2018 | Group 6

Blog 4 – Language choices and attitudes - 5 April 2018

Kingsford (Postcode 2032) – Cong Wang


A Chinese restaurant at UNSW Mathews food court, photo by Cong Wang


I interviewed James (pseudonym), who owns a restaurant retail at UNSW food court in Kingsford campus. His parents were Cantonese but he was born in Australia as a native English speaker.

James says that although he’s not very fluent in Cantonese, he always tries his best to converse it with native Cantonese speakers, as he sees the heritage language as his background – his identity.

Also, he says that the UNSW food court domain is demographically international and linguistically diverse, which he thinks is a good thing because multilingualism usually means multiculturalism, and it’s quite enjoyable to chat with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Finally, he indicates that people who advocate English monolingualism should open their mind because the world is now globalised, so the trend is that you will hear more and more languages in a single setting like in this food court, which we should accept and  rather than reject.


What is your native language?

That would be English, cuz I was born in Australia.


What is your heritage language?

That would be Chinese, more specifically Cantonese.


Do you speak any languages other than English and Cantonese?

I know very basic level of mandarin, and a little bit of Japanese. After native English, it’s not very proficient.


What languages do you speak with your customers?

With my customers, it depends on who they are. I can pick out my customers that are international Chinese. After seeing hundreds of people every day, you can tell where they are from, and what language they speak…


If you can tell they are Chinese, then you speak Chinese with them?


Also their confidence levels. A lot of Chinese international students, they are not very confident speaking English. I know, grammatically, they have good command of English, but they are reluctant to speak it, so I just make it easy for them by speaking their native language of Chinese.


But for other students, you speak…?



Do you use Japanese?

Sometimes. I got a couple of Japanese customers. But I am not fluent, I just say ‘ありがとう’.


What is that?

Thanks. It means thanks.


Has it happened to you that you think they are Chinese, and you speak Chinese with them, but they turn out not Chinese?

It does happen, but not that often. They are just like confused, and that’s when I go back to English.


Are they angry that you mistake with their nationality?

No, no, no. When people are hungry, they just want food, they don’t worry about language.

And a lot of customers for me, I don’t even know what language they speak, I just use sign language (He raised 1 and 2 fingers representing1 choice or 2 choices of dishes.).


What language do you speak with your colleagues?

English, Cantonese and Mandarin, depends on their background and fluency. It’s like hybrid of languages. We find a way to talk to each other. Maybe to someone from the outside, it doesn’t make sense, but for us we have our own system of talking.


Do you switch between languages with your customers and colleagues?

All the time, all the time. Specifically, I would say … like bean sprouts in Chinese is ‘豆芽’. But if I speak bean sprouts to them, they (Chinese customers) probably don’t understand what it means. So I would probably say ‘Would you like some 豆芽 with that?’. And they will be like oh I get it.


So you figure some English words will be difficult for Chinese students?

Yeah, so I switch to Chinese.

Sometimes it’s just faster to say Chinese, and ‘豆芽’ is a lot easier for the tongue than bean sprout.


Will you speak your heritage language with someone proficient in it?

I try my best to. And it’s not always easy, because you find this with lots of ABC kids that their command of that language is not the greatest, and sometimes you feel a bit of embarrassed, but you really got to try to match. And sometimes it gets really difficult, I just switch to English. It’s actually a barrier for me.


What about native Chinese speakers? Do you always use Chinese?

If it comes to specifically Mandarin, I will let them know pretty early on that I speak English more comfortably. But for the Cantonese people, because I got a Cantonese background, I try really hard to speak Cantonese.


Do you think there is linguistic diversity in this food court?

Oh yes for sure, I mean it’s an international place. I got to say though during semester time, it’s about 85% Chinese, my customers, and then the Caucasians, and all the different other races, different cultures. It’s good, it’s great. I love it. I even get some Norwegians sometimes.


Do you hear any other languages spoken here?

Oh yeah, heaps, heaps. Probably like Indians, Nepalese, and German. Very demographic people.


Do you think multilingualism in this food court domain is normal?

Yeah, super normal. I mean universal, people are from all over the world.


You mentioned that you love the linguistic diversity here, can you elaborate?

I just like how… because I work with food, I’m like the kind of person who can’t eat the same food every day. I like different flavors, that’s kind of like different flavors of people. I’m really interested in other people’s cuisine, so like if I get a German person, I will ask hey, what’ s the dish famous in where you are from? You know, you say China, I say which region, if you say Sichuan province, I say hey, how’s the Malatang there? That’s really famous. I am really interested in the food diversity, and that comes from the culture, language diversity.


So language diversity reflects culture?



That’s what you find fascinating?

Yeah, yeah.


Some people have a radical English monolingual mindset, they want only English being spoken in Australia. Do you agree or disagree with them?

I disagree with them, but I understand them. If only they were more educated and they realize that that’s the way the world is. The world is globalized with connections. That way of living is over. I pity them because you know their minds are closed. But if people were to open their minds, like you guys, you guys are linguists. You guys should go educate these people ‘Hey, it’s not that bad, a lot of good things come from it.’


Pagewood (2035) –Xue Han

I interviewed Fei from Tongli Asian supermarket in Eastgarden shopping center. The interview reflects language choices and a certain language community in Eastgardens Asian supermarket. My prior database research shows that there is a certain number of Chinese speakers in Pagewood area, and this Asian retail shop is an important place where Chinese language communities gather. As my participant introduced, all the stuff in the shop are required to speak Mandarin and English, other Asian language abilities can be an advantage. However, English is still the main choice when customer’s linguistic background is unclear. Code-switching and code-mixing happen every day in the shop. Main customer


group of the shop are from the Asian background. However, because it is based in a multilingual community area, the shop has designed a logo, product tag and product description for customers in both Chinese and English. Finally, as my participant has observed, there is a shift of language use in this shop. Two years ago, only Chinese and English are used in this shop. Today there is a more diverse community with a wide range of languages spoken in the shop.


Interview transcript:

Location: Eastgardens shopping centre, Tongli Asian supermarket Participant: Counter retailer
Date: 21/03/2018
Languages: English/Mandarin

1. How long have you been working here?

I’ve been working here for almost 2 years

2. Is there any language requirement when you are recruited to this shop?

English and Chinese are required working here. Because there are a lot of Chinese, especially Chinese students living in this area.

3. Do you mix languages when communicating with your customers? If so, what are the circumstances?

Sometimes, we may communicate with the customer in English first when we could not identify their language background. Then we may continue our conversation in Chinese or Japanese depends on customers. Or sometimes I will tell the price mix with Chinese and English in one sentence.

4. Have you had any customer approach to you and try to speak a language other than Chinese and English to you?

Most of our customers speak Chinese, but there are a few customers speaks Japanese and Korean to me.

5. Do you think this shop is linguistically friendly to all customers? Or does any of your customer has difficulty in understanding the function of any product?

All our staff are fluent in English and Chinese. So, we will help our customers when they need.

6. Have you observed shifts of language use in this shop?

When I started 2 years ago, it’s mainly Chinese and English speakers. But now there are the increasing amount of Japanese, Korean, Indonesian speakers.


Ramsgate Beach (2217) – Alex Anderson

Language Planning Interview Transcript

Date: 7/4/18

Location: Broadway shopping centre

Participant: Malintzin

Languages: English, French, Italian, Italian Dialects, Spanish Portuguese & Arabic

What languages do you speak?

