The Relation between Space and Languages: The Linguistic and Cultural Identity of Restaurants in Ours and Sallaz

Frassineti Michela and Maksuti Sara


This paper explores the role of exotic languages (including English and French) and cultures of restaurants in two opposite areas of Lausanne, namely Ours and Sallaz. The aim of this study is to investigate what languages are employed in a determined space. For this, our paper tries to answer the following research questions: is language linked to space and how?, and why are certain foreign languages used more than others in the city centre? We found that there is a hierarchy between non-official languages used in a particular space, and an inevitable connection between these two, indicating thus a socio-economic factor caused by globalization in terms of economy and a growth in popularity of cultures and their languages.



With Lausanne being part of a multilingual country, this city is populated by different nationalities (43.1% foreign population, Demographic Context 2017) other than Swiss people thanks to mainly its well-known universities that attract a great number of students every year. This influx of foreign languages has an impact on local signs, among these restaurants as well. That is why, for this project we took into consideration the neighbourhood of Vallon / Béthusy (we will refer to this as Ours because it is commonly known as such) and the one of Sallaz, where we encountered different types of food service businesses. Furthermore, our aim was to study how languages are strictly related to space and what languages have the most importance in a multilingual city. Indeed, this essay will focus on the following research questions: how is language linked to space and vice versa?, why are some non-local languages employed more than others in the city centre?, analysing commercial signs, namely restaurants, with a special regard to the socio-economic aspect. By observing the language of restaurant signs in two opposite areas, we will, thus, make a comparison between these two spaces. This essay is structured as follows: firstly, we will take into account previous research with a similar concept of languages and space, but in different cities; then we will provide information on the areas we chose and a further presentation of our methodology; concluding, therefore, with a discussion of the results in comparison with the previous researches as well.


Theoretical framework

Considering our field of research, it is significant to highlight that in nowadays societies foreign restaurants are more and more acknowledge by, in our case, the residents of Lausanne. This, due to many factors that include cultural appreciation, the growing popularity of specific cultures, and particularly globalization. This idea is conceived by Appadurai (1996: 10, as quoted in Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 206) as ‘vernacular globalization’, that is ‘a grassroots dimension of globalization expressed, amongst other things, in dense and complex forms of neighbourhood multilingualism’ (Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 206). By tanking into account the research of Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck (2005), which shows how different languages and their use is organized in different spaces of an immigrant neighbourhood in Ghent (Belgium), we aim to point out the difference between the languages used in distinct areas of the same city, Lausanne, proving thus that “it is obvious that no single neighbourhood can be characterized by one dominant, uniform ‘culture’” (Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 207).

Studies like Cenoz and Gorter (2006) have already focused on comparing the linguistic landscape of two different streets, but in two multilingual cities, namely Friesland (Netherlands) and the Basque Country (Spain), thus demonstrating that “the linguistic landscape is related to the official language policy regarding minority languages” (Cenoz and Gorter 2006: 67) spoken in these two areas. Similarly, Lausanne has only one official language which also affects the linguistic landscape of foreign languages (not minority languages). Furthermore, this study proves that the English language does not transmit a “factual information” (Cenoz and Gorter 2006: 70), but rather a “connotational value” (Cenoz and Gorter 2006: 70); sustained by Piller (2001, 2003) as values that are “international orientation, future orientation, success, sophistication or fun orientation” (Piller 2001: 163). Likewise, restaurants have the tendency to use non-local languages in signs in order to preserve their identity and underline the nature of their cuisine. Hence, foreign words do not intend an information but rather a preservation of their culture for an economic profit.

By choosing to focus on the socio-economic aspect of our study, the use of different languages in a specific area depends on the power that a certain language has in that particular space. Indeed, as put forward by Backhaus (2006: 52), “the hierarchy of languages is at the same time an expression of power relations”, consequently proving that unpopular stereotyped languages (Castellotti and Moore 2002: 10) such as Turkish or Hindi have not the same linguistic power as Italian or Japanese in the city of Lausanne. Therefore, we wanted to focus our attention on why certain foreign languages are more popular than others in a particular space, depending on the influx of population of the area, eventually finding a connection between a non-local language and its location.



At first, we wanted to focus only on the neighbourhood of Sallaz and Bessières, but after taking pictures on the street, we were not sure of the type of signs we managed to find because we realised they were only advertisements without multilingual features. Consequently, a classmate suggested to take a look in the neighbourhood of Ours, where we found interesting multilingual signs, the majority of them related to food service. Then, we decided to compare these signs with the ones in Sallaz, where we live.

Our linguistic landscape is based on a corpus of six pictures taken in the area of Ours and Sallaz. The first four restaurants are enclosed in black circles (Illustration 1), all of them located in the same street Rue de Marterey. Likewise, restaurants in Sallaz are enclosed in black circles (Illustration 2): they are both in Place of Sallaz, however, one is more visible than the other.

Illustration 1. Map of Ours showing the four restaurants     

Illustration 2. Map of Sallaz showing the two restaurants

The neighbourhood of Vallon/Béthusy includes Ours, which gives the name to the metro stop (m2, direction Croisettes). This area distinguishes from the others due to the presence of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), that is the most important employer of the city (Fiche de Population, Vallon/Béthusy 2017).  Furthermore, this zone is located in a great position, close to the city centre: by going down Rue de Marterey, it is possible to reach the Cathedral of Lausanne. This neighbourhood consists of the 5% of the population of Lausanne: the 58.3% are Swiss, while the 41.7 % are foreigners out of 6’392 inhabitants, as shown in Graph 1 (Fiche de Population, Vallon/Béthusy 2017). Once stepping outside the metro stop the first noticeable thing is the amount of different food service businesses, such as bakeries, wine shops, bubble tea shops and restaurants as well. Particularly these latter do not offer local food: among these the main types are Italian, Chinese and Japanese.

 Graph 1. Percentage of people living in Ours

Conversely, Sallaz is part of the neighbourhood of Sallaz/Vennes/Séchaud, and it is a bigger area with more inhabitants than Vallon/Béthusy, including the 10% of the population (Fiche de Population, Sallaz/Vennes/Séchaud 2017). The metro stop takes the name from this area (Sallaz, m2, direction Croisettes), and it is located in the main square, where mainly lots of food service businesses are present, and other types, too. Among these we can find the optician, the post office, the Kiosk, a small open-air market, a bakery, two supermarkets (Migros and Coop), one Turkish restaurant, one Indian and another we could not identify. The apparent contradiction between these two areas is that the area of Sallaz includes 54.4% of Swiss people and 45.6% of foreigners, out of 14’985 inhabitants, as shown in Graph 2 (Fiche de Population, Sallaz/Vennes/Séchaud 2017). Thus, why are there fewer non-local restaurants in a bigger neighbourhood with more foreigners than in a smaller area with fewer foreigners?

