2018 | Group 1

Multilingualism and Code Switching - 11 April 2018


Polylanguage, code switching, and word borrowing 

BY Shimeng Gao

As mentioned in the previous blog, an example of code switching/word borrowing we noticed was the name a few dishes on the menu of a Thai restaurant, 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). And some words borrowed from Japanese on the menu of a sushi vender, ‘Udon’ (饂飩, usually written as うどんin Japanese, is a type of thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine), ‘Donburi’ (丼, literally means ‘bowl’ in Japanese, is a rice bowl dish consisting of fish, meat, vegetables or other ingredients simmered together and served over rice), although everything on the menu is written in English, certain words for a specific type of dish did not exist in the language and had to be borrowed and now is commonly accepted. While I was lurking around, I overheard the staff talking to a couple of customers in English, however, they talk to each other in Korean.

Picture: Sushi vender menu
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 28 March 2018
Language: English ONLY with a few borrowed words from Japanese
Domain: Restaurant/retail

Another example of code switching we spotted is this little Chinese delivery and gift shop. It has both English and Chinese writings on its sign and advertisement, interestingly, the name of the shop is written in simplified Chinese (回国礼品代购店: Souvenir gifts shop) only whereas the advertisement on its wall has the old version of traditional Chinese writings (澳洲有机蜂胶: Dark organic propolis), but most Chinese people would be able to understand both writings.

Picture: Chinese delivery and gift shop
Location: North Maroubra
Date: 28 March 2018
Language: English/Simplified & Traditional Chinese
Domain: Retail store


Same thing we noticed with a recently opened fresh seafood shop, we can see both English, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese on its sign and todays special’s list.

Picture: fresh seafood shop

Location: North Maroubra
Date: 28 March 2018
Language: English/Simplified & Traditional Chinese
Domain: Retail store



By Brigid Hanson

When walking around North Maroubra, it is easy to notice that there is a wide variety of cultures all cohabitating in the one suburb. Outside an Italian restaurant Shim and I spoke to a Hungarian woman while she was waiting at a table for her meal, about code switching and mixing, and her experience with the multilingualism in the suburb.
The woman that at home she her and her family switch between Hungarian and English constantly, and to the point that the she is not aware of any deliberate choices of which language is used within the home. This spontaneous code switching was also occurring with the woman’s friend who she was sitting with, as both, being equally proficient in Hungarian and English, switch between Hungarian and English.

Furthermore, this woman spoke on her opinion on people switching languages in front of others, and how some people deem this to be rude. The woman explained that she never has experienced this as something rude accept when done with the deliberate intension to exclude a person from a larger group conversation. Consequently, the woman continued that that from her experience living in the north Maroubra area, its more common than not for people to speak more than one language, as such people are used to hearing many different languages around them as they walk the streets or sit at a restaurant. She presumes that people who feel affronted by people around them speaking different languages, are not used to multilinguistic areas and are likely to be monolingual themselves. Through this conversation, we found that the woman’s experience of North Maroubra were aligned with the ABS data, in that she explained that when walking around the area she  is likely to hear people speaking French, Greek, and Asian languages that she was unable to distinguish. 

Speaking, even though briefly, with this woman was a fantastic experience for both Shim and myself as the conversation enabled us to have a more inside understand of the language in North Maroubra, and for myself, being a monolingual, it was an amazing insight to the relaxed approach the woman and her friend had to the multilingual environment. The notion of spontaneous code switching, I found intriguing.  


Polylanguaging and Code-Switches

By Kerryn Paasila

As an area that has a large non-English speaking community, and many people who are multilingual, Chatswood is full of people speaking different languages. In this kind of environment, people often use code-switching; shifting from one language to another, often mid sentence or mid conversation.

From what I’ve noticed walking around busy areas of Chatswood, code switching occurs quite often. There are obvious examples that I witnessed in the chosen domain of restaurants.

Example 1:

I was inside a sushi restaurant, looking at the menu. Both this and the signs outside had both English and Japanese writing on them, although English seemed to be the predominant language used. A family (mother, father, and young son) walked in, speaking together in Korean. When the mother spoke to the server, she switched into English, and then when talking to her family continued in Korean.