I speak Italian, French and Spanish and I’ve just started learning Arabic.

And what is your relationship with all of those languages?

Italian I’ve spoken since I was born, essentially. I speak a combination of two Italian dialects: Calabrian and Sicilian. I’ve grown up speaking them with family. I’ve also learnt them at school and at university. I’ve just done a 5 month exchange at the university of Bologna. French, my father’s French so he spoke to me in French as a baby but I predominantly learnt it at school and also at uni. Spanish, I started learning in year 7 and I’m learning it at university. I’m doing a major in all these 3 languages. Arabic I’ve just started learning this year about 5 weeks ago.

And how do you use each of your languages in the retail environment?

Well, in my position as a pharmacy assistant at a pharmacy, I mostly speak in Italian… English but also in Italian mainly with members of the Italo-Australian community. So most of these customers were born in Italy and came here in probably the 50s, 60s and 70s and they’re now at quite an old age.

So with my Italian, I have to speak to the customers in Italian, the Italian ones because sometimes, often, their English is not as strong, or they don’t speak English so I speak to them in Italian. Also as people age, especially migrants, they revert back to their mother tongue, which for these people is Italian. So I speak in Italian with them to help them understand what medications they need, what they use it for, provide advice, try and help them find answers about their illnesses but also help them find items in the store. Also, a lot of these Italian might speak standard Italian, but they’ll often speak to me in dialect: Calabrian and Sicilian. So of course I can understand this but I will respond to them in standard Italian but if they don’t understand it I will respond in dialect. Spanish, similar to the Italian… there’s not that many Spanish-speaking customers but there are a few, so I speak to them in Spanish to help them understand what medications they need, what their illnesses are, what it relates to, help them find items in the store, just also friendly customer service in general. I also once spoke to a Brazilian family who obviously speak Portuguese but I spoke to them in Spanish and they were able to understand me. French, I don’t really speak French at the pharmacy because it’s not really a French area. And Arabic, well, I just started learning Arabic.

Why do you think some languages are more important than others in this retail environment?

I definitely would say, for example, Italian is highly desirable, say working in the pharmacy, because where the pharmacy is located is very much an Italian area of Sydney, so there’s a huge Italian community. So in my opinion that is the reason I was hired, because I do speak Italian. And even those in the pharmacy, even some of the pharmacists that don’t speak Italian, they do understand it, and then I’m able to translate for them with the customers. Also, again, providing, especially considering Australia’s a very multicultural country, it is important that we provide services in many languages, not just in English, especially those who’ve come from abroad or who have grown up with a language other than English.

Why do you think multilingualism is important in Sydney – especially in a retail environment? 

Because it allows you to provide the best service possible. If you’re speaking only in English with someone whose first language isn’t necessarily English, or who don’t speak it, or who’s not as fluent in it as, say, their native or mother tongue, you’re not able to provide a good service or the best kind of service. So, I think being able to speak in their language allows you to provide the best service and also allows you to help make sure that they understand what they need. Especially in a pharmacy when you’re dealing with medical conditions, they can actually properly understand what it is and how we can help adjust it.

Is Italian used in any other ways in the pharmacy besides direct interaction with customers? For example, is it written on any medications?

Yeah so sometimes especially with the customers who are able to read – one has to remember that when a lot of these migrants came out, not everyone was literate – we write their medication instructions for when to take medication in Italian, or write what it’s for… colesterol for cholesterol sucurru for diabetes… but it means sugar, I don’t know why. Also I think, one time, I translated for a social worker and a signora who came in, and that social worker specifically came to the pharmacy because they knew that we spoke Italian, or at least I spoke Italian, and they’d be able to try translate for the signora, because she was in her 90s and living on her own.

_ _ _ _ _ _

It’s clear to see that the participant speaks a wide range of Mediterranean languages in her workplace. It’s quite obvious, just from her language use, what the predominant community language of the area is. (While she doesn’t work directly in Ramsgate Beach, she works close by, in a similar Italian community.) Her use of Italian, and especially Italian dialects is actually an attraction of her workplace, and brings in customers. She mentioned that a social worker brought in an old Italian lady specifically because she knew they spoke Italian there.

The use of her language is unsurprising in a retail environment. Italian is used in much the same ways as English: providing customer service, explaining product information, assisting customers in finding the right product, writing down instructions for certain medications.

An interesting thing to note is how Nathalie mixes her languages and language use in her retail workplace. She might hear something in dialect, and respond in standard Italian, or communicate with a Portuguese-speaking family in Spanish. I think this shows that her workplace is multilingual, not just bilingual, and there is a large amount of translanguaging going on in Sydney, especially in spoken discourse, and not just in written signage.

Malintzin considers herself part of the Italo-Australian community, and her language use strengthens this identity and the link between her and her local-community. In this sense, her speech community is the same as her language community, because she lives and works in a major Italian hub in Australia.

Gosford (2250) – Jack Waining

In my fieldwork, I initially found it difficult to find people who do not speak English, or who speak English and use their native language every now and then. I eventually managed to find a café with a Turkish owner named Mahmut. I overheard him talking to a customer in a foreign language, and I asked if I was able to ask him some questions. He was very accommodating, and I was able to interview him.I did not record the interview, however I was able to write notes down, which I formatted into a transcript, although it is not completely identical to the exact interview. The answers that he gave me are worded as closely as possible, and he confirmed what I wrote down afterwards, so it is valid.Below are the questions I asked, along with his answers:Which languages do you speak?

M: Turkish (and English)

Were you born in Turkey?

M: Yes.

How long have you lived in Australia?

M: 5 years.

Do you use your Turkish whilst you are working?

M: I do, as there is a small Turkish community in the shopping centre (Erina Fair); some shop owners, for example, the kebab shop and café near Woolworths. I speak Turkish with them all the time.

I noticed you speaking Turkish earlier with a customer, is this a common occurrence?

M: I have a couple of Turkish regulars, and I talk to them in Turkish all the time.

In terms of language choice, when you are speaking Turkish with another native, are there any circumstances where you would speak English?

M: Yes, it depends who they are with. If they come to the café with an Australian friend, we will speak English so that he/she does not feel awkward. The same goes for my family, my wife is Australian, however I still talk Turkish to my kids when I am around her. It depends on the person, and how well you know them.

Do you mix the two languages together?

M: Yes, when I am speaking Turkish with my friends, we will always add English words if we need to, for reference. Another example is with my children, my son speaks better Turkish than my daughter, and I know how much Turkish she knows, so when I am talking to them, I can use English words so that she can understand.

Is there any scenario where you would incorporate Turkish into English?

M: No, I don’t find it necessary, if I want to use Turkish I just speak it.

In analysing his responses, it became clear that the theories of language choice coincided with the application of Turkish into Mahmut’s everyday life. He does use Turkish at work, but he is restricted to certain environments which are not necessarily in his control. Even in one of the most monolingual parts of Australia, there are language and speaking communities in full force.

Turkish is not one of the more dominant languages in the region, however it still has a thriving community. This shows that the size of a language community does not necessarily impact the functionality of the community.

