada.)


Jenny Browne


Greek Church: Photos - 5 April 2017

Sarah Raymon z5088056

Taking a closer look at the linguistic landscape of this particular domain; focusing on indexicals and what they can tell us about the people engaging with these signs:


Photo 1: Street Sign

This photo shows the name of the Church in both Greek and English. This sign is situated on the front of the building and is deliberately placed in a highly visibale area for passers by to see and understand. The aim here seems to be for this sign to be easily accessible and understandable for anyone in the wider community as well. 


Photo 2: Religious Text

This photo shows a religeous book, entirely in Greek, with no English. This is significant, as the services at this particular church are specifically run only in Greek and as such there is no catering toward anyother speech group within the language space of the church itself. This is an indexical that offers an insight into how this domain is used and for whom it is functioning. 


Photo 3: Public Service Sign

This photo shows a sign written in Greek only which reads “Don’t throw your cigarettes on the ground”. This sign is situtated in front of the building, where passers by can see it. Of course, it is only meant for those coming to the church and not any one outside, however it is interesting as this particular space invites non-Greek speakers to come and have a free lunch. Perhaps this is an announcement that is directed at the Greek members of the community. Perhaps this is an issue that is specifically perpetuated by the Greek speaking memebers.


Interview Transcripts – Sephardi Synagogue - 5 April 2017

Interview one: 

TH: Where were you born?

MM: Bombay India.

TH: If you weren’t born in Australia, how long have you lived in Australia?

MM: 47 Years.

TH: What languages can you speak fluently?

MM: English.

TH: What languages do you speak at home?

MM: English.

TH: What languages are spoken in Sephardi Synagogue? (not necessarily by you – there may be many, list the ones you can think of)

MM: English, Hindi and Hebrew.

TH: What languages are used during religious ritual?

MM: Hebrew.

TH: What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

MM: Predominantly English.

TH: Do you or your community members switch between languages within a conversation?

MM: Occasionally.

TH: If so, why is this non-English language used?

MM: Sometimes to joke around other times those who use it feel comfortable with it.

TH: What is the significance of having this language in this space/why is it important to this community?

MM: Keep heritage and culture.

Interview two:

TH: Where were you born?

SL: Israel

TH: If you weren’t born in Australia, how long have you lived in Australia?

SL: 14 years

TH: What languages can you speak fluently?

SL: Hebrew and English (some Spanish)

TH: What languages do you speak at home?

SL: Hebrew and English

TH: What languages are spoken in Sephardi Synagogue? (not necessarily by you – there may be many, list the ones you can think of)

SL: Hebrew, English, Spanish, etc. (many more)

TH: What languages are used during religious ritual?

SL: Mainly Hebrew with some English explanations

TH: What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

SL: Mainly English, but sometimes Hebrew

TH: Do you or your community members switch between languages within a conversation?

SL: Yes, all the time. Sometimes we switch in the middle of sentences without even realising that we have done it. This can become awkward when someone who does not speak English is in the conversation.

TH: If so, why is this non-English language used?

SL: In Judaism, all of the religious texts are in Hebrew, as well, many of the congregants come from Israel.

TH: What is the significance of having this language in this space/why is it important to this community?

SL: This language symbolises the unification of the Jewish people. It can create small pockets of society outside of Israel which elicits a sense of belonging.

TH = Tamar Hoffman


Tamar Hoffman


Transcript of my interview about the Saiva Manram (Murugan Temple) in Westmead - 4 April 2017

Interviewee: Smriti Sekhar


1. What languages are spoken in this space?

So, the main language used here is Sanskritum but in this particular temple, it would be Tamil which is a very ancient language just like Sanskritum.


2. Does the language used in this space have religious significance?

Yes, yes it does.


3. What languages are used during religious ritual?

That would also be Sanskritum, which is Sanskrit in lay terms.



4. Would you say Tamil is the most commonly used language in other interactions?

In that particular community, yes


5. Is this inclusive of most people in the space?

No, as Hinduism comprises of many linguistic groups that span all of India and Sri Lanka. I am a Kannada speaking Hindu who visits that temple. I have Marathi speaking Hindu friends who visit that temple. Also, Punjabi speaking Hindus would also visit that temple.


6. Are there any linguistic expectations or pressures within the temple? For instance, any discomfort or animosity towards certain languages?

No, the priests and temple executive converse with anyone regardless of their linguistic background. There exists a certain discomfort toward North Indian Hindi or Punjabi speaking Hindus as their language is not widely understood or accepted by certain Indian or Sri Lankan Tamil speaking people

I don’t personally ascribe to the last opinion as I am a speaker of both a South Indian and North Indian language and accept both cultures equally in their own right.


7. What languages are used for social interactions in this space?

Social interactions, that would be based on the ethnicity of the person so they would be speaking in their own language. So, for example, when I visit the temple I would speak Kannada, which is my mother tongue. But other people can speak Telugu, South Indian languages, North Indian languages, it really depends on your ethnicity.


8. Do you or your community members switch between languages with in a conversation?

Yes, we do do that. It’s not to hide what we’re talking about, it’s more to keep the conversation interesting, just for a bit of fun in social interaction between people.


9. Can you give me an example of which two languages?

So I mix Hindi and Kannada, I just find it interesting the North and South combination.


10. Why are these non-English languages used?

It’s more to connect with the religious aspect. Because I find that when I’m speaking in my mother tongue I find that the correct syllables and sounds that come out of me relate to the religious significance of what I’m praying, so that’s why I use my mother tongue. If not that, then I can speak in English at a temple but I’ll just feel a little bit out of place.


11. What is the significance of having this language space or why is this community important?

The significance of having this language space is that it becomes a hub for the community. People come to the temple, they visit, they talk, they meet, they pray, they leave. So the temple becomes a community hub. It’s a confluence of culture.


12. Do you think the varieties of language used in this space encourage inclusivity or exclusivity (or both)?

See that’s a double-edged sword. Inclusivity in the sense that like how I mentioned it does become a confluence of cultures so different South Indian language people meet, different North Indian language people meet but exclusivity in that that is often the divide. Because traditions differ between the North and South, in the religious milieu, North Indians pray differently to South Indians, and South Indians do different traditions to North Indians so in that way it’s a bit different like that but at the end of the day it’s all one religion and we do encourage that this is a community hub.



13. Does this church offer language lessons?

I’m not sure but other temples of this type do.


Jenny Browne



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