Graph 2. Percentage of people living in Sallaz



Our study is based on pictures we took in the interested areas. On the 2nd November 2018, we took a total of 33 pictures of signs in the neighbourhood of Ours and Sallaz, specifically in Rue de Marterey and Place de la Sallaz. Out of these pictures, we only took into consideration the signs that included English and other languages mixed together. However, the pictures we took in Sallaz that day were not food service related, but we decided last minute to make a comparison between food services of this area and the ones of Ours. That is why we could not take the pictures due to personal reasons and the deadline of this project, as we thought about this just before going abroad. Nevertheless, we are completely aware of the food services of the area, since we have lived there for a year now. For our study, we will only use six pictures taken in Ours and Sallaz, respectively four and two pictures. Those pictures represent the only restaurants that can be found in those areas and the only thing these two have in common are restaurants, that is the main reason of our choice. Furthermore, the chosen signs offer a variety of different languages including not only English, but also Italian, Japanese and Chinese. For Japanese and Chinese, help in translation was asked to acquaintances who are fluent in those languages.

At first, we took pictures to everything that was multilingualism related, then we excluded every sign that was not appealing to us, considering, thus only restaurants. This experience stimulated our curiosity because we explored an area (Ours) we had never been to before and we also had the chance to enrich our knowledge of the neighbourhood we live in (Sallaz). For the first area, multilingual signs were easily found, whereas for the second one we had to explore it attentively.



The four restaurants in Ours consist of two Italian and two Asian (Japanese and Chinese) restaurants: the first two show signs in both Italian and the local language, namely French, whereas the other two signs are in Japanese, Chinese, English and French. As for Sallaz restaurants, one is Turkish, named “Istanbul” and their menu has Turkish names for dishes with French descriptions, while the Indian Restaurant only presents the English language in its sign, namely “Indian Curry House”. All these languages and cultures coexist in a multilingual environment as these two neighbourhoods include a high number of foreigners as previously showed.

As revealed by the two graphs of the contextualisation section, the number of foreign people is almost at the same level as the one of Swiss people. Nevertheless, the number of inhabitants of Sallaz is more than twice of Ours. Hence, this difference in inhabitants was contradictory at first. As we have already seen, Ours has a lot of non-local food services but has fewer foreigners than Sallaz which has very few restaurants. This proves once again that space and languages are related and there is a hierarchy between languages that are employed in a specific space and not in another as “not all spaces are equal” (Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 202): the closer the area to the city centre (more influx of people), the more mainstream languages (they are the most studied languages in the world, MOSAlingua 2018) such as Italian, Japanese, Chinese are employed; and vice versa.

As for the two Italian restaurants located in Rue de Marterey, they both chose to have an Italian name (“L’antica trattoria” Picture 1, “Bravissimo” Picture 2) in order to keep their identity clear and underline the nature of their cuisine. The Italian language is one of the official languages in Switzerland and a lot of Swiss people speak fluently Italian as it could be also studied at school. Thus, Italian restaurants are known to have a worldwide reputation for their cuisine; as a consequence, it is common to find this type of restaurants abroad, mainly in Lausanne where Swiss Italian speaking people and Italian people come to live for work or university (Piller 2001). Therefore, Italian restaurants are placed in the city centre because on one hand, they are widely recognized and requested, on the other hand, being in the city centre means more economic profit than being in the suburbs. Moreover, in order to appeal to a French speaking community, the technical information regarding opening hours, the type of business and menus are given in French, which has an informational function since it is the official language.

Picture 1. Sign of “L’antica trattoria”       

Picture 2. Sign of “Bravissimo”

In order to draw more attention and preserve even more its identity, the restaurant “Bravissimo” used graphic signs like the colours of the Italian flag and drawings of typical Italian dishes such as pasta and pizza. Similarly, both Asian restaurants use respectively a drawing of a fish (Picture 4) to indicate that is a sushi restaurant and Chinese characters (Picture 3) to highlight the name of the restaurant and to appeal to the Chinese community and to the non-Chinese speaking population.

Picture 3. Sign of Chinese restaurant “Nihao”      


Picture 4. Sign of Japanese restaurant “Ichiban”


Nowadays, Chinese and Japanese cuisine is gaining more and more popularity in Europe. Especially, Japanese sushi is at the centre of acclaim since it could be perceived as the new Big Mac (Renton 2006). Indeed, this type of restaurant can mostly be found in the city centre as there is a high influx of people who are more captivated by Asian culture and its healthy food. These two restaurants display words in their respective native languages such as nihao (hello) and ichiban (number one) to preserve their identity. Still, as the Italian restaurants, technical information are written in French with the use of an English word that is takeaway: this word is interesting because it does not appear in Italian restaurants as this cuisine, except for pizzerias, does not make food to be taken away, whereas Japanese and Chinese food are known for takeaway.

As for the two restaurants located in Sallaz, they are part of two foreign cultures whose languages are not prevalent in the hierarchy of languages. Indeed, languages such as Turkish and Hindi are not even part of the most popular and studied languages in the world (MOSAlingua 2018). Nevertheless, the Turkish restaurant “Istanbul” keeps its identity with its name and also the name of the dishes that are in Turkish with French descriptions. Conversely, the Indian restaurant sign does not show any hint of linguistic identity as the whole name is in English.



The popularity and hierarchy of certain languages is caused by globalization. This phenomenon, as put forward by Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck (2005: 201), “results in increased cultural contact and conflict, increased linguistic diversity and tension, resulting in quotidian and formal public challenges”. Thus, nowadays it is common to find exotic restaurants in big cities due to the constant growth of the reputation and also the acceptance of other non-local cultures. However, there is a clear division between spaces and the languages employed in those as “some spaces are affluent and prestigious, others are not, some are open to all, while others require intricate and extensive procedures of entrance” (Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 203) depending on the linguistic identity. That is why, in the area of Ours we found a huge variety of food services including Italian, Japanese and Chinese restaurants; while outside the city centre there are restaurants that are not generally considered as “valuable” because they are not in a strategic position for an economical profit (Mealey 2018). Hence, “the linguistic landscape reflects the relative power and status of the different languages in a specific sociolinguistic context” (Cenoz and Gorter 2006: 67), creating a tangible division between spaces and languages.