Lidcombe (2141) – Biljana Popovic


Location: Lidcombe

Participant: Lisa (pseudonym) Cosmetic Retail Assistant

Date: 29/03/18

Languages: English/Korean/Japanese

RE: The ethnics form has been signed and submitted.


It should be noted that people were hesitant to be recorded, despite it only being their voice and the fact that they were also going to be anonymous, the ethics form still did not change their mind about being recorded. However, they were happy to answer my questions orally, with me transcribing the interview. This allowed them to freely express their thoughts and expressions, and thus feel more comfortable to talk about personal experiences and their personal opinions.

Further, our retail sphere made it quite easy to find an individual willing to participate, as despite rejections from some stores, I was bound to come across an individual who would agree to take part in the interview, due to it being such a broad domain.

My participant Lisa (pseudonym) was a retail assistant who worked in a cosmetics store in Lidcombe. She shared details of her background, languages she uses when interacting with people and her general beliefs, experiences and attitudes concerning linguistic diversity. She was interviewed for around five minutes without recording and wished to be reported on anonymously.

Interview Transcript

How would you describe your heritage? Which languages do you speak? How would you rate your proficiency in each language?

I was born in Australia, however lived in Seoul, Korea between the ages of 12-16 as my parents decided to move back due to family reasons. Thus, I consider myself Korean Australian. I speak English, Korean and Japanese fluently, with English and Korean being my native languages and Japanese I speak at an intermediate level.

What would you say is your chosen language at home?

My chosen language at home is a mixture of my two native tongues, we tend to switch between English and Korean. I find it quite funny as often my parents speak to me in Korean and I reply in English out of habit.

Do you speak Korean at work? Are individuals who speak your language at work (a.k.a Korean) willing to respond in the same language if they are aware you speak it?

Yes, I sometimes feel as if I’m constantly speaking it at work because there is a large Korean customer base and community in Lidcombe. Also, my boss encourages me to speak with customers in Korean, and one of the reasons I managed to secure this job was due to the fact I can speak it fluently. Otherwise, I speak English. Rarely do Japanese customers come in store, so I feel like that particular language for me is underutilised in my work environment.

Additionally, I can gauge whether an individual who is of Korean heritage wants to speak in Korean or English, and I adapt to whatever is most comfortable for them, even if they are not fluent in the language they have decided to choose to speak to me in. I say this because many times a Korean speaking individual has walked in store and they struggle to communicate in English, I offer to speak in Korean and they keep persevering to reply in English even though it would be easier for them in Korean. 

Why do you think some customers persevere to speak in English?

I think it’s a stigma within the Korean community, those who come from overseas want to desperately prove that they can speak English as fluently as a Korean individual who was born and raised here. They want to claim that they can speak both equally, however it is obvious that their Korean is stronger than their English, they also want to prove to me that my Korean is not as good as theirs (which is false since I speak both natively), I believe they do this to alleviate the fact that their English is not as strong, and it’s probably a mixture of pride. I notice this phenomenon a lot at work.

What attitudes do people have towards language diversity? How do people think of feel about different languages being present in Australia?

Despite being a speaker of three languages myself, I have a negative attitude to diversity of languages in the public domain. I stress “public domain.” For me, it prevents social cohesion, promotes segregation and instinctively evokes mistrust amongst individuals. Additionally, I believe that different languages create sub communities which exist in isolation and such isolated groups are grounds for division amongst the national populace.  

Why do you feel this way? Why is this your particular attitude towards language diversity?

I feel this way because sometimes I’ve experienced walking into certain shops with signage written wholly in a different language, it makes me feel excluded and in so many words “not welcome.” I like to put myself in the shoes of other people, for instance, individuals who are non-Korean speaking who walk into my workplace, and with majority of the signage and products in Korean or Japanese I can imagine it would feel very uncomfortable shopping there.  

I don’t want to be misinterpreted as being negative towards language diversity, as I realise there are benefits associated with different languages being present in Australia, however I feel that in a public space it should be limited or equal to English to prevent sub communities that exist in isolation. However, overall, I think the general Australian public are quite welcoming to other cultures and open-minded when it comes to learning and associating with individuals of diverse backgrounds, and if not, are actually eager and willing to learn new things about different cultures.


Overall, I found this interview quite enjoyable as I was able to find an individual who understands both cultures quite well from an immigrant background perspective and domestic perspective, similar to myself. Perhaps the most interesting and unexpected part to the interview was the fact that the interviewee held a monolingual attitude towards language diversity in Australia despite speaking three languages herself, being the daughter of Korean immigrants and who had briefly lived overseas.

It should be noted however that she did make clear that this negative opinion stems from negative events she has experienced herself. Although she did not tell me the exact events of what happened, in so many words she described feeling not welcome. Additionally, her workplace experiences proved quite interesting as she was able to demonstrate to me the differences that exist between domestic Koreans (born, bilingual and raised here) vs. immigrant Koreans, and the apparent stigmas involved.

Overall, I enjoyed this interview and I feel as if it was a great opportunity to actively learn about individual attitudes and experiences concerning language diversity and choices within Australia.

Rhodes (2138) – Yimiao Xie

I have tried to interview people within Rhodes Shopping Centre, and luckily I got the chance to talk to a manager from a grocery shop, and also two local residents passed by. Generally, I would say they were all so willing to take my interview, and the answers they gave me are really helpful to my project. And one thing so special about this interview experience is that all three conversations were in Mandarin, this was something I didn’t expect, but it proofs that it’s true there is a large Chinese population in the area. And at the end of these interviews, I found it interesting that their attitudes towards linguistic diversity and their own language choices are different but similar at the same time.

Short conversation with a grocery shop manager without recording_3/4/2018

The whole conversion was in Mandarin, however, English translation is provided below

Question: What languages have you heard the most in the shop?

Manager: Mainly Mandarin, Cantonese and English, they can be heard in the shop all the time. And Korean as well, but it’s usually spoken just between customers.

Question: Do you speak other languages during your work here?

Manager: I can speak Mandarin, Shanghainese and of course, English.

Question: With whom do you speak these languages?

Manager: Usually I speak Mandarin with other workmates, and to some customers as well. English is always used when I am talking to customers. There are not many people coming in and speaking in Shanghainese, but if I heard the language in the shop, and customers needed my help, I would talk to them in Shanghainese of course.

Question: Since you have three language choices, do you prefer speaking any one of them?

Manager: Oh, this really depends on the context, I wouldn’t say I have any preference. For example, I know you can speak Mandarin, it’s not possible for me to talk to you in English, that’s too weird. But we need to speak English with others as well, this is Australia right?

Question: So do you think that English is more like a medium for communication between you and those customers who couldn’t Chinese?

Manager: Yes, if they don’t speak Mandarin or Shanghainese, then of course we need to talk in English.

Question: Is there any language requirement in the shop while hiring people?

Manager: Mandarin and English, these two are necessary, as you know there are many Chinese customers in our shop. And I guess the ability to speak Cantonese could be a bonus.

Question: Do you think Rhodes is a linguistically diverse suburb?

Manager: Yes, I would say so, because you can always hear people talking in other languages on streets, like Mandarin and Korean. And as you know, there are many immigrants settling down in this place, and they keep their languages.

Recorded interviews with local residents C & J (4/4/2018)

Both conversions were in Mandarin, however, translated English subtitles are combined with recordings as video.