The exchanges with the server were quick, so it sounded as though she stopped mid conversation, for example: (talking Korean) English: thank you very much (continued Korean). When leaving she spoke to her son and said the words “thank you” in English as well, and then he and father both thanked them in English as well.

I thought this was interesting as in a multilingual space they had the option to address the staff in English, which becomes the chosen common language. In order to maintain this, she had to switch from Korean to English whenever talking to them, sometimes halfway in a conversation. An extra point is that she also made sure her young son did the same thing, dictating to him in English.

Example 2:

Having dinner at a Thai restaurant, I noticed the staff were speaking Thai to each other, and English to the customers. Mid sentence code switching also occurred when they were relaying the orders back to those cooking, with some words added in English- “table one” and “extra hot”, for example. Some of the words in English seemed a bit random, but I think this was actually consciously done to give information to the customer waiting to pay; they would hear again which table they were sitting at, and could have a chance to correct if they hadn’t asked for it to be extra hot etc. Another possibility is that it is easier to always refer to the table numbers in English to avoid confusion.

These kind of interactions happen often, there are many times you can hear people change languages when ordering food, or the staff of the restaurant code-switching when taking the order from a customer and when talking to other workers. Have smaller language groups within a larger multilingual community is what allows this to happen. It allows for people to speak different languages they know and connect differently.

However I spoke to a waitress in one store who said customers at the Chinese restaurant she worked at would often speak to her in languages other than English when she is actually monolingual, without realising she can’t understand. I think that this shows that although English is often the standard “lingua franca” between other languages, it is not always the default for a space.

By Jonay Battle

There is a clear visibility of translanguaging within the Chatswood community. While walking around, I noticed that many of the signs were in different languages which again reflects the vast immigrant community within the suburb. One particular sign I came across was from a hair salon. In the salon itself, there were women speaking to their co-workers in a non-English language but when speaking to a potential customer would use English. In that instance, these women engage in code-switching as a way to continue communication but with different speech communities. That was also prevalent in my conversation with a woman working at the Cosmetic Specialist clinic (pictured below). She decides to advertise in both Chinese and English in order to reach both the Chinese community and those who speak English as well. That also transfers into her practice as she engaged in translanguaging with her employees while I was in the room with her.


Picture: Cutting Edge Hair Salon
Location: Chatswood
Date: 25 March 2018
Language: English/ Simplified Chinese
Domain: Public Signage/Service
Picture: Sydney Cosmetic Specialist Clinic
Location: Chatswood
Date: 25 March 2018
Language: English/Simplified Chinese
Domain: Public Signage/Service



By Kam Yung Fung

I had a walk in Haymarket last weekend. This area is a place where many languages are used for signs, including English, Chinese, Thai and Korean. Though different languages are used, they are located in different areas of Haymarket. For example more Chinese is used in Chinatown and Market City, Thai is used in a particular street where there is a lot of Thai restaurants, and English is used in most of the areas. The languages used in this suburb is super diverse. 

Location: nearby Chinatown
Date: 25/03/18
Language: Chinese, English
Domain: no specific domain

This photo was taken when I was on my way to Chinatown. “POSTERS PROHIBITED” is not only written in English but also translated into Chinese. These bilingual signs are considered to be important due to the increase in numbers of immigrants from China and a greater need of ethnic and linguistic minorities.

haymark2Location: Thai street
Date: 25/03/18
Language: English, Thai
Domain: Restaurant

Along the Thai street, the restaurant Do Dee Paidang demonstrates an example of bilingual sign by using both English and Thai on it. By seeing Thai on the sign, people easily get to know that this restaurant provides a particular cuisine, which is Thai. It is a crucial element by including English and Thai on the sign to attract walk-in business as well.

Location: Chinatown
Date: 25/03/18
Language: Chinese, English
Domain: Bakery

I noticed that many people were queuing for this Emperor’s Puff that the bakery is famous for. By listening the languages that people spoke when they were lining up, I could tell they were tourists instead of locals. When they were ready to order, they immediately code-switched to English or Chinese. After ordering, they switched it back to the original language in which they were using before ordering.