Moreover, this separation is clearly conceptualized by the World System Analysis (Wallerstein 1983, 2000, 2001 as quoted in Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 201), that sees the world as structured in three parts: centres, semiperipheries and peripheries, establishing a capitalist production. Space and languages are not only socially connected, but also economically. Therefore, this great division could be attributed to cities as well. For example, peripheries have a low economic profit and they completely depend on the centres which rule the economy. Indeed, the “Indian Curry House” restaurant in Sallaz could have a lower level of accumulation of capital than the Japanese one in Ours due to its peripheric position and lower influx of customers. Conversely, semiperipheries manage to have their own high economic profit, still depending on centres’ supremacy. In addition, Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck (2005: 201) claim that “the value of goods from the centres is systemically higher than that of the (semi-) peripheries” which in our study “goods” is replaced by restaurants.

For the first part of our research question, space is inevitably linked to language and vice versa because they both coexist as communication is present in every type of space. Specifically for our study, the economic point of view is the one that has the most influence because, for example, putting an Italian restaurant far from the centre would not be economically advantageous because the influx of population and tourists is focused in the city centre (Mealey 2018).



The aim of this study was to find a link between languages and space as “multilingualism is structured and regimented by space and relations between spaces” (Blommaert, Collins, Slembrouck 2005: 205). Nonetheless, our study had some limitations regarding the restricted number of areas and the limited food service businesses. For this, it would be interesting to analyse all the neighbourhoods in Lausanne in order to widen the number of languages employed and to prove concretely the connection between languages and space in terms of socioeconomics. We also focused our attention only on restaurants, whereas more types of food service businesses could also confirm our findings. Nonetheless, our research demonstrated that spaces and languages are somehow related to each other and there is a visible hierarchy of languages of determined areas due to the growing popularity of these and their socio-economic value derived from economic globalization.










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Multilingualism in Renens: the relationship between multilingualism in restaurants and their location


Annette Motta and Valeria Versari


In this paper, we aim to understand which clientele is targeted by the restaurants and the relevance of their location near to the railway station of Renens through an analysis of multilingual signs. Using the theoretical concepts of main and secondary languages, we hypothesized that the location of the restaurants near the station would deeply affect their market strategy and hence of their use of multilingual signs in storefronts and in their menus based on their target audience. We collected a corpus of 10 photos and selected four multilingual storefronts and menus, and afterwards analysed the Trip Advisor reviews in order to identify the possible different clientele. The results turned out to correspond with the hypothesis: all restaurants use main and secondary languages differently for their different target audience and marketing strategies and it seems to match with their location as well.

1. Introduction

Nowadays, multilingualism is present in the economic sector of the majority of cities. A frequent example of multilingualism in the everyday life are ethnic restaurants: they often try to represent the culture and ethnicity they represent by their use of languages on the storefronts and menus.

In this paper we will try to analyse the relationship between multilingual restaurants and their location in Renens and specifically near the railway station. We are going to try to understand if these restaurants are targeting specific customers by showing their authenticity and belonging or if they are pointing to a larger customer base through their language choice in signs. Our hypothesis was that there had to be a relation between the restaurants, the languages used and their location and population of the area.

In the theoretical framework, we will focus on main and secondary language and their power in given areas: how they are used as marketing strategies. In the contextualisation we will explain why we thought that Renens’ railway station would be a good location for our research. We will then explain our methodology, how we studied our data consisting in photos taken on the place of the storefronts and menus and Trip Advisor reviews of customers. We will analyse these data in the result section and in the end we will discuss our findings.  

2. Theoretical Framework

Multilingualism is an aspect more and more present in our society due to the rise of media and globalisation, as well as the intensified economic migration. Multilingualism in the restauration field has a great place as gastronomy is overcoming the boundaries between cultures, as a great number of people likes to try out foreign gastronomy. Many studies have been conducted on the significance of the use of two languages in advertisements and storefronts.

In the restaurants we selected, the use of the official language, French in Renens, is shadowed by the use of secondary languages, in our corpus Chinese, Thai and Portuguese. As stated by Jasone Cenoz et al, “the linguistic landscape reflects the relative power and status of the different languages in a specific sociolinguistic context” (2006, p. 67), indeed in the storefront of the chosen restaurants, the power of the official language is weakened by the authenticity given by the secondary language, pointing out the importance of a secondary language in such a touristic area to attract people.

3. Contextualisation

Switzerland is a strongly multilingual country itself with its four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansch). The francophone city of Renens benefits of a strategic location near the fairly big city of Lausanne in the canton Vaud. As a peripheric city, Renens is a less expensive living area and hence leads to the coming of more multilingual citizens arriving from diverse linguistic backgrounds than in Lausanne itself. Indeed, in 2000, Renens was inhabited by more than 50% of migrants from different countries. This multiethnic population brought Renens to be a strongly multilingual city favouring the expansion of multilingual restaurants.

Moreover, the railway station of Renens has become a fairly busy train station. Indeed, statistics recently showed that during the working days more than 20’000 passengers travel through the railway station of Renens. The high movement of people also increases the multilinguality of the area and thus provides an interesting linguistic landscape. The creation of the metro M1 in 1991 directly connected Renens to the central place of the Flon in Lausanne and to the University of Lausanne, which are both multilingual areas, thus increasing the number of multilingual passengers travelling through Renens.

Picture 1: Collective Google Map of the data collected.

Picture 1 shows where we took the pictures around the Renens’ railway station.

4. Methodology

We collected the data for this paper by looking for different restaurants with multilingual signs around the area of the rail station of Renens and by taking pictures of their banners and menus. We chose this area for two main reasons: firstly, Renens is a particularly multiethnic centre and has a high number of migrants and foreign citizens, so we assumed that this would probably lead to having also more multilingual citizens, although this is not always the case. Secondly, because the railway station provides even more intercultural exchanges and thus again we thought that this would also mean more language exchange and use.

Before collecting the data, we supposed that Renens, due to its high number of migrants, would probably show more multilingualism than other areas around Lausanne. In fact, there are many shops, bars and restaurants that exhibit more than one language on their signs and in their menus, although we were expecting to find more.

