The Shadow

"Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow . . . For Thine is the Kingdom"

24 October 2006

Signs and wonders

I have a bit of an attachment to Marrickville. For the last 16 years it's been my home and so whenever it rates a mention I tend to pay attention. And the latest signs shenanigan was no exception.

In yesterday's (pink) Herald there was an
article about a proposal at a council meeting to make local businesses translate all foreign-language signs into English. I've also heard that a Today Tonight crew was on the prowl in the area.

The Herald article made a particular reference to a Chinese video shop on Illawarra Rd that only has Chinese characters on its signs. I often walk past this shop and seeing it there really got me thinking.

From the start, the plan seemed like a bit of a beat up because there isn't really any problem that it's addressing. In my experience there are hardly any signs with no English and it's quite easy to figure out what local businesses are all about. It smacked to me of overregulation.

But I wasn't going to leave it there. So today being my day off, I went out for a walk along a busy section of Illawarra Road (between Warren and Marrickville Rds) with a pen and a notepad jotting down the languages on the signs of the local businesses I encountered. In all I passed 107, inluding the one that featured in the Herald. It's main sign has now been covered by sheets of A3 paper with the English words "Chinese Video Rental" written in black felt-tip pen.

Out of the 107 businesses not one had no English on its signage. I've summarised the language mix below:

English only: 50 (46.73%)
Chinese and English: 12 (11.21%)
Vietnamese and English: 31 (28.97%)
Chinese, Vietnamese and English: 4 (3.74%)
Arabic and English: 5 (4.67%)
Greek and English: 3 (2.80%)
Tibetan and English: 1 (0.93%)
Indonesian and English: 1 (0.93%)

Total: 107

To be fair some of the Vietnamese shops and restaurants had very little English - there was one bakery type place that only said "Fresh Pork Rolls" in English - but there is no need to change anything about the signs. They're perfectly adequate in my patch.

Now if only the council would do something about all those uneven footpaths . . .


At 6:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh SLIDESHOWMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!
great blog,yeah i fell off my chair when i read the herald stormInTeaCup story re:signs---that particular chinese video shop FEATURES in "songsFromIllawarraRoad-theMovie" was like seeing a still from the film-excellent folowup reportage---see you @ mcNeilly for boules+ @ skyChurch for reflection ...regards pedro (thanks for the link)

At 6:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh tdix--have emailed feedback to herald reporters re:shop signs story+my film---may get follow-up interview+can direct them to your study+blog

the 4th estate-keepin' the b*stards honest!!!
regards pedro
sub-secretary McNeilly ParkBoules Club

At 8:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

seeing the chinese video shop have to cover their beautiful calligraphy shrivels my soul

what to do slideshowMan????????????/


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