Even though the first interviewee (Manager) denied that he had any language preference in his work and daily life, but it’s quite clear that he has a strong confidence in using his heritage languages, those are Mandarin and Shanghainese. But he also mentioned that “This is Australia”, thus, the choice he made to speak English is more like responding to the linguistic context in this country. Manager actually agreed with the idea that English is the lingua franca in Australia.

The second interviewee C had a strong attitude towards using her native language – Mandarin (Chinese), as she mentioned that if she had the language choice, she would choose to speak in Mandarin. Her attitude could be influenced by the typical linguistic environment at Rhodes, as she mentioned that people in this area usually retain their heritage languages other than English.

Then, the third Interviewee J was more open-minded in learning a new language, she obviously showed a positive attitude in engaging with the local non-Chinese communities, as she would try to talk to people in English while shopping at Coles. But her motivation is also understandable, as she’s still an English learner, thus, she chose to use English when possible.

All in all, every interviewee in these conversations had presented their different attitudes in language choice. One thing in common is that they all choose to communicate in their heritage language while talking to their family and friends, just like they chose to communicate with me in Mandarin. I think this is because of the shared language identity we want to practice, even though we are all living in an English-speaking country (Horner & Weber, 2018).


Spolsky, B. (2009). Managing public linguistic space. In Language Management (pp. 65-89). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511626470.005


Cong Wang, Xue Han, Alex Anderson, Jack Waining, Biljana Popovic and Yimiao Xie

Blog 3 – Mixed Language Data: polylanguaging and translanguaging - 29 March 2018

Ramsgate Beach (Postcode 2217) – Alex Anderson

I’m not sure if they still fall under the definition of ‘polylanguaging’ as the texts are produced by a company, not an individual. However, I think it’s still along the same lines, as it is one entity, choosing to make a choice of language in a specified text.

Caption: L&P Lemonade

Location: Ramsgate Beach Fish & Chip Shop

Date: 25/3/18

Language: English & Maori

Domain: Retail

This is an interesting example of language choice. The use of Maori on the can is somewhat limited, and it is only the name of places. It serves an interesting purpose, as more of a cultural icon, reinforcing the brand’s identity. The use of Maori emphasises the iconic New Zealand product’s origins. Also, the use of the diacritics in the Maori script is an added emphasis, as these generally aren’t used in the signs of the towns they correspond to. I would say the ‘author’ and intended market are both mostly monolingual English speakers, and the Maori is used decoratively, much like how Chinese characters are sometimes used more decoratively than functionally in anglicised Chinese restaurants.

Caption: L&P Lemonade

Location: Ramsgate Beach Coles

Date: 26/3/18

Language: English & Greek

Domain: Retail

 I found this interesting pair of contrasting Greek products. To a lot of people, these might both be written off as ‘Greek food & drink’ but their polylanguaging tells the story of two vastly different products. The koulourakia box actually has no Greek script on it at all, even the name of the Greek dessert is written with an English spelling. The soft drink on the other hand, is written entirely in Greek, using the Greek script.

To start, this use of language means that the soft drink is most likely a product made in Greece for Greek consumers, but was imported to Australia. The use of English for the ‘Greek Twists’, on the other hand, suggests that the product was manufactured in Australia, for largely Greek-Australian or Anglo-Australian consumers.

We can also deduce that the intended purpose of the language is different. One could suggest that the Greek on the soft drink is mainly descriptive, and in all purposes related to the consumption and contents of the product. The use of language on the other box is interesting. The name of the brand is written in a font which is reminiscent of the Greek script. This, much like the Maori on the soft drink, gives the brand some identity, and links it to Greece, despite there being no actual Greek-script words on the box. The use of English to write ‘koulourakia’ also links the brand to Greek-Australian consumers, because this is often how they write the word, or at least that’s what I’ve found in my community in Ramsgate Beach.


Caption: Quadrilingual Noodles

Location: Ramsgate Beach Coles

Date: 26/3/18

Language: English, French, Chinese & Japanese

Domain: Retail

Chinese seems to be the predominant language on the box, which isn’t surprising because it says ‘Made in Hong Kong’ at the bottom. It seems to be a mass-produced food product, made for an international market, exported to many different countries. The use of English and French is limited, it just contains the bare minimum that the possible consumer would need: the flavour. Instant noodles are quite common, and most people in the west know how to cook them, so instructions on their preparation aren’t necessary. The use of Japanese is limited to the title, as they are ultimately owned by a Japanese company, and this links the product to its brand.

Lidcombe (Postcode 2141) – Biljana Popovic

The focus this week was to explore the translanguaging in Lidcombe, Sydney, NSW, focusing again on our group’s domain of retail. With reference to translanguaging, the data is centered around language communication, not about the language itself and emphasises the process by which multilingual speakers utilise their languages as an integrated communication system (Garcia, 2009).

Observation 1: Mixed Language Data in Retail (Signage)


Caption: Tip Jar in a Fish Shop

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 26/03/18

Language: English and Spanish

At the Fish shop I noticed that many of the products sold within the shop (alongside the fresh seafood produce) were products of Spanish origin, as I approached the counter I then noticed this tip jar. On the jar itself it includes English and Spanish. This observation is interesting, as the owner of the shop utilised these two languages for the Spanish bilingual or monolingual  customer to link these two languages as an integrated system, highlighting the distinct difference between language and communication.

Therefore, the translanguaging on this tip jar sign enables Spanish monolingual and bilingual speakers to make further meaning of the message, thus allowing the receivers to make full flexible use of their bilingual repertoire in a public space (Reid, 2014).

Observation 2: Mixed Language Data in Retail (Product)


Caption: Japanese sheet mask product in cosmetic store

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 25/03/18

Language: Japanese and English

The translanguaging between Japanese and English paints a clear image to the receiver that this sheet mask is of Japanese origin. The translanguaging on the packaging enables both Japanese speakers (monolingual or bilingual) to make sense of the message and thus maximise its communicative potential.

After walking around the store and observing for a little while, I approached the sales assistant and asked about this particular product (since I was interested in purchasing it for myself). The assistant explained to me that she was selectively importing sheet masks that are written not only in (Japanese, Korean e.t.c) but also English, so that domestic individuals better understand how the product works and not have to constantly ask her for help and assistance when purchasing.

Thus, it was interesting to see the intention behind the use of translanguaging from the company to serve a specific target market and their needs. Therefore, this use of translanguaging enables the company to share and communicate the benefits of their product and get this message across with minimal regard to the watchful adherence to the socially and politically defined boundaries of the Japanese and English languages (Cummins, 2008).

Observation 3: Mixed Language Loose Data Observation at work

Whilst at work, as I am a pharmacy assistant, instead of observing my own languages that I speak to non-English speaking customers in, I casually observed (no recording) the pharmacist in charge speaking Arabic to a regular customer. I was in the dispensary so I was able to overhear his conversation with the woman who came to collect her prescriptions.

Pharmacist in Charge: “lam naraka mundhu muddah, I wondered where you have been”
English Equivalent: “Long time no see, I wondered where you have been.”

Additionally, when asking about why a medicine went up in price, the woman asked:

Woman: “asif! But why is it more expensive?”
English Equivalent: “Sorry, But why is it more expensive?”