We collected a corpus of 10 photos of different multilingual restaurants and adverts. In the end, we chose to exclude the advertisements and made a selection of only three restaurants in particular, because they had both languages both in the banner and in the menu and seemed particularly close to showing their different national identity and tradition through language. Afterwards, we analysed the reviews on Trip Advisor and Google to see if they would give us a deeper insight on the clientele of the restaurants.

This method could not be comprehensive enough, as we did not manage to actually talk to people and the only owner of a restaurant that we managed to talk to was not willing to reply to our questions and we could therefore only rely on unofficial reviews. Moreover, the data is not really exhaustive itself as 10 photos are not enough to draw certain conclusions.

5. Results

Picture 2, 3: Dragon

This is an Asiatic fast-food restaurant that offers Chinese, apanese and Thai food just outside the railway station. The name of the restaurant “Dragon” is already evocative of the Chinese culture, as the dragon is a symbol of Chinese culture in general, it is attributed to Eastern culture by Western citizens and it could therefore be used as a form of commodification to sell certain services. The main language used is French, not only on the banner but on the menu as well. However, Chinese is also used even if it is clearly given less importance: on the two sides of ‘Dragon’ and above every dish in the menu, written in a very small font but still shown. We were surprised that Japanese and Thai languages are not featured at all, although they are part of the restaurant’s offerings.

Picture 4, 5: Les délices du Siam

Les délices du Siam” is a little restaurant located near the railway station of Renens. On the storefront of the restaurant there are three Thai flags and two elephants, which are holy animals in the most widespread religion of Thailand, Buddhism. On top, there is the name of the restaurant written in French, the official language in Renens and under the central flag there is another writing in French that indicates which food is to find in the restaurant: “Cuisine thailandaise”. At the bottom, between the two Thai flags there is something written in Thai The colours of the inscriptions are the one present in the flag of the country. On the menu of the restaurant, the ingredients are written in French but the names of the dishes are written under the ingredients in Thai, so there is a hierarchy of languages.

Picture 6, 7: Le Bol d’Or

This is a Chinese and Portuguese restaurant. The languages used outside are French and Portuguese, both on the window (in picture) and in the menu. This is why we were surprised when we found out, entering the restaurant, that it is also Chinese. The fact that if you only look at the facade of the restaurant and at the menu given outside only Portuguese is given is surprising. We also went inside to interview the owner, and although we couldn’t speak to him directly, we noticed that the decorations were a mixture of Asian and Western culture but both the personnel members present were Asian and hardly spoke French, whilst the only table with customers was occupied by a Portuguese speaking family.

Picture 8: Pomodoro Pasta e Basta!

This is not a restaurant but a food truck that was placed right at the exit of the station, presenting Italian in its name. We did not manage to take a picture of its menu but it was entirely in French. It is therefore a different case from all the others described above and shows that its aim is probably to target rather French locals more than tourists or Italian-speaking clients. Although Italian is a spoken very frequently by population in Lausanne, being one of the four official languages of Switzerland, it is not present in the menu of this food chain.

6. Discussion

All the restaurants we chose to analyse show bottom-up multilingual signs and they all feature French, which is this region’s official language, and another language. Bottom-up items include “those issued by individuals’ social actors such as shop owners and companies, including names of shops, business, signs and personal announcements” (Akindele 2011: 7). This could be a marketing strategy in order to attract a certain type of customers and to give an authentic image of their national identity in a multilingual and touristic space as a railway station area.

The restaurant “Le Bol d’Or” shows an inconsistency between the storefront and the menu and decoration. Indeed, the storefront presents only Portuguese and French, whilst on the inside the decorations are strongly Asian, as well as the personnel. Although this pairing of cultures (Western and Asian) might sound odd and surprising, it is due to the owners, one being Chinese and one Portuguese. In accordance with some reviews found on Trip Advisor, the decorations are actually seen as exaggerated and therefore as not very authentic. Moreover, we found out that they have two menus, one for Chinese restoration and one for Portuguese restoration even though the storefront gave no information about Asian cuisine. This absence of indications about the kind of cuisine inside the restaurant made us confused about the marketing strategy of the restaurant. However, the clientele seems to be consisted by a higher number of non-French speakers, also if we consider the personnel that really struggles with the local language.

The restaurant “Les Délices du Siam” seems to be very close to the Thai culture as demonstrated by their storefront. Reading the menu, the authenticity of the dishes offered confirm this closeness to the Thai gastronomic culture. Subsequently supported by some of the Trip Advisor reviews, complimenting the authenticity of the dishes and the staff. Some customers even claimed that they felt like they were in Thailand as the dishes tasted like the one they had during some vacations in the country. A client also noticed that the restaurant was often frequented by Thai people and interpreted it as a proof that the food is authentic. Moreover, a positive review of a Thai man confirms the fact that “Les Délices du Siam” is visited by people of Thai nationality. The restaurant being owned by a Thai family, some reviews express a language problem between them and the staff as they hardly spoke French. In addition, the location of the restaurant near the railway station is often cited as a positive aspect.

Dragon” displays an inconsistency between the offerings and the languages used on the menu and storefront as well: although it offers equally Japanese, Thai and Chinese dishes, only Chinese language is used beside French. This is clearly due to accommodate a certain type of customers: whilst for tourists and Swiss locals Chinese helps making the menu look more Eastern and is therefore only used for visual purposes. We can also assume by this use of language that the number of Chinese speaking customers could be higher than Thai or Japanese speaking. It is therefore a marketing strategy aiming at including as many customers as possible. On the other hand, including Japanese and Thai would have been more inclusive, so their absence is confusing. However, in the Trip Advisor reviews it becomes clear that this results in a lack of authenticity that is often pointed out by the clients.

The food truck “Pomodoro” aims to attract a majority of customers without targeting a specific kind of people. The Italian name only serves to indicate the kind of gastronomy offered in the food truck and to give the feeling that it is authentically Italian. However, the menu is written in French only showing a lack of will to demonstrate authenticity. Because of its mobility, the food truck maybe does not need to focus on a specific clientele as it always moves.