They know that the waiters working in Chinatown understand English and Chinese a lot better comparing to other languages. Code-switching is needed to convey their thoughts to the waiter, which is to order the Emperor’s Puff. They code-switch in a specific time to convey specific ideas, then the original language is being used again as the process of ordering is completed.

Moreover,  the word “Emperor’s Puff” on the sign is borrowed from Chinese characters. The chinese name of this puff is uniquely named where there is not an English term which expresses the meaning thoroughly. The word “emperor “ is therefore borrowed with its meaning.

Attitudes and Language Choices - 11 April 2018
As our group is covering three key suburbs, we each explored restaurants in either Haymarket, Chatswood and Maroubra and took in both visual examples of multilingualism as well as auditory through overhearing conversations. We each conducted casual interviews with workers at these restaurants and through chatting with them, we were able to gain first-hand knowledge of their attitudes and language choices.


Interview by Rebecca and Jasmine
Date: 3 April 2018

We both explored the streets of Haymarket, particularly Chinatown and were taking in both visual and auditory language choices. We were there quite early in the morning so majority of people we overheard were restaurant staff talking to one another. We walked to Campbell Street which is Sydney’s Thai Town and discovered a Thai restaurant Kin Senn where we conducted a casual interview with one of the girls who works there.


Below are some of the highlights from our transcript:

Why did you make the decision to use bilingual signs?
We use bilingual signs for our own good and as well as the customers’. Not all of our colleagues know how to speak in Thai. By using bilingual signs, for instance we can read the course names on the signs by using English with a better pronunciation. The customers then know what we are referring to clearly.

What is your largest demographic/ customer base?
I think it is half half, half is Thai and Asian, another half is English speaking locals. As our restaurant is located in Thai Town, we got quite a lot of Thai customers. But at the same time, there are also a number of offices nearby, so people of different nationalities will also come and visit our restaurant.

Do you speak any languages other than English?
Yes. I used to learn French and Spanish. I did not learn much but only some easy vocabularies. There are a lot of backpackers visiting our restaurant. We sometimes speak in languages other than English to communicate, and sometimes with body language if they do not know the specific terms of food in English.

What language do you mostly used with customers?
I think English and Thai.

Do you have a preferred language to use when you are working?
Of course Thai! We usually have to talk and explain the dishes to customers, for example a detailed explanation of the dish is needed to customers who are allergic to a particular kind of food. We need to tell what ingredients are used in the dish. It is always easy to speak and communicate in Thai, especially when we are trying to explain something to the customers.

Why do people choose English among themselves when they are interacting with people who are proficient in other heritage language?

Some people know that English is the main language to talk to communicate even when talking to other foreigners. However, in my restaurant Thai customers always use their mother language but we know that we come here (Australia) to learn English language but within the Thai community we always speak Thai language together. Some (Thai) customers if they have friend from another country or friends that are students, they will use the English language.

I think if Thai people come here from the same country then they will speak Thai because it is their mother language, they are comfortable.

What attitudes do people have towards language diversity? How do people think or feel about different languages being present within Australia?
I think here education is the landmark in Australia because I think it is open for nationalities and there are a lot of varieties of nationalities like Vietnamese, Lebanese or something like that. So I think the education in Australia is to accept and learn about these nationalities. There are lots of nationalities, I’m from Thailand but it’s very different here and I feel comfortable here now in Australia.

So, according to what you have said do you think Australia is a multilingual society, so there are many different languages and cultures do you think it’s very diverse?
Yeah of course. I think the Australian people are easy going, open-minded and even the Chinese, they were born here. They have Chinese New Year and there’s a big event and everyone celebrates. I have a lot of friends from other countries as well and they all help each other I think it’s better.

The main themes we recognised within the interview was that even though herself as well as other Thai customers were comfortable in English, they would automatically revert to speaking Thai as it’s their mother language, it feels familiar and comfortable and strengthens themselves within the Thai community. However some occasions require her to speak in other languages, such as French and Spanish. Sometimes even body language is used for communication. Code switching and code mixing do happen when she talks to the customers, especially when she needs to introduce or explain a dish.

