Signage on the Streets and In the Restaurant

by Jonay Battle

The Chatswood area serves as a considerable residential and business district of Sydney’s North Shore. The neighborhood is filled with multilingual public signage. While exploring the area, I came across numerous shops that were written in English and then another language based on the type of shop it was.

restaurant and acupuncture supermarket
Picture: Restaurant and Supermarket
Location: Chatswood
Date: 19 March 2018
Language: English/Chinese
Domain: Restaurant/Public Goods and Services

What’s interesting about this area is that there’s a strong influence of Asian cultures in the public signage. The image above reflects the use of multilingual signs to advertise a restaurant, acupuncture and herbal business, and a supermarket. By incorporating both languages, the business owners cater to the vast immigrant community within the neighborhood. It also reflects the high percentage of Chatswood population that do not use English as their primary language while also acknowledging the language most often used in Australia, English.

vietnamese restaurant
Picture: Vietnamese Restaurant menu
Location: Chatswood
Date: 19 March 2018
Language: Vietnamese/English/Chinese
Domain: Restaurant

Because our group is focusing on restaurants as our domain, I had lunch at a small Vietnamese restaurant within downtown Chatswood’s main streets. I found it interesting that the menu had writing in English, Vietnamese, as well as Chinese. Not only does it cater to the Vietnamese and Australian community, the restaurant also offers another demographic to read its menu comfortably. Being aware of the different populations within the neighborhood is an important aspect of business which is what I believe this restaurant has done well.


Chatswood: Focusing on Multilinguistic Signage in Hawker Lane

by Kerryn Paasila


Hawker Lane is a food court/restaurant area at the bottom of Chatswood Westfield that has a huge variety of restaurants with multilinguistic signage. The way in which each language used has visibility in this area varies, some restaurants only use a non-English in the store name sign, while others barely have any English visible at all.

Origin language of restaurant cuisine displayed in store name sign. This may highlight the idea that using the language associate with certain type of food increases authenticity.

Here are some example of these uses:

Left: “Lamb & Cumin”, Location: Chatswood Westfield, Date: 21 March 2018, Language(s): English and Hindi, Domain: Restaurant. All other name signs only had English on them, meaning they use English as a main type of advertising.
Top right: “China Chilli”, Location: Chatswood Westfield, Date: 21 March 2018, Language(s): English and Chinese, Domain: Restaurant. The English writing on this is much larger.
Bottom right: “Noodle Warriors”, Location: Chatswood Westfield, Date: 21 March 2018, Language(s): English and Japanese, Domain: Restaurant.


Multilingual menus and ways of dividing language.

hawker lane 6
hawker lane6“Cheers Cut- Taiwanese Fried Chicken & Seafood”, Location: Chatswood Westfield, Date: 21 March 2018, Language(s): English and Taiwanese, Domain: Restaurant



While the only language in the store name is English, looking at the menu it seems as though the main language is Taiwanese. Each item is listed in Taiwanese first, much larger than the English translation below. However, it still includes both and there is nothing left untranslated. This seems to be the case for many restaurants in this area- with the wide amount of languages used English is a safe backup or common ground, even if it is the second language of both people communicating.

hawker lane8hawker lane9

“Mao Cai”, Location: Chatswood Westfield, Date: 21 March 2018, Language(s): English and Chinese, Domain: Restaurant.

This example is slightly different from the last as each language is printed on a separate menu, and that is the only writing in English on any sign of the restaurant, but there are multiple Chinese. It does not seem to be actively catering towards an English speaking customer. This suggests most of the people going here are Chinese speaking, which seems likely considering the ABS data.



The Restaurants of Haymarket

by Kam Yan Fung

Beijing Restaurant
Location (suburb): Haymarket
Date: 18th March 2018
Language: Chinese and English
Domain: Restaurant


Pictured above is the menu of a Chinese restaurant. Both Chinese and English are used showing that the owner of the restaurant wants to accommodate people living in Haymarket, who are mostly multilingual speakers. By using a multilingual menu, the restaurant benefits by attracting more customers as more people are able to understand the words written on the menu. Another interesting point to note is photos are also included to assist customers who do not know how to read both Chinese and English.

Moreover, one thing that might be neglected is the logo of the restaurant. Though the words printed on the menu are shown in both Chinese and English, they still try to keep its logo in Chinese which is their home language. They also include some phrases written in Chinese characters on the top right corner. These inconspicuous acts reveal that the Chinese identity is still kept.

Lean-Lounge Thai Street Food Bar & Restaurant
Location (suburb): Haymarket
Date: 18th March 2018
Language: Thai and English
Domain: Restaurant



The menu layout of this Thai restaurant is noticeably quite different from the Chinese restaurant above. Thai and English are both used on the menu of this Thai restaurant. However, the sequence of language use on the menu is just opposite from the Chinese restaurant. The Chinese restaurant put the name of the dish in Chinese first, then a translation of English right below the Chinese characters. In fact, on this menu, they try to put the name of the dish in English first, then translate it in Thai in the bracket followed by. The English characters are also slightly larger than the Thai characters. This little difference allows us to discover that this restaurant is trying to promote its food culture by using a language (English) that more people understand and use when comparing to Thai. Also, people normally look at the first few characters of each role first, then the ones in the bracket. This menu layout easily catches their attention to the dishes that they would like to order. It can be explained that the language proficiency in English of the customers is normally higher than Thai given that English is the community language in Haymarket. As a result, it enables customers to read the menu easily, thus letting more people to know the food culture of Thailand by suiting this diverse linguistic community.