Now, if we consider the restaurants’ locations (picture 1), we can notice that “Dragon” and “Les délices du Siam” are really close to the exit of the rail station: “Dragon” is probably one of the first things that a traveller notices as coming out of the station. Its aim is therefore rather to attract casual travellers than to attract true locals of the identity they represent. On the other hand, “Les Délices du Siam” has the same distance from the station (it literally faces “Dragon”) but is more hidden. It probably aims less to a tourist target and therefore looks more for authenticity, which customers seem to appreciate more. Its decorations are less visible and not given a lot of attention. Both French and Thai are given the same importance, therefore giving a certain importance to local Thai customers in contrast to “Dragon”’s neglected use of Chinese. “Pomodoro Pasta e Basta”’s location just at the exit of the station, being a moveable Food Truck, is another indicator of this strategic position. The fact that “Le Bol d’Or” is on the other side of the station and therefore not directly accessible by the travellers could be the reason why it aims more to Portuguese and Chinese customers than tourists in general.  

7. Conclusion

In this research paper, we looked into the use of different languages in ethnic restaurants and the relation with their position in Renens and near the railway station. It was found that main and secondary language play an important role in defining the target audience of the restaurant, whether it wants to attract more just the local residents, mainly francophone, or if it targets more natives of a specific identity represented by the business. This target seems to depend mostly on the location of the restaurant and it affects language just as much as it affects its decoration and appeal on the whole.

However, this research presents many limitations. It might be inaccurate, as we only analysed a limited number of restaurants on a restricted area. The study might be extended to the whole city of Renens and it would be interesting to see how the location affects also activities more distant from the station. It is still relevant to see how deeply the location of the restaurants we analysed affects their use of language as a marketing strategy.


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Ethnic Restaurants and Food Services in Lausanne Switzerland

Authors : Alba G. and Stallo A.



Switzerland is a nation composed by 4 national languages and its linguistic landscape is complex, especially in big and multicultural cities like Lausanne. Having multicultural restaurants and food services amplify the complexity and rich nature of the city’s linguistic landscape. Nevertheless, having more than one language might be challenging, because the restaurants and food services might lose their “authenticity” and origins. Therefore, it is interesting to analyse, through collecting photos of commercial signs and store windows, whether these commercial activities have claimed their native culture in a place where the native languages are not officially recognized. Generally, restaurants (especially Italian and Chinese ones) did succeed in claiming their culture by using their own native language, but results must be considered carefully, because the data analysed was very restricted (only 11 restaurants and food services).



The term “multilingualism” has its huge spread throughout the 21st century thanks to technology, new ways of communication and new faster ways of transports. Therefore, the Linguistic landscape as an approach, is relatively new: it originates more than 40 years ago, and it has grown popular in the last 10 years (Gorter, 2006; Gorter & Canoz, 2017). Since Switzerland is a nation with 4 national languages, its linguistic landscape must be quite interesting, especially in big and multicultural cities as in the case of Lausanne. Gorter (2006) explains that studying “the linguistic landscape is also to study cultural heritage. Languages are part of the cultural heritage and the sustainable development of linguistic diversity is seen as an important aspect of our heritage”. Moreover, the Unesco Universal declaration on Cultural Diversity proclaims that “all persons have therefore the right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the languages of their choice” (Unesco, 2002 In Gorter, 2006). Gorter et al. (2012) proclaim that, for minority languages, to be seen is as important as to be heard. However, researches are not yet so interested in the study of “displays of minority languages in the public space” (Gorter et al., 2012).

The research question that we seek to answer in this paper is the following: how do ethnic restaurant, by using the language associated with their national background, reclaim their own culture in a city in which their language is not officially recognized?

In order to answer this research question, different images were gathered from 11 ethnic restaurants or food services found in the city of Lausanne, that were then analysed (not following a specific approach). The choice of ethnic restaurant was made on the basis that, from a naïve point of view, it is in those particular instances that multilingualism would really emerge, showing a plurality of languages (depending on the culture that the restaurant showcases and commodifies).


 Theoretical framework

In order to study how ethnic restaurants, construct themselves around instances of multilingualism, it must be understood how ethnic restaurants differs from other types of restoration and what the customer expects from them. Unfortunately, there is still not a body of literature that focuses on the use of different languages in restaurants, but there are various researches that concentrate on authenticity and customers’ perceptions of it.

Muñoz and Wood (2009) discovered that the more customers are geographically distant from an ethnic restaurant’s place of origin, the more they focus on restaurant’s atmospheric components and stereotypes held by the represented culture. Swiss population, which is far away from i.e. China or Spain, will then have strong expectations based on different stereotypes that would be encountered in Chinese restaurants or Spanish cafés.

In order to attract customers, ethnic restaurants are craftly themed. Theming is “the process by which an environment is given a distinct character” (Muñoz & Wood, 2009), and in ethnic restaurants this involves the depiction of their specific culture. This is done by carefully choosing “ethnic art, décor, music, external façade, name [and therefor language], and various stereotyped signals to create a distinctive setting which lays claim to be a reflection of some exotic but recognizable culture” (Beardsworth & Bryman, 2005 In Muñoz & Wood, 2009). Ethnic restaurants will resort to theming in order to create their own identity and to attract customers who are seeking new experiences (Lego et al., 2002; Ebster & Guist, 2005).

There is a strong strive for depicting authenticity. Authenticity is a term that describes a ““locally constructed folk idea”: a process of negotiation between the ethnic culture and host culture” (Lu & Fine, 1995 In Lego et al., 2002): ethnic restaurants are often over-stereotyped in order to please customers’ expectations (Germann-Molz, 2003 & Wood & Muñoz, 2007 In Muñoz & Wood, 2009). In fact, themed places are the product “of a cultural production process that seeks to use constructed spaces as symbols” (Gottdeiner, 1997 In Lego et al., 2002).

Various researches demonstrate that customers prefer restaurants that are perceived as more authentic (George, 2000 In Lu et al., 2015; Harris, 2016; Lu & Fine, 1995; Jang et al., 2012). However, customers are also aware that, when dining at an ethnic restaurant, their surrounding is more of an hyperreality (the “transformation of a stimulation of hype into something that is taken by an audience as real” (Solom & English, 1994 in Lego et al., 2002)) than an authentic setting (Ebster & Guit, 2005), meaning that “authenticity is in the eye of the beholder” (Lego et al., 2002).

In order to be successful, an ethnic restaurant must follow, among others, the principle to “stay true to the culture represented” (Harris, 2016). Harris (2016) explains that the authentic experience begins even before entering the restaurant: the landscapes (including the linguistic one) that are offered are already judged by the consumer as depicting what s/he perceive as truthful or not.