In regards to her thoughts about attitudes towards other languages, she highlighted that Australia as a whole was focused on the education, acceptance and celebration of othercultures as it is a multicultural landscape. While in Haymarket, a place where a lot of Asians gather, is also a multicultural place. People there do not just conform to their own cultures, but at the same time welcoming western cultures. In a result, people in Haymarket use their heritage languages as well as English for daily communication. But sometimes they still choose to use their heritage language due to convenience.

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this interview and we thought it was very valuable with hearing the thoughts and attitudes of people we would have otherwise not had the opportunity to discuss this topic.



Language Choices/ Interview

By Kerryn and Jonay

Interview with a young male worker at a sushi restaurant with both English and Japanese signs:

What is your cultural heritage?
I was born in Australia but both my parents were born in Japan and moved here after they married.

What languages do you speak?
I speak English and Japanese.

What would you say is your chosen language at home?
When I lived with my parents it was Japanese, this is my first language and they don’t speak English as well as I do so it makes it easier. Now I live with friends and mainly speak English unless I am alone with my other Japanese roommate.

Do you speak Japanese at work?
I don’t speak it to the customers unless they also show that they speak it. Some of the others who work here speak it together and then I will as well, but not everyone does so it’s mainly English.

So if a customer is speaking Japanese as they walk in, would you address them first in English or Japanese?
Hm, I think I would probably say hello in English first but continue in Japanese if they do as well.

If they address you in Japanese, would you be comfortable answering in it too?
Yes of course! I just don’t ever start and assume they only speak Japanese, sometimes customers are having private conversations in Japanese but want to order in English.

Your workplace has multilingual signs with both Japanese and English, do you think this makes any difference to people who come in?
There probably wouldn’t be the few customers we get that can’t speak English if we had no Japanese signs. Having the Japanese writing doesn’t stop anyone coming in at all, just helps those few who aren’t good with English.

If you walked into a restaurant to eat and it only had Japanese signs, would you order in Japanese?
I think it depends whether I hear the waiter speaking Japanese or not. I tend to use English as a default out and about…-actually, if I was with my family I would, but not with my friends.

Do you think you view English as your primary social language and Japanese for with your family or other groups of Japanese speakers?
Yeah. I speak English as if it is my only language until I am in a place where people are only speaking Japanese and then I change. I don’t think of it as not wanting to speak Japanese, it’s just what I’m used to outside of home now, probably since primary school because you can only speak English there.


This interview shows a lot of the views and choices regarding language use for the child of people who have immigrated. While the participant said his first language was Japanese, he only used it in select situations, sometimes still choosing English when he was surrounded by other Japanese speaking people. As he suggested, this is likely because there was an early separation between speaking Japanese with his parents while at home, and speaking English at school, and everywhere else. Because he said he only spoke it when he was alone with his Japanese friends, most likely to ensure everyone is included, we can guess that he would be speaking English in most other social situations. Aside from what he is familiar with, there may also be a subconscious awareness of bias and discrimination from others. Unless directly addressed in Japanese, even within a restaurant with multilingual or purely Japanese signs, he would choose English. This choice is interesting, as it show the importance of multilingual signs within the area may cater more towards monolingual non-English speakers than multilinguals. The abundance of multilingual signage and menus still makes sense, as Chatswood has such a large non-English speaking population, or people who struggle with English- such as the parents of the person being interviewed.


Interview and Lessons
by Shimeng Gao and Brigid Hanson

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 3.16.36 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-04-11 at 3.16.49 PM.png


Name of the restaurant: Maranellos Woodfire Pizza (Neapolitan atmosphere and enjoy the taste of its authentic cuisine)



We wandered on the main street of Maroubra junction just before lunch time, and walked into this Napoli Pizza place, the wait staffs were kind enough to chat with us casually and provided with their experiences in the area.

