Public signage and visibility in Parramatta:

While exploring around the Parramatta CBD and the surrounding areas of the transport systems (i.e. trains, buses, lite rail), it was notable that English was the predominant language used on signs throughout the suburb. Although there were many monolingual signs (English) in and around the train and bus stations, I found it profoundly intriguing when strolling to the areas that were next to the bus stations.

In the image below, many signs protesting against organ harvesting were plastered on the walls in a number of languages such as Arabic, Spanish, English, Hindi and Chinese. This can be seen on the left of the photo in small writing. In contrast, the signs on the right combine both Chinese characters and the English translation underneath. The next two images are close ups of the middle and far right sign.   



IMAGE 1: (‘Organ Harvesting petition’ in front of Parramatta station)

Written in multiple languages (Chinese, English, Arabic, Spanish, Hindi)

Domain: Transport

A close up of the middle sign can be seen below. Having spoken to one of the petitioners in Cantonese, I have learnt that the sign reads into the history of organ harvesting in China. One of the petitioners had told me that the concept of ‘Falun Gong’ is a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline consisting of moral teachings, meditation and qigong exercises. Its popularity increased by early 1999 and was supported by 70 million practitioners and also the government as it provided many health benefits for Chinese citizens. However, this movement made some government Party members uneasy due to the fact that it outnumbered the Communist Party membership. Its emphasis on traditional values and spirituality were perceived as a threat to the party by some communist. Then in July 1999, ex-Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin launched an intensive, nationwide campaign to “eradicate” Falun Gong by detaining them in labour camps, detention centres and black jails, where torture and abuse were routine. It was also reported that in early February 2017 evidence was found suggesting that in the 200’s, Falun Gong detainees were killed for their organs on a large scale. As a receiver of this message, I felt utterly shocked not only about the news the petitioner had just told me, but the fact that I had not known about this issue as I have a parent who is from China and regularly visits the country.

Picture1.pngIMAGE 2:(‘Protest against Jiang Zemin’ in front of Parramatta station)

Image taken on: 17/03/18

Written in Chinese and English

Domain: Transport

Below is a close up of the sign on the right in Image 1. The text written in both Chinese and English promote a positive message about ‘Falun Gong’, and is positioned in the middle of the sign to capture the reader’s attention and ultimately reflects an image of diversity and peace as evident in the overall image also. As the receiver of this sign, I feel as if this sign was most likely utilised to undercut the depressing tone of the situation or issue that was posed. The colourful humans suggest the idea of diversity among a large population and paired with the English text creates a positive message about the movement they are attempting to advocate.


IMAGE 3:(‘Falun Dafa is Good!’ in front of Parramatta station)

Image taken on: 17/03/18

Written in Chinese and English

Domain: Transport


Information collected by Elizabeth He


Location: Parramatta

Date: 13/3/2018

Language: Chinese

Domain: Transport

This is an advertisement about shipping goods to Australia from China found at a bus stop in Parramatta. The text in the cloud reads ‘Chinese goods to Australia, prices starting as low as $28RMB/500g’. RMB here is an abbreviation for renminbi, the official currency of the People’s Republic of China. The idea that this advertisement is targeted towards people from Mainland China is enforced by the use of Simplified Chinese script, of which I have been informed is used primarily by those from Mainland China in contrast to Traditional Chinese script which is primarily used in Hong Kong. The text on the right reads ‘Direct delivery, arriving at your house with care’. The text on the bottom reads ‘No such thing as goods you can’t ship except for those you don’t know how to’. As the text is entirely in Chinese script (except for the rate), one can assume that the advertisement is targeted mainly towards those from Mainland China who have recently immigrated to Australia and don’t have a very good grasp of English. This is perhaps enforced by what the advertisement offers, the delivery of goods that are maybe not found in Australia and which those who have recently immigrated are more familiar with from their home country. Regardless of whether or not the advertisement is specifically targeted towards Chinese Mainland immigrants, one should acknowledge that this advertisement is intended mainly for those who can read Simplified Chinese script which is primarily used by people in/from Mainland China. It is likely the case, then, that the author of this script is from Mainland China or someone who knows the language of the nation. It’s also interesting that the company behind the advertisement is likely decently established in Australia, having an understanding that the kangaroo is a cultural symbol of Australia.

Information collected by Kenneth Revadulla


Public signage and visibility in Coogee 


Caption: ‘Welcome’ in various languages
Suburb: Coogee Bay Road, Coogee
Author: The Randwick City Council
Date: 15/04/2018
Languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, Mandarin and more
Domain: Bus Stops

In line with our census findings, the vast majority of signage in Coogee was written entirely in English, or had one of two borrowed words from other languages. However, this bus stop was an anomaly. It indicates that there is a small amount of visibility of other languages and would suggest that there will be an increasing tendency to find other languages creeping into the language landscape in Coogee and becoming more visible. This sign says welcome in many different languages (Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German etc), and is an example of the growing acceptance of Sydney as a multicultural city. Particularly significant in a suburb like Coogee.

While it is not uncommon for these languages to be visible in certain demographics of Sydney, such as Arabic in South-Western Sydney and Mandarin in Hurstville,
according to our census data Coogee is still one of the last standing english strongholds in Sydney. However, this sign does reaffirm that things are beginning to change, as it is an official council advertisement. Multilingual signs are more often than not unofficial, however this is a case of top-down signage coming from a recognised institution in the community, giving it a lot of legitimacy. Other council signs, such as the bus stop timetables or street signs, were written entirely in English, so this was the exception, though important when demonstrating the growing recognition of many cultural and ethnic influences in the Randwick shire. It also is a reflection of attitudes surrounding welcoming new ethnicities and languages.

Information collected by Tasha Krasny


In my research of Coogee I searched around the bus stops of Arden Street for any non-English signage, however all there was to find were the top-down messages on the bus stop themselves, along with a few advertisements and graffiti pieces, all of which were entirely in English.

Coogee Oval, 15/3/18, English, bus stop sign

It may be hard to see, but this poster from Transport NSW is entirely in English, which does make sense given that Coogee is a predominantly English-speaking suburb. As this message is meant to express instruction on how to use the bus services to as many people as possible, it makes sense when paired with the census results that it be written in the most widely understood language of the suburb. However as this is so close to a beach I think this might be an unwise decision. While Coogee is not as nationally popular as somewhere like Bondi, Australia is known for its beaches and it’s likely to attract tourists.

Coogee, 15/3/18, English, Lost phone advertisement

This was found attached to the bus stop on the intersection of Arden and Carr Street, it is a message put up by an English speaker attempting to get their phone back. Nothing on this message reads as odd from a grammatical standpoint and there’s no evidence of polylanguaging so we can only assume the author is a native English speaker. Again this is in line with the census results from earlier, very likely that any given posting in this suburb is going to be in English and aimed at English speakers, as travellers aren’t likely to be putting anything up.

Information collected by Hugh McGregor




Caption: Tutoring advertisements

Location: Coogee

Date: 20/03/2018

Language: Chinese, English

Domain: Transport (bus stop)

The above are institutional tutoring advertisement signage written in mainly Chinese.  The visibility of Chinese-oriented material reflects the demand accordingly, hence, indicates the involvement of a certain size of Chinese speaking population in the area.  This is in contrast to our census finding, however, the fact that more than one Chinese-based materials are found in the area of Coogee might be explained by the idea that subsets of population are distributed according to their language communities.  Nevertheless, the domination of the use of Chinese language on the signage could suggest that native Chinese speakers (primarily students and parents, due to the fact that both materials are education-based) as their sole target audiences.

Information collected by Richard Lau