When studying ethnic restaurants in the context of a multilingual landscape, it is also important to consider how one culture comes in contact with the other. Food is considered as being an ethnic and cultural connector, and ethnic restaurants are more and more facilitating boundary-crossing by helping two cultures encounter each other in a non-threatening way (Barba, 2003 In Roseman, 2006). This means that any ethnic restaurant will represent a culture and (with high probability) a language which are probably foreign or not-well known to the local inhabitants. Other researchers discovered that ethnic restaurants are probably the only contact that a customer has with another country, which is why they can be considered as a “cultural ambassador” (Muñoz & Wood, 2009).

As said before, there are not enough researches that focuses on the language practices in ethnic restaurants. However, from this body of literature it can be inferred one thing: if authenticity is also depicted by the restaurant’s décor and design, then the language must be part of it. In fact, the language is part of the restaurant’s identity, because it gives even more clues in order to implicitly understand what “type” of restaurant one is (to begin to understand to which culture it is related. In other words, the way in which different languages are used (the one depicted by the ethnic restaurant and the one that is connected to the host country/region, in this case Switzerland, Lausanne) will probably demonstrate the adjustment made by the owners to portray a restaurant that is culturally-charged and at the same time accessible by the Lausanne’s population.

To conclude, it must be kept in mind that many owners of ethnic restaurants are more often than not born in another country (therefor, are not “native” Swiss), and they are probably still sentimentally attached to their culture of origin: “ethnic themes are a natural consequence of their heritage” (Jang et al., 2011), and Zelinski (In Roseman, 2006) argues that “the growth of ethnic cuisine is a leading indicator of an internationalized cosmopolitan culture”. To conclude, it is also due to ethnic restaurants that inhabitants can become familiar with languages foreign to them.



The data gathered for this research paper is situated in the city centre of Lausanne, where we collected still  images of six ethnic restaurants and five food services in which instances of multilingualism were found. Since these types of restoration have all a different history and ethnic background, we will not provide any contextualisation for each one of them.. Moreover, there is a significant lack of official statistics: except for TripAdvisor (thanks to which we are able to, at least some degree, offer custom’s beliefs about the service), there is no way to know exactly how many types of ethnic restaurants can be found in Lausanne, nor their history. However, it can be said that they are numerous: the only reason it was gathered so little data is due to the fact that this is a little exploratory project, not meant to be over-generalized for the entire Canton. Moreover, this is a qualitative analysis, which in itself is very difficult to generalize.  The data collected is composed of 6 restaurants, which includes two showcasing their Italian heritage (Cavallo Bianco and Giovanni Paolini) , two Chinese (Ningbo and Ma Jong), one Spanish (El Chiringuito) and One French (Launcheonnette) and 5 food service establishments (which are not exactly restaurants because they usually serve drinks or specific kind of food and customers will not go in there to have a full meal), which are composed of one Italian (Intrigo, gelateria, a local food service), the international commercial chain Starbucks, one international company which shows Swiss-German origins (Läderach) and one with Spanish heritage (La Bodega).

The locations of these food services and restaurants are very strategic: they are in the city centre of Lausanne and are easily accessible to all pedestrians. This might be one of the reasons why all of these restaurants and food services have positive comments on the website of TripAdvisor. Since there is lack of data on official statistics, TripAdvisor helped understand the way in which restaurants and food services chosen are perceived by the population that reviewed them. While considering oriental food services, more than the 50% of commenters reviewed “Excellent”, with the only exception of the Restaurant Ma Jong SA, who only had a frequency of excellency of 18%, but an overall 43% of “very good”.[1] Italian restaurants showed dissimilar statistics: more than half of commenters felt they were satisfied with their dining experience but not too much: overall, the restaurants presents a 50% frequency of “very good”, and a very low score for “excellent”.[2] The commercial chain Starbucks is found multiple times in the city centre, and the one chosen for this research has given a low rate: only 10% reviewed as “excellent” and only 33% “very good”.[3] On the contrary, the café restaurant “La Bodega” showed good ratings: 41% as “excellent” and 34% “very good”.[4] The same happened for the French café “Launcheonette” had a positive review: 52% of the clients reviewed the café as “excellent” while 22% as “very good”.[5] Regarding the German food service, “Läderach”, it is not found on TripAdvisor maybe because it is located in a shopping centre, the “Metropole” in the city centre. Finally, the Spanish restaurant “El Chiringuito” had a low rate compared to the Oriental restaurants and food services: 37% of “excellent” and 32% of “very good”.[6]



The data was collected from photographing commercial signs, menus, windows signs and product labels from various locations around Lausanne in order to capture the multilingual environment in restaurants and food shops in the Vaud Canton’s capital town. The commercial signs, street menus, and window signs are all visible from the exterior of these businesses, therefore, accessible for all pedestrians; while the product labels are mainly visible to shopping customers. The commercial and window signs incorporate both the opening hours, the buildings’ names and sometimes prices; whereas, the outside signs include the name of the business in its primary language and in a, or multiple, secondary visible language/s. The photographed menus were found in displays and framed boxes on the exterior or interior of the buildings.

This project helped us discover multiple key aspects of the multilingual environment in Lausanne.

At first, during our research on the streets of Lausanne, we thought that we would have found some typical French restaurants and food services, given the fact that Lausanne is in close proximity to France and the fact that French is the Canton’s national language. However, we discovered that French cuisine and restaurants are rare and difficult to find. Secondly, we found out that Chinese and Japanese and Italian food are more common than expected: Chinese cuisine and Chinese language can be found in specific ethnic restaurants, while instances of Italian can be found especially in “gelaterie” and ethnic Italian restaurants.

We assumed, while we were searching for restaurants, that we would have found more “Swiss restaurants” than we actually observed. However, after the analysis, we discovered that local restaurants and local cuisine are all around us, but given the fact that they do not appear too extravagant (their décor is the one we are used to, their food is the one we regularly eat …) we do not pay too much attention to them, while we are usually more attracted to and reminding more ethnic restaurants. What we thought was a lack of “our own culture” in the city of Lausanne, was simply an accustomation of our habits that made local restaurants almost invisible to us, while ethnic restaurants attracted our attention.



In our data collection we have found different first and secondary languages such as French, English, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and German. We have decided to group our data in three groups: the Asian (Chinese and Japanese food services) ethnic, the ethnic Italian and the mixed group (which is composed of French, Spanish, American and German establishments). Regarding the Asian restaurants and food services they are three: “Ningbo”, “Restaurant Ma Jong SA” and “Uchitomi”.