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 24/03/18

Language: English and Arabic

The conversation between the pharmacist and the female customer was predominantly in English, and the occasional Arabic phrases thrown in, as shown above in the loose transcription. I observed that words with an emotive/personal connotation were spoken in Arabic for e.g. “Sorry” and “Long time no see” signifying that individuals without even recognising themselves move in and out of English to get the message across (Cummins, 2008). Additionally, it should be noted that both of them are fluent speakers of Arabic, but nonetheless are very strong in English and still used it as their main form of communication.

Therefore, this observation demonstrates that individuals actively use resources from different languages together, with very little regard for what we might call the boundaries of named languages such as “English” or “Arabic.” They are using language together to communicate more effectively, and thus are subconsciously accessing different linguistic features or modes to maximise their communicative potential (Garcia, 2009).

Kingsford (Postcode 2032) – Cong Wang

Data for this blog post on translanguaging public signage is based in Kingsford, mainly the Anzac Parade area near UNSW, and my research domain is retail.

I am personally very interested in language contact phenomena of public signs where two or more languages are used, and syntax, morphology or orthography of one language may be affected by the other embedded. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any signage with typical structural or orthographic change, but there is still a relative example.

Picture 1


Caption: a price tag in a Chinese retail

Location: Kingsford

Date: 27/03/2018

Language: Traditional Chinese, English, Japanese

Domain: retail/food

‘SPECIAL’ is in English without Chinese translation, but the detailed explanation below of the product, a kind of sauce for cooking meat, is in Chinese only, meaning that this sauce is a perfect choice for those Chinese who don’t like the ‘ gamey smell of Australian meat’, so it actually targets Chinese consumers. Therefore, I think the English ‘SPECIAL’ is used symbolically to attract consumers, and the Chinese explanation is truly what the shopkeeper wants to convey.

What’s more interesting is there are two function words from English and Japanese that are embedded in Chinese, which are ‘for’ and ‘の’ respectively. I think these foreign words are correctly used to substitute the corresponding Chinese function words, without affecting the structure of Chinese. But the shopkeeper didn’t use any content words from English or Japanese, which restresses the point that the expected consumers are Chinese, and to add function words from other languages is just to make it interesting and novel, which is a marketing approach. ­­­

Picture 2


Caption: street ads for car sale and room rent

Location: Kingsford

Date: 27/03/2018

Language: Simplified Chinese, English

Domain: advertisement

The two ads above are basically in Chinese mixed with simple English sentences and words. For instance, in the room rent ad, the author used ‘room’ and ‘house’ in English rather than in Chinese, I think this is to make clear the room to rent is in a house, not in a unit or an apartment. In China, we don’t normally indicate whether it’s a ‘house’, ‘unit’ or ‘apartment’, as most people live in only an apartment, and the rich in maison seem never want to rent their rooms out. So, the author here is trying to follow the customs in Australia to point out what type of accommodation it is.

In the secondhand car ad, the owner used English for some technical words, like ‘Sports Body Kit’ and ‘Sensor’, maybe it’s just hard to find Chinese equivalents for these stuff, for they are more frequently equipped to Australian cars. There’s another English word – ‘warranty’, it says the car has a 4-year warranty. We do have a Chinese equivalent – ‘保修’, but the owner still chose English, I think this is about his/her personal language choice of heteroglossic resources, but from another perspective, we don’t usually have car warranty as long as 4 years in China, which means the Chinese ‘保修’ (warranty)may not be as satisfying as the Australian ‘warranty’, so the owner used English ‘warranty’ to indicate better quality and customer service of this Australian car.

Pagewood (Postcode 2035) – Xue Han


Picture caption: Breadtop

Location: Eastgardens shopping centre

Date: 27/03/2018

Language: English, Mandarin

Domain: Retail

 These are two posts in a Chinese bread shop in Eastgardens shopping centre. There are some interesting facts about these posts. On the left-hand side is a post with traditional Chinese and English, saying that breads should be consumed within the day of purchase. However, on the right-hand side, where it says about refund policy, it changes to simplified Chinese. The reason that the shop switches between traditional and simplified Chinese is unknown. But there is a good guess, that is, it intends to cover potential customers using simplified or traditional version of Chinese. In the language community with a large linguistic diversity, shops are using posts to interact with customers with diverse cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, they detailed customers speaking Chinese, and care for those customers by using both simplified and traditional Chinese.

When I observed in the bread shop, I approached to the counter retailer and wanted to see what language she will unconsciously speaks to me. The retail firstly spoke in Chinese (greet: ‘Nihao’, Telling the price “yi gong shi shi san kuai qian), however, when she talks about the bread name (‘Garlic bread’ and ‘croissant’), she switched her language to English. It is interesting that how she uses these two languages in different terms. Daily conversations are made in Chinese, while bread names and technical terms are spoken I English.

Gosford (Postcode 2250) – Jack Waining

In Gosford, it is incredibly difficult to find examples of polylanguaging, however I managed to find a French restaurant in the suburb of Terrigal. The French population of the Central Coast is more concentrated in this area, so it makes sense to have a French restaurant here. The name of the restaurant is written in French, and the description in English. This is possibly to attract the French people to the restaurant as the target audience and also as a measure of authenticity, but the English is included to invite everyone else in.


As seen in the picture, “Le Chat Noir” (The black cat) is written in French, and then “French restaurant” is English.

The same idea can be seen with the menu. Many of the dishes are in French, with the descriptions in English, and certain choices have been made with specific words for different foods. It is clear that French words which have been borrowed into the English language are on display wherever possible, in order to provide as much of a French immersion as possible without disregarding the large English-only population.


Rhodes (Postcode 2138) – Yimiao Xie

As mentioned in my previous posts, Rhodes is a highly multicultural area in Sydney, and the dominant language spoken at home in Rhodes is actually Chinese (Mandarin), hence, this language is highly presented in some retail stores ((ABS, 2016). Just using my personal experience while shopping in New Eastern (the biggest Chinese supermarket in Rhodes), every time when I walked to the counter at the end of the shopping, the cashiers would greed me in English “Hello”, but when I responded with a friendly “Ni Hao (你好)”, they would immediately switch the entire conversation to Mandarin as well. Hence, referring to Horner and Weber (2018), this code-switching could indicate a recognition of our shared language identity, that we are both translanguaging speakers of Mandarin and English, and we have both made agreement to speak with Mandarin. Furthermore, this kind of flexible choice of using languages other than English is quite common in this area, as I could always hear people speaking different languages when I walk around, thus I would say Rhodes is a linguistically diverse suburb.

Photo 1


Caption: A price tag in the Chinese grocery shop. Information in Chinese “Hello, I am white peach. I am cute, please don’t squeeze me, after all I am for eating. Thank you.”
Location: Rhodes
Date: 26/03/18
Language: Chinese, English
Domain: Supermarket

The information contains in this polylanguage sign is quite interesting, as this is not an identical translation between the English words and the Chinese words on this tag. In Chinese, the language employed is much more vivid than its English version of expression, the Chinese part is almost like playing a joke with its customers in a very colloquial way, rather than warning customers not to “squeeze the fruit”, it is more like a dialogue between the “peach” and its consumers. And personally, as a Chinese background speaker I think the language used in this shop is very cute, and it is such a nice way to ask people to be careful while picking fruits. Whereas, the English version is a very straightforward statement, this clearly shows that the shop may have less communicative intention towards those customers who are non-Chinese speakers.

