Kingsford showcased quite a high level of polylanguaging from the public signs to the conversations I shared with people in restaurants and on the street. A chat with a cashier at a Chinese restaurant with a public polylanguaging sign as shown below provided interesting insight into how she uses Chinese and English in the linguistic landscape.

Caption: Street sign showing translanguaging

Location: Kingsford

Date: 28th March 2018

Language: Mandarin and Chinese

Domain: Restaurant

She had recently moved to Kingsford from Shanghai and has only been living in the area for a year. She works in the restaurant that provides its services in both English and Mandarin from the signs to the menus. She shares that the restaurant receives a dominant number of Chinese/ Mandarin speaking customers so she finds herself speaking Mandarin to be able to adequately serve the customers and make them feel more comfortable. I noticed that when speaking to me she immediately switched to speaking English quite easily. Though it was not to maximum fluency, she was able to communicate to me in English and switch to Mandarin when he had to serve a customer.

This shows that translanguaging is part of our everyday processes of identity construction and negotiation. This is based off a racial dimension; for example, she spoke English when she saw it appropriate and then Mandarin when encountering a Chinese/ Mandarin customer.

Caption: Street sign showing translanguaging

Location: Kingsford

Date: 28th March 2018

Language: Mandarin and English

Domain: Lawyer firm

Administrations and bureaucracies can use language to control their clients and even exclude certain groups of people. The Lawyer firm public sign that we explored earlier seems to exhibit polylanguaging but it seems to lean towards appealing to mandarin speakers since the majority of their immigration work is based in China. In doing so they may filter out anglophones who may not find their services as beneficial to them.

 

Caption: Street sign showing language borrowing

Location: Kingsford

Date: 28th March 2018

Language: Mandarin and English

Domain: Restaurant

The above is an example of language borrowing. The restaurant’s name is translated from Mandarin as Sushicobo. The word sushi has been borrowed from mandarin. This is mainly influenced by the Chinese culture and its food. The food is so widely consumed in the western world that English has obtained it as a word in the English vocabulary.

 

 

Other groups of people I encountered spoke a variety of English that was influenced by an Asian dialect specifically on the accent and pronunciation of words. This is still showcasing one’s translanguaging abilities. This was a trait seen amongst students going home from school or university. Leading u to deduce that they may dominantly speak an Asian dialect at home due to the parent’s attempt to control the child’s linguistic development. But this family language policy may be resisted when the child goes to school or university or any language space where English is dominant and reinforced. In this way, this switch between the family linguistic landscape and the school landscape create a translanguaging identity.

 

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