The Ningbo restaurant has as its first language Chinese and as second French. The photo of the commercial signs of the activity illustrates the first language as Chinese, which is the most visible, while, French is only seen in the little part of the sign. Moreover, the only thing written in French is “Sa” which denotes “Samedi”.

The “Restaurant Ma Jong SA” instead, presents as first languages both French and English, whereas Chinese is found only as a secondary language.

The photo here annexed, which illustrates the restaurant’s window, portrays that the first language is French because the information is first given in French, then in English.


The Chinese is present only in the name of the restaurant and to name the original dishes served in the restaurant.




Lastly, the food service Uchitomi presents in its first photo Japanese as a first language and French as a second. This photo is a commercial sign and the Japanese language is visible in the name of the company: “Uchitomi”, a name that we think is a transliteration of the food service’s name in the Latin alphabet. However, French also plays an important role: it explains what this shop sells, namely, “alimentation japonaise traiteur-sushi”.

The second “Uchitomi”’s photo presents instead as first language French and as second Japanese. This switch of first and second language is visible in the store’s window where it is written again “alimentation japonaise traiteur-sushi” with also the contacts for the customer: T standing for telephone and F for Fax, meaning that this information must be given in French. In the Asian (Chinese and Japanese) ethnic the importance of their own language (Chinese and Japanese) is important because it characterises to which type of cuisine the customer will be presented to; nevertheless, the fact that they are found in a landscape where Chinese and Japanese are not taught in schools as an obligatory language it makes impossible for an average Swiss customer to understand the products and all the information. As a result, having a secondary language which might be French or English is essential if they want to have profitability. Also, the Italian ethnic is composed by two restaurants and a food service.

In the food service “Intrigo Gelateria Lausanne”, the first languages is French while, as second is Italian. Even if in the commercial sign the bigger language written and mostly visible is Italian, “Intrigo” and “Quarta – Lecce”, all the information such as opening hours and the products sold (“Glaces italiennes artisanales”) are written in French. Therefore, Italian is only used to name the place.



The restaurant “Giovanni Paolini” presents in its restaurant’s window and commercial sign as primary language French, while as second Italian. The name of the restaurant clearly underlines its origins and the word “Trattoria – Pizzeria” also emphasises the “italianess” of the restaurant. However, most information is written in French (i.e. dishes, even if some are not translated, like “pizza margherita”). Therefore, Italian is only found in the name of the place and in the opening sign (even if it is also translated in French).



The last Italian restaurant is “Cavallo Bianco” and its commercial sign uses French as main language and Italian as second. The first language is French because all the important information is given in French, while the Italian is relegated only to the name of the restaurant, “Cavallo Bianco” and for dishes which are not translated (i.e. “Spaghetti Arrabbiata”, or “Pizza Turca”).




The last group collected is the mixed one and it is composed of one French Restaurant, “Luncheonette Café” which has as a first Language French and as second language English; one American food service “Starbucks”, composed by French as its first language and English as second; one Spanish restaurant “El Chiringuito” and one Spanish food service.


Regarding the Spanish food service, it is difficult to establish whether it is called “La Bodega” or “Aux 3 tonnaux”, that are not translations of each other. According to the website TripAdvisor, the food service is called in the French name, hence, in this case the primary language is French, but since, in the photo right under the French name there is in big characters “La Bodega”, we think that the name of the place is in the Spanish language. Therefore, “La Bodega” and “El Chiringuito” both have also French as its first language and Spanish as secondary language. “La Bodega” has as its secondary language Spanish because it only denotes the place’s name, indeed all the other information are written in French. Furthermore, in small characters there is also written in French “aux 3 tonnaux”.


Finally, there is a Swiss-German food service, Läderach, which possesses as first languages French and English and as second German. The German language is only used in the name of the place and it is not present elsewhere. Instead, French and English are equally represented: French used directly under the name “chocolatier Suisse” and on a sign “L’expérience du gout frais”, whereas English is on a smaller sign attached to the window saying, “the art of caramel”.



The Cafe’s window of the Luncheonette Café the French language conveys what is it sold, while English information typically known and used as “Take Away” and “Since 2012”.


In Starbucks instead, French is used only in the commercial sign because it is written in big, but all the drinks are named in English.









El Chiringuito’s commercial sign portrays that every meal is firstly written in French and then in smaller characters in Spanish. However, Spanish is present everywhere in this sign: from the name of the Restaurant to the name of the dishes and other dishes in the lower side of the sign.



It is difficult to answer the research question, whether the ethnic restaurant succeeded on reclaiming their own culture through their language(s) in a place where those languages are not officially recognised. Since there are not previous works which also analysed this aspect, the answer of this question is debatable. One answer might be yes: they succeed thanks to the name of the places, which most of the time is in the first language of the ethnic group. Nevertheless, it is not possible to define if only the name’s place is enough to establish the claim of culture. To reconnect to what Muñoz and Wood said about the authenticity, in the photos collected the landscape which surrounds the restaurants or food services helps to define whether the ethnic culture is claimed or not. One example is the food service “Uchitomi” which in its commercial signs portrays the image of a panda, the typical animal which represents the “Asian culture”. However, according to us what really depicts the claim of culture is the presence of the native language: the Italian group portrays successfully, in the name of the place, Italian words which gives immediately the perception of the typical Italian place; everyone knows what a “Pizzeria” is and immediately thinks of Italy. However, by looking only at the language, it is difficult to establish if the claim is succeeded or not. Unfortunately, the research concerns only the languages visible in commercial signs, store’s windows and so on, therefore, there is not a direct analysis on the “inside” of the place. It is impossible to define if the place is really “authentic” and claims the culture because, for instance, there is not a declaration whether waiters and waitress uses the native language (i.e. Italian) with customers (we believe that a questionnaire to the restaurant’s owner and workers would have answered this kind of questions). As a result, with the little data collected, we think that the groups who really succeeded on assessing their status of foreign culture as ethnic restaurants are food services which claims Italian and Asians (Chinese and Japanese) origins, because, firstly, they are the most recurrent ones (i.e. it is easier to find a Chinese restaurants than Spanish ones) and because they are the ones which do a heavier use of their primary language.



The data collected has been gathered in three groups: the Asian ethnic (composed of two restaurants, which respectively possess as first language Chinese and French and English, while as second French and Chinese, and one food service which has as first language Japanese and French and as second Japanese and French); the Italian ethnic (composed of two restaurants, which both possess French as primary language and Italian as secondary and a food service, which instead as first language possesses both French and Italian) and finally, the Mixed group (composed of a German food service with French and English as primary language and German as secondary; an American chain “Starbucks” with French as first language and English as second; a French restaurant with French as first language and English as second and finally, a Spanish restaurant and a Spanish food service which both have French as first language and Spanish as second).