Below is the gist of our conversation with the 2 wait staffs (since it’s a casual chat with 2 of the staff members and they were very open to talk to us, the audio recording of the conversation was rather long, so instead of having a verbatim transcript, we’d just summarize the significant information we learned):

Q: How would you describe your heritage and what is your background?

One of the staff X (main participant who signed the consent form) we talked to is originally from Indonesia and he’s been working for this restaurant for more than 3 years, we’d say he would the chief of the wait staff members of the restaurant (it seemed like that other staffs ask him for advice when they couldn’t decide something on their own, when we asked for permission to talk to their customers, the female waitress said that she’d have to ask him if it’s allowed).

The other staff Y we chatted with is originally from Nepal. He used to live in London for over 3 years and has only just moved here to Sydney for a few months now, since his brother has been here for over 6 years.

Q: What language(s) do you speak, at work (with co-workers, customers), at home (with family)? How proficient would you say you are in the language(s) you speak?

X’s native languages are Bahasa (the official language of Indonesia) and Balinese (a dialect for Bali), he also speaks English and he rated his English competence a 3 out 5 (very humbly)

Y speaks both Nepalese and Hindi since he was a child (he learnt how to speak Hindi since his hometown is located at the border, so he was able to acquire both Nepalese and Hindi), and he is also quite confident when speaking English, however, his accent is quite unique and easy to spot.

Both of them would normally speak English when they’re at work, to their co-workers and customers, however, when Indonesian customers come to dine in the restaurant, they’d start the greetings and conversation with English, but they find it might be easier and more helpful to explain some dishes in Indonesian for some customers who are not proficient in English.

Q: What languages do you hear the most around here? What is your largest demographic/customer base? Are there any language requirements for the staff in order to work in the restaurant?

The most common language they hear in the environment is still English, with some presence of foreign languages, such as Greek, Chinese, Indonesian (Bahasa), Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, French, etc. A lot of their customers are returning diners, from all age and ethnic groups, from young people, middle aged family to elders, and a lot of the young people they see are Asians.

The only require language is English when hiring, any other languages come as a plus!

Q: What do you think about the multilingual and multicultural phenomenon in the area? Do you find it annoying or consider it inappropriate when other people talk to each other in languages you don’t understand?

Neither of the staff express any negative emotions or attitudes towards the presence of multilanguaging situation in the working environment, or in general public settings. Apart from themselves being non-native English speakers, so that they may occasionally talk to their friends and family in other languages other than English, they particularly stressed that they don’t mind customers talking to each other in other languages, as long as customers are happy!

They also mentioned that it could be troubling sometimes when it comes to ordering or explaining the dish to a customer who doesn’t speak English very well, but modern technology is helping, a lot of customers would just Google it or look it up on the phone and solve the problem.

We also talked to a customer dining there in the restaurant who has been living in Maroubra for years, and asked her about heritage as well as her opinions on the multilingual phenomenon in the area.

Q: How would you describe your heritage and what is your background?

Ms. Z was born in Hungary, and she has been living in Australia for quite some time, with her family.

Q: What language(s) do you speak at home (with family)? How proficient would you say you are in the language(s) you speak?

Z is proficient in both Hungarian, her native language, and English. She admited that she speaks to families and friends in both languages, and would unconsciously switch between the two languages.

Throughout our conversation with her, we agreed that her spoken English is very well, but has a noticeable accent.

Q: What languages do you hear the most around here?

Ms. Z thinks that English is definitely the most common language she’s heard around Maroubra, she also hears French quite frequently, and Hungarian, as well as some other foreign languages she cannot recognize at all, she thinks they might be Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.

Q: What do you think about the multilingual and multicultural phenomenon in the area? Do you find it annoying or consider it inappropriate when other people talk to each other in languages you don’t understand?

Although Z’s native language is Hungarian, she normally chooses to speak to others in English, however, she does make some switch between Hungarian and English without even realizing when she’s talking to someone who also speaks Hungarian.

She’s pretty cool with the fact that sometimes people speaking other languages she couldn’t understand in public, and she agrees that Sydney is a very diversified and multicultural city, so it’s understandable that there would be other languages present in the society.