Photo 2


Caption: A price tag written in Chinese and English of a Korean product. Information in Chinese “Special price. Haitai/ Wasabi beef flavor chips.”
Location: Rhodes
Date: 27/03/18
Language: Chinese, English, Korean
Domain: Supermarket

The languages mixing in this photo also reflects the polylanguage environment in retails. However, it seems like Korean is underrepresented on the price tag in this shop, as the product itself is covered by Korean but only Chinese and English are written on the tag. So I would say there is still a limited amount of efforts contributed by the shop owner in promoting polylanguaging. However, in my understanding, this is also understandable as the price tags are offered to its customers who can understand Chinese or English, while the language used on the product package could already serve any Korean speakers.


ABS (2016). 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved from http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/SSC13358?opendocument

Horner, K. & Weber, J. (2018). Language and identity. In Introducing Multilingualism (pp.104-123). London: Routledge.

By Alex Anderson, Biljana Popovic, Cong Wang, Xue Han, Jack Waining and  Yimiao Xie.

Blog 2 – Public Signage and Visibility - 27 March 2018


1. Ramsgate Beach – Alex Anderson


Caption: Trilingual Dumplings

Location: Palace Dumplings, Ramsgate Beach

Date: 18/3/18

Language: English, Chinese (Traditional Characters) and Spanish

Domain: Retail

This was an absolute gem. I found it in a Chinese shop in my suburb. They had a different menu for a bunch of different languages, but I chose the Spanish one because I could understand it better. The author seemed to be the store/restaurant owners because the menu seemed to be cheaply made. However, one of the employees must speak Spanish, or they must have had it translated by a real person, because I didn’t find any mistakes. They still include the Chinese characters (which are traditional, suggesting the store is Taiwanese) and the name of the dish is still a mix of English and Pinyin.

It’s interesting to note the inclusion of the 2 others languages, despite the audience being (assumedly) monolingual Spanish speakers. I would suggest the English/Pinyin words are the names of the dishes as the restaurant knows them, and they give them one name no matter what the menu’s language is – this must assist the waiters relaying information to the cooks in the back. The Chinese characters must only serve a stylistic purpose, as they had another menu of purely Chinese characters for monolingual Chinese speakers. The Spanish text is essentially a description of the product, which makes sense for a Spanish speaker that might know a few words of English, and might be able to sound out the name of the product when ordering, but wouldn’t know how to read a description of the product in only English, so in fact the translation does serve a practical linguistic purpose, and would help a speaker of that language understand what they are ordering.

It was an interesting addition to the store/restaurant, especially considering the relatively few Spanish speakers that live in the area (the ABS says there are a few, but nowhere near Greek or Mandarin). Ramsgate Beach isn’t a tourist hot spot, so I doubt there would be very many Spanish tourists walking in. However, due the Spanish’s status as a widely spoken world language, it would have made sense to include it.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 13.09.27

Caption: Banan-o-rama

Location: Rockdale Asian Market (next to Ramsgate Beach)

Date: 17/3/18

Language: English, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese

Domain: Retail

I’m unsure of what the other languages say, but seeing as all the main information (the title, best before date, net weight and ingredients) is printed in English, I would say this essence’s target are English speakers. The use of language makes the product and its use clear for potential buyers. The author could either be the Thai manufacturer or the Australian importer. I’m thinking at this point that it must be of the importer, because they have printed their own information on the bottle, and not that of the manufacturer.

Vietnamese seems to be the second most common language printed on the bottle, despite its manufacture in Thailand. This could suggest that the Vietnamese is targeted to the storeowners, the sellers of the product, which might likely be Vietnamese first language speakers. As we can see, the product is made for import into Australia, because the name of the importer is printed on the bottle and it has its address in NSW. The Thai might serve its purpose more in the factory. I have no idea what it says, but it might give vital information to factory workers and Thai distributers, that help with its export in the country. It’s clear however, that not enough information is printed in Thai for it to be helpful at all to potential monolingual Thai consumers. I have little idea what role the Chinese would play, as very little is printed on the bottle, but it might play a similar role to that of the Vietnamese, but less so. Its inclusion might be a by-product of the prestige and spread of Chinese influence in the region.



2. Gosford – Jack Waining

English is by far the most dominant language in the region, however there are some signs in other languages, despite only a few languages being displayed. Chinese and French are the only languages I could find actively displayed, with the dominant minority being Chinese. The French used on the Coast is primarily borrowed, and the general Australian populous understands the meanings. The Chinese, however, is a direct translation, assuming no necessary understanding of the English for the readers.




Picture: Ramen Packet
Location: Erina
Date: 20/3/18
Language: English, Chinese, French


Picture: Rice Crackers
Location: Erina
Date: 20/3/18
Languages: English, Chinese, French


Picture: Ice Green Tea
Location: Erina
Date: 20/3/18
Languages: English, Chinese


Picture: Shrimp chips
Location: Erina
Date: 20/3/18
Languages: English, Korean, Chinese



3. Kingsford – Cong Wang

 I explored in Kingsford, mainly on Anzac Parade, for public signage and multilingualism. The languages I observed are predominantly English and Chinese, with a small amount of Korean and Spanish, but I didn’t find any Greek, which ranked the 3rd following English and Mandarin on the census of the percentage of languages spoken at home in Kingsford, 2016.

Picture one


Caption: Street art and posters about giant pandas.

Location: Kingsford

Date: 20/03/2018

Language: English

Domain: Art/animals

The posters and the explanation of the graphics art are in English only. It is made by Randwick City Council to encourage any passers-by to take a selfie with the pandas, and then can win a trip to Adelaide. Obviously receivers of this are anybody who can read English. It is monolingual probably because this is the city council’s tradition.

Further, I think this also signifies that Australian government is currently actively cooperating with Chinese government to bring pandas to Australia, and the cooperation seems to work well, because the explanation reads that ‘…rose is regarded as a symbol of prosperity and honour…the chrysanthemum …is of longevity and health-giving properties’, which can be viewed as a metaphor/expectation for the relationship between the two countries.

Picture two


Caption: A poster of skin-care products.

Location: Kingsford

Date: 20/03/2018

Language: Simplified Chinese

Domain: Retail/chemist

This is the only poster monolingual in Chinese I found in this chemist. Produced by a French company, this face care spray is targeting Chinese consumers, due to the fact that maybe Chinese people living in this area or visiting here are more interested in cosmetics than any other ethnic groups, and Chinese consumers may have shown a strong purchasing power. This poster in Chinese is believed to attract more buyers and increase sales.

Picture three


Caption: Shop signs of a Korean and a Latin American store

Location: Kingsford

Date: 20/03/2018

Language: Korean & English, Spanish & English

Domain: Retail/shops

Both of the two signs show a mixing of languages, part of the content is in English and part in heritage language. English is in capital and big font, with the heritage language below in lower case and small font. Therefore, the intention of the shop keepers is obvious: they use English to tell every potential customer about what kind of shop it is, and use heritage language to appeal to Korean and Spanish speakers. The Korean Hangul simply means this is a Korean shop, but the Spanish sign is more useful and functional in that it lists out what are offered in the shop.