Strolling through Thai Town, Korean Town, and Chinatown

By Rebecca Spiteri

A key pattern I observed while walking through Haymarket’s restaurants was that it was predominantly bilingual with its signage. This included signs communicating operating hours, open or closed, type of tenders accepted and menus. The most common combination of languages were Mandarin or Cantonese followed by an English translation. This was also the trend in Thai town, with evidence of signage in Thai translated to English as well as Korea Town with signs in Korean and English. It is interesting to note that although Haymarket has a predominantly Chinese and Thai demographic, that there was a lack of monolingual signs in Chinese or Thai exclusively. This may be due to the fact that Haymarket, particularly China Town is a very popular tourist destination so it is important for restaurants to cater to this. The order of the language placement on these signs is also interesting to note. On menus, the main pattern was that Mandarin was written first followed by English, as oppose to signage communicating operational messages being in the reverse.


Exploring the Neighborhood and Public Signage 

BY: Shimeng GAO

While I was exploring the streets of the north Maroubra, the northeastern shore of Sydney, I discovered that the area is mostly occupied by residential properties, commercial properties such as shops, markets, restaurants, a few health care facilities, and aged care facilities.

I was a little surprised by what I found in regards to the written evidence of multilingualism in the neighborhood: the majority of the public signage is only written in English, including public announcements, garage sale, and rental or employment advertisement, although I could hear people talking in English, Mandarin and Cantonese while I was wondering the streets.

There are quite a diverse choice of restaurants in the area, I’ve spotted a Chinese place, an Italian place, an Indian restaurant and quite a few Thai’s.

A Thai restaurant in the area has only English written on the menu (see below), however, we realized that some of the English words must have been borrowed from Thai, such as ‘TOM YUM’ (Thai: ต้มยำ, a type of traditional Thai hot and sour soup) or ‘TOM KHA’ (Thai: ต้มข่าไก่, a type of spicy and sour hot soup with coconut milk in Thai and Lao cuisines). The same thing we noticed with a Sushi shop, borrowed/created words such as ‘Udon’, ‘Donburi’, ‘Yakisoba’ are on the menu but only written in English.

Picture: MUSE Thai Restaurant menu
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 19 March 2018
Language: English ONLY with a few borrowed words from Thai
Domain: Restaurant




A few Chinese shops and restaurants I noticed have English signs and advertisement, but some of them also have written (simplified) Chinese along with the English writings.

Picture: Chinese Restaurant sign & previous Chinese convenience store
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 19 March 2018
Language: English/Simplified & Traditional Chinese
Domain: Restaurant & convenient store



By Brigid Hanson

Considering the statistics of the area: China being the most common country of birth out of Australia, and Greek being the most common spoken language at home besides English, we sure did see the significant influence of Chinese immigrants and temporary residents on the area, but surprisingly did not notice much evidence of the existence of Greek community.

For the purpose of this project our group, having picked three suburbs to research, decided to split into pairs with each pair researching a separate suburb each. Shim and myself decided to work on North Maroubra.  North Maroubra is mainly a residential suburb with both houses and apartments; the suburb is also home to many cafes, grocery stores, gyms, and other health associated centres.  After analysing the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from the 2016 Census, both Shim and I were expecting to see many visible signs of the multilingualism that was evident in the ABS data. In focusing on restaurants, we had completely anticipated seeing signage (store names, menus etc.) that showcased the multilingualism of North Maroubra, as the restaurants in the area seem to be a central social point for many people. It was surprising then, when walking around North Maroubra that visibility of multilingualism was relatively scarce, especially in regards to the domain of restaurants. With a many differing restaurant cusines, the two restaurants I will focus on are Cheung Sing BBQ, and Betawi’s Kitchen.

Picture:  Cheung Sing BBQ Wall Menu mar
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 24 March 2018
Language: English and presumed Chinese writing.
Domain: Restaurant

A restaurant named Cheung Sing BBQ, was the only restaurant I found to have a language other than English on the menu. (It is interesting to note that the menu only is only in English, but the menu in store has both English and Chinese). Taking this menu into account it is clear that this sign was created for customers who can understand Chinese more so than English; a reflection on the language of the customers as the restaurant owner (the author in this instance) has seen a need to include both languages, meaning that English and Chinese are both necessary to this area.

mar2Picture:  Betawi’s Kitchen Menu
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 24 March 2018
Language: English with borrowed Indonesian words.
Domain: Restaurant

Betawi’s Kitchen, an Indonesian restaurant, was found to only have English writing, however, the names of dishes are a clear example of code switching/borrowing with the Indonesian names amongst an otherwise completely English menu.  It is interesting to note that through food, words to describe certain cuisine can be taken from other languages then become part of common vernacular for other languages.

Overall, we notice, that aligning with the ABS data, there many signs of the Chinese influence on the North Maroubra area. Conversely, the ABS data having presented a high percentage of residents as Greek speakers or ancestry, we did not see any signs of Greek language, nor did we see any Greek restaurant (however, this could just be due to only exploring several blocks).