Overall, we really enjoyed our experience talking to the wait staffs and the customer, and we agreed it was very interesting to learn about their experiences and their thoughts on the matter. We appreciate the opportunity to discuss with people from various ethnic background in the neighbourhood about their attitudes and experiences regarding multilingualism, language choices, and multicultural phenomenon in Australia.

Public Signage and Restaurants - 26 March 2018


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).






Our Chosen Suburbs and the Demographics - 23 March 2018

Our chosen suburbs are Maroubra, Chatswood, and Haymarket, and we will be exploring and conducting interviews in restaurants environment in these areas. We’ve chosen these three suburbs for that we hypothesized their population might be composed with different demographic, socioeconomic and ethnic groups, therefore we expected to find differentiated linguistic landscapes appearing which can be further analyzed and interpreted.

North Maroubra


According to the Census conducted by Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2016, the North Maroubra has a population of 9812, including 48.1% of male residents and 51.9% of women, with a median age of 39. There are total of 2507 families in the area, with a median family weekly income of $2466, and personal median weekly income of $872.


Ancestry wise, more than half of the population (55.8%) were born in Australia, other most common countries of birth were China (5.5%), England (3.3%), Greece (2.1%), South Africa (2.0%) and Indonesia (1.8%), 30.0% of the population had both parents born in Australia and 51.9% of people had both parents born overseas.

marouba 2

Only 59.6% of people spoke no other language but English at home, other most common spoken languages in the area include: Greek 7.3%, Mandarin 5.7%, Cantonese 4.7%, French 2.1% and Italian 2.0%.


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Chatswood has a total population of 24,913, with 47.3% male and 52.7% female. The median age is 34, and there are 6,506 families.
In Chatswood, 32.4% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth are China (20.7%), Korea (6.5%), Hong Kong (5.3%), India (3.5%), and Taiwan (2.8%). Additionally, 73.2% of people have parents born overseas, with just 14.3% of people having both parents born in Australia. Some of the most common countries of parents birth are China, Korea, Hong Kong, and India.

This information translates into the languages spoken in Chatswood. In 62.8% of households a language other than English is spoken, meaning 33.6% of households have only English spoken at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin (22.9%), Cantonese (12.3%), Korean (7.2%), Japanese (2.9%) and Hindi (1.4%).



According to the Census 2016 conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Haymarket has a total population of 7,353, with 48.1% male and 51.9% female. The median age of people is 27, and there are 1,024 families.


While the most common languages used in Haymarket are Chinese (31.9%), Thai (18.3%), Indonesian (5.6%), English (5.1%) and Korean (4.8%). Correspondingly, most people in this place are born in Thailand (20.7%), China (exclude SARs and Taiwan) (18.9%), Indonesia (11.5%), Australia (8.3%), Korea Republic of South (5.0%) and Vietnam (2.1%).


In Haymarket, 80.7% of people have both parents born overseas and only 2.9% of their parents are both born in Australia. Some of the most common countries of parents birth are China (exclude SARs and Taiwan), Thailand, Indonesia, Korea Republic of South and Australia.


People of majority, 20.4%, use Thai as a spoken language at home, followed by Mandarin 20.3%, Indonesian 10.2%, Cantonese 5.1% and Korean 4.8%. A minority, 12.7% of people have only English spoken at home.


An interesting point to note was the relationship between ancestry and language spoken. Although China had the highest percentage of ancestry followed by Thai, Thai had the highest percentage of language spoken. This highlights the high possibility of second and even third generation of Chinese individuals making the decision to speak English was recorded at 12.7% only being spoken at home.

Although Haymarket is well-known for its famous Chinatown in Sydney, it is also home to Sydney’s Thai-town and Korean-town. Although these hubs are on a smaller scale when compared to Chinatown, they are still crucial elements to Haymarket’s identity. These statistics as well as future blog posts will epitomise Haymarket not as a monolingual, solely Chinese space, but as a multilingual domain.



One thought on “2018 | Group 1

  1. Very interesting second blog. I would expect that Haymarket has very multilingual signage, but didn’t know that Chatswood would have it to a similar extent!

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