4. Pagewood – Xue Han


Asian market Picture 1:


Picture caption: Chinese TV service commercial wall post

Date 21/03/18

Location: Asian market, Eastgardens shopping centre

Language: Chinese

Domain: Retail

The post above is a commercial advertisement sticking on the wall of an Asian market. It aims to promote Chinese television box with high resolution, affordable price and variety of shows. This aims to promote to customers who use Chinese as a language of communication. It indicates that there is a Chinese-speaking community in this area.

The post on the upper position is an English advertisement promotes Thai rice, this is the only English post or sign the retail store has. This indicates the potential customer of rice are people speaks English, and those Chinese customers.

Asian market picture 2&3



Picture caption: Chinese bread shop

Date 21/03/18

Location: Asian market, Eastgardens shopping centre

Language: Chinese

Domain: Retail

This is a Chinese bread shop in Eastgardens shopping centre. The name of the shop is in both Chinese and English. The Chinese and English version do not mean the exact same thing. The Chinese characters literally mean ‘bread’ and ‘shop’ or can be translated as ‘bag shop’. While the English word has been made up with the combination of two words. I guess it intends to deliver the idea of ‘making the top bread’. At a side of the shop, on a pillar, the two Chinese characters have been drawn in word art. It can be recognized as polylanguaging since it is also being used as an ideological logo to the shop.



5. Rhodes – Yimiao Xie


Picture 1


A supermarket called “New Eastern” in traditional Chinese and “Orange supermarket” in English

Location (suburb): Rhodes

Date: 19th March 2018

Language: Chinese and English

Domain: Retail/Supermarket

For this shop, interestingly the meaning of the Chinese name (New Eastern) doesn’t match with the English name (Orange supermarket) at all, thus it is possible that these names in two languages are used to attract customers from different backgrounds. Firstly, as the Chinese title is printed in traditional writing, this may tell that the shop has the intention to attract all Chinese users to shop here (simplified Chinese characters are only used in Mainland China; whereas traditional Chinese characters are recognised by all Chinese speaking areas). Furthermore, the connotation of “Eastern” also immediately relates to those Chinese people living in the eastern side of the world, this is more like a culture identity recognition among Chinese community. Different from the meaningfully designed Chinese name, the English version appears to be a very ordinary supermarket name, with the promotional posters on the right side of the shop, it’s possible that the English languages used is to draw attention from all other non-Chinese speaking customers, so that the supermarket can cater more customers’ need and make better sales.

Picture 2


A free shuttle service timetable

Location (suburb): Rhodes

Date: 21st March 2018

Language: English

Domain: Transport/Public service

In this bus information sign from the shuttle provider, all details of the service are explained in English. However, referring to the data from ABS that there are 36.8% of people speaking Mandarin at home, 11.8% of people speaks Korean and 8.1% of people communicates in Cantonese; and on top of this, there are in total 77.3% of people speaking languages other than English at home in this area. Base on this unique demographic structure in Rhodes, it is obvious that there are many non-English background speakers using this public service. Even though English should still be used as the medium language in this community, but the choice of using an English-only signage may not be appropriate for the linguistic diversity in this area. In fact, from my personal observation, there is once some elderly Chinese people hesitated to get on the bus, they confirmed with each other for some time and then they turned to ask other Asian-looking people at the stop. This could be one uncommon case, but it indicates that more languages used in public service signs might be better in meeting the linguistic needs from this suburb.



6. Lidcombe – Biljana Popovic


The main focus for this week was to study the linguistic landscape of my suburb Lidcombe, Sydney, NSW, which focused primarily our group’s domain of retail. Linguistic landscapes can be viewed as “environmental print” in other words cities as ‘texts’ (Dagenais et.al., 2008). This week I visited the Lidcombe city centre to observe the visibility of languages in the suburb, I found that many shops had public signage which corresponded with the typical “bottom-up” language-use predominantly utilised and created by shop owners and private businesses (Ben-Rafael, 2006).

Therefore, I discovered that many retail shops had signage in both English and (minimum two other languages). The most predominant and visible languages observed on retail signage were Korean, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese in order of prevalence. This observation corresponded positively with the language and ancestry statistics of the suburb:

Language, top responses (other than English) ABS, 2016 Census:

  • Korean 9%
  • Mandarin 1%
  • Cantonese 3%
  • Arabic 2%
  • Vietnamese 0%

Ancestry, top responses ABS, 2016 Census:

  • Chinese 23.1%
  • Korean 0%
  • English 8%
  • Australian 7%
  • Vietnamese 3%

Thus, the signage observed below, serves as the emblem of urban multilingualism where the interactions between the author, message and receiver reflect correlations between the use of certain languages within a particular region (Backhaus, 2006).


Picture One


Caption: Restaurant signage showing prices of menu items in two languages: Korean (majority) and English (minimal), bottom-up multilingualism.

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 17/03/18

Language/s: Korean and English

Domain: Restaurant (Retail)

The above are handwritten signs on multi coloured cardboard showing the different dishes available in the restaurant. The author is the restaurant manager who was in the restaurant at the time. The message is to inform customers of the menu items, a.k.a the dishes they prepare and their prices.

As you can see, English is scarce within the signage, and after speaking with the manager, he noted that the restaurant primarily serves Korean speaking customers and only selected items were written in English on the basis that those were the dishes their past and current English speaking customers (Chinese, Australian, Vietnamese e.t.c) predominantly order for e.g. as pictured ‘Ginseng chicken soup’ in order to accommodate to them.


Picture Two:

14 Caption: Restaurant signage showing prices of menu items in three languages: Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and English) equal use of all three languages, bottom-up multilingualism.

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 18/03/18

Language/s: Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and English

Domain: Restaurant (Retail)

This is a sign intended for the customers who eat at the Vietnamese Pho restaurant, listing the prices and menu items available. The author is the owner of the restaurant. The message is to inform the customers of the menu items (dishes, prices e.t.c). Although Vietnamese and English signage was expected (being a Vietnamese restaurant) the Chinese writing was to cater to their large customer base of individuals who visit from China (internationals) and local Chinese population.

Therefore, the signage is equally written in three languages to cater to their predominantly Vietnamese, Chinese and English speaking population.


Picture Three:


Caption: Vietnamese Bakery, signage is in three different languages (Vietnamese, English and tranditional Chinese), bottom up multilingualism.

Location: Lidcombe

Date: 18/03/18

Language/s: Vietnamese, English and Simplified Chinese

Domain: Bakery (Retail)

This is a sign intended for the general public signifying a bakery. The author is the shop owner. The message is to inform the general public of what they sell (bread, pork rolls, cakes e.t.c) and their trading hours/contact details. The sign is written in Vietnamese, Chinese and English. That being, their customer base are predominantly English, Vietnamese and Chinese speaking individuals.



By Group 6: Alex Anderson, Jack Waining, Cong Wang, Xue Han, Yimiao Xie and Biljana Popovic.

Blog 1 – Data Research - 16 March 2018

Ramsgate Beach (Postcode 2217) – Alex Anderson

According to ABS statistics, my suburb is predominantly Greek speaking (in terms of minority/community languages.) It has historically been this way, but there are also a number of other languages spoken from that region, with the ABS giving statistics on a number of Croatian and Arabic speakers as well.

Due to contemporary migration patterns, a number of South and East Asian language-speaking communities live in my suburb. Mandarin Chinese is the second most spoken community language in the post code, with Bengali coming third. In fact, the ABS has grouped all Indo-Aryan languages together, and their total is higher than the number of Greek speakers. If they were classified as one group, they would be the largest minority language speaking group in the area.

My area is very suburban and not as developed and gentrified as inner-city areas. As a result, there are still a large number of locally owned, community-focused small businesses and community languages signs and speakers are seen all around the area. Our domain fits very well for my suburb; the data is plentiful and it will be very interesting to analyse.

Despite the history of Greek migration, Chinese ads and signs were abound:

Photos by Alex Anderson

Kingsford (Postcode 2032) – Cong Wang

Table 1 – Languages spoken at home

Languages Kingsford % NSW %
English 39.9 68.5
Mandarin 21.9 3.2
Greek 5.7 1.1
Cantonese 4.6 1.9
Indonesian 3.7 0.4
Spanish 1.4 0.8

Table 2 – Country of birth

Country Kingsford % NSW %
Australia 37.4 65.5
China 22.3 3.1
Indonesia 3.8 0.4
Malaysia 2.7 0.4
Greece 2.2 0.4
England 2.1 3.0

From the tables we can see that a wide array of immigrants from many different countries were living in Kingsford in 2016, which means this suburb has superdiversity and is a multilingual speech community. The fact that the percentage of language spoken at home corresponds with that of country of birth indicates that the diaspora tends to actually use their languages at micro linguistic domains such as in a home setting.

The most widely spoken language in Kingsford other than English is Mandarin. Greek comes third, but is very far behind Mandarin in terms of speakers. Kingsford shares many of the same languages as nearby suburbs, like Pagewood.

A Chinese restaurant at UNSW, photos by Cong Wang

The Mandarin at the front door of the restaurant reads ‘We need female waitresses’, and it’s monolingual. It’s trying to convey a communicative function to those who want a job, exclusively Mandarin speakers.

Only English is used inside the restaurant, which also serves a communicative function. But what is really interesting is that they got a decorative picture with some Chinese characters, and I think this serves more as a symbolic function to make it looks like an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Pagewood (Postcode 2035) – Xue Han

As shown in the statistics, the predominant language of Pagewood is English, with speakers hailing from a number of English-speaking countries, including: Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.

Although English is the main language of the community, there are a number of large community language-speaking populations. Greek speakers make up almost 9% of the population. Interestingly, this seems to be the only European community language spoken by a large amount of people. Asian languages take up 3rd, 4th and 5th place in the data, with Mandarin, Indonesian and Cantonese all sitting at around 3% each.

These are some signs in the shopping centre in Pagewood. Chinese and English are both used in this area which implies that they’re both commonly-used languages in the community.

Photos by Xue Han

Language spoken in Pagewood:
English 61.1%
Greek 8.8%
Mandarin 3.6%
Indonesian 2.6%
Cantonese 2.3%
Spanish 2.2%

Country of birth, Pagewood:
Australia: 61.4%
China 3.2%
England 2.7%
Greece 2.4%
Indonesian 2.0%
New Zealand 1.7%

Rhodes (Postcode 2138) – Yimiao Xie

Rhodes has a huge non-English speaking population. The percentage of families that speak Mandarin at home actually doubles the percentage English speaking families. Mandarin sits at 36.8% and English is at 18.4%. Korean comes a close third at 11.8%. This is the only suburb apart from Lidcombe in the group that has a LOTE as the most predominantly spoken language at home, and it will be interesting to compare data in regards to this.

It’s also of note that Rhodes’ median age is 29, and is significantly lower than that of other suburbs. This may suggest an influx of a large number of young, new immigrants and could be very telling not only in our analyses of what languages are spoken, but how they are spoken in the area, as well.

Even in this top down advertisement from a real estate agency at the train station, Chinese characters are used to meet potential Chinese speaking customers, and the Chinese used in this advertisement is the direct translation of the English contents. Thus, this is a good example of a multilingual environment, and an understandable result of the makeup of the population.

Photo by Yimiao Xie

 Lidcombe (Postcode 2141) – Biljana Popovic

Lidcombe, like the other, more central suburbs has a large number of Mandarin and Korean speaking people residing in the area. Korean serves a similar role to that of Chinese in other suburbs like Gosford and Ramsgate Beach. It’s seen in restaurants and specific, cultural buildings. It is not seen so much in large, public advertisements, like English would be in Gosford, or Chinese would be in Rhodes, however it still serves as the language of over 15% of the population, and as a result is regarded as a very important language.

Chinese still has a larger speaker population than Korean, and they both act as smaller, secondary languages after English. This is in contrast to Rhodes, where Chinese is clearly the most common native language of the population and Korean is more of a secondary, smaller language. In the context of Lidcombe, Mandarin Chinese and Korean almost act as competitors, because they have similar populations and serve similar purposes.

Photo by Biljana Popovic

Demographics ABS, 2016 Census:

  • Chinese 23.1%
  • Korean 16.0%
  • English 5.8%
  • Vietnamese 5.7%

Gosford (Postcode 2250) – Jack Waining

While the speech community of the Gosford area is predominantly English-speaking, recently there having been growing trends in migration to the Central Coast which have provided an increase in the presence non-English languages.

Gosford still remains predominantly English-speaking. More so than suburbs in Sydney like Pagewood or Kingsford, which not only have a large number of languages spoken in the area, but also a large percentage of the population that speaks them. Mandarin Chinese is the second most widely spoken language in both Kingsford and Gosford, but around 20% of Kingsford population speaks Mandarin, while less than 2% of Gosford’s population does.

Photos By Jack Waining

As of current, the largest language communities in Gosford are:

English: 84.99%
Chinese: 1.49%
Korean: 0.59%
Spanish: 0.55%
German: 0.38%
Tagalog: 0.35%
Italian: 0.34%
Greek: 0.34%

Summary and Comparison

All the suburbs bring something different to the table. Rhodes and Lidcombe are unique in that they have a LOTE as the most common native language of the population. Gosford hasn’t experienced as much migration as other suburbs so it still provides insight into a context where English is still unequivocally the predominant language. Pagewood provided an example of where languages serve the same role and function in the community – it will be interesting to see how Korean and Chinese interact in this context. Finally, Ramsgate Beach will provide interesting data based on the fact that European as its main community languages, as opposed to East Asian languages.

The percentages of the languages spoken in all these different suburbs all vary wildly, which makes a comparison quite difficult. What we can be sure of though, is that in much the same way that Sydney is linguistically diverse, Sydney’s language ecology is diverse as well. All these suburbs treat foreign languages in vastly different ways, however they’re all still part of the Greater Sydney Area. It will be interesting to see what data come from these different ecologies in the coming weeks.


Alex Anderson, Yimiao Xie, Cong Wang, Jack Waining, Biljana Popovic and Xue Han


2 thoughts on “2018 | Group 6

  1. Wow! What an insightful article(s), all participants have shown a thorough level of research! Impressive that you managed to get such a wide geographical distribution, and have managed to find suburbs with so many different language majorities.

  2. Really intrigued by the trilingual menu in Ramsgate Beach. It seems odd that besides a Spanish/Latin American eatery that they would have a translation in Spanish, but interesting none the less!

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