Unfortunately, this paper had many limitations. The first and most important one is the very restricted data that was collected: only 11 restaurants and food services are not enough to generalize the results to a more general level (especially not on a national level). Moreover, we did not collect eleven specific ethnic restaurants (as i.e. eleven Chinese restaurants, in order to compare one to another one): we gathered all kinds of instances of multilingualism, which reduced even more the validity of our results. It is possible that an analysis that only takes in consideration Asian or Italian restaurants will show differences. Another limitation is the complete lack of literature on how multilingualism in ethnic restaurants works to enhance the culture of the owner (his/her own or the product of both his/her place of origins and the place in which s/he resides now), nor how customers perceive the different language. The body of literature focused more on the restaurant as a whole, trying to problematize how individuals perceive décor in general (décor is here meant as the external and internal look of the restaurant, the language used, the type of furniture that the restaurant displays, …), and not on the specifics of the language and how it works. Yet another big limitation is the fact that we did not have access to the owner’s reasoning while staging the restaurant: we believe that a questionnaire about what the use of two or more languages means for the owner would be a source of knowledge extremely important in this kind of researches. Moreover, we did not include in our research what customers think about the language used: considering that most customers will not be able to read i.e. Chinese, how would this lack of knowledge impact on their choice? Will they be less attracted by the restaurant if there was not any Chinese attesting its true origins? Will they be neutral to that? These are answers to which we cannot know or respond with our present researches.

We strongly believe that future researches, when analysing ethnic restaurants and their impact, should really focus on the use of different languages: how do they work, what customers perceive them to be, and what do they stand for the owner and the workers.



Ebster, C., & Guist, I., 2005. The role of authenticity in ethnic theme restaurants. Journal of Foodservice Business Research 7.2, 41-52.

Gorter, D. 2006. Further possibilities for linguistic landscape research. International Journal Multilingualism 3.2, 81-89.

Gorter, D., & Cenoz, J. 2017. Linguistic landscape and multilingualism. In: Cenoz, J., et al. (eds.). Language Awareness and Multilingualism. 3rd edition. Switzerland: Springer, 233-245.

Gorter, D., Marten, H. F., & Van Mensel, L. (Eds.). 2012. Minority Languages in the Linguistic Landscape. Basingstoke: Palgrave-McMillan.

Harris, K.J. 2016. Culture and theory: considerations for the ethnic restaurant and food safety culture. Athens Journal of Tourism 3.4, 263-272.

Jang, S.S., Liu, Y. & Namkung, Y. 2011. Effects of authentic atmospherics in ethnic restaurants: investigating Chinese restaurants. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 23.5, 662-680.

Lego, C.K., Wodo, N.T., McFee, S.L.& Solomon, M.R. 2002. A thirst of the real thing in themed retail environments. Journal of Foodservice Business Research 5.2, 61-74.

Lu, S., & Fine, G.A. 1995. The presentation of ethnic authenticity: Chinese food as a social accomplishment. The Sociological Quarterly 36.3, 535-553.

Lu, A.C.C., Gursoy, D., & Lu, C.Y. 2015. Authenticity perceptions, brand equity and brand choice intention: the case of ethnic restaurants. International Journal of Hospitality Management 50, 36-45.

Muñoz, N.L., & Wood, N.T. 2009. A recipe for success: understanding regional perceptions of authenticity in themed restaurants. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research 3.3, 269-280.

Roseman, M.G. 2006. Changing times: consumers choice of ethnic foods when eating at restaurants. Journal of Hospitality & Leisure Marketing 14.4, 5-32.



TripAdvisor, , accessed on 28.12.18.

[1] Uchitomi:→ accessed on  28.12.18 at 12:20.
Ningbo:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:20.

Ma Jong SA:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:22.

Intrigo:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:24.

Cavallo Bianco:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:31.

Giovanni Paolini:
→ accecsso 28.12.18 12.30.

Starbucks→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:27.

[4] La Bodega:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 14:30.

[5] Luncheonette Café:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:26.

[6] El Chiringuito:→ accessed on 28.12.18 at 12:28






La Bodega




El Chiringuito

Cavallo Bianco

Giovanni Paolini




Linguistic Landscape Analysis in Renens: A Case Study

by Danielle Robert and Maite Jorquera


Our research objective was to see what the signs in the front display, including their windows, of food-selling stores could tell us about the demographic presence, the legitimacy, and the image of the foreign languages in Renens. Our corpus consists of pictures taken of such windows in a precise radius, except for one, from the Renens train station because of the strong presence of commercial ethnic production around. We choose to incorporate those stores in our corpus on the basis on their multilingual display on their store display. Once compiled, we categorize analyze our corpus from choice(s) of language(s), monolingual versus multilingual, top-down and bottom-up, the immediate context of the language presence and overall context of Renens and also considering Piller’s analysis of commercial discourse. Our major findings amount to underestimating the presence of some linguistics minorities, such as Turkish, Portuguese and Albanese, while overestimating it for English and Italian.

I. Introduction

The semiotic linguistic material of a city — all the signs, the posters, the building numbers, the graffiti — contributes to the construction of the public space. It gives the space sense and meaning and guides the observer in their interpretation of that space. This material makes up the Linguistic Landscape (LL). This study takes the approach of multilingual LL analysis with an interest in the relationships between the languages used in a certain public space, and the agency, identity, and spatial claim they express. We gathered a small corpus of multilingual signage found in the storefronts of ethnic grocers and restaurants around the Renens train station and analyzed their form, content, and context according to the categories set out by Mooney and Evans (2011) and following Piller’s guide to analyzing commercial semiotic material (2001). Our research objective was to see what the signs in these stores could tell us about the demographic presence and the legitimacy of the foreign languages in Renens. After situating our research in earlier work on commercial multilingualism and LL in immigrant neighborhoods, we will detail the specific geographical and demographic context of our study, and our methodology. The results of our study will then be presented and discussed, pointing out some of the incongruencies and the difficulties we encountered.

II. Earlier Work

Mooney and Evans (2015) discuss the relevance of studying LL to the mapping of a city’s demographic situation. LL is a telling reflection of the languages actually used in a space and their status with regards to the local official language.  The use of a language marks its recognition and the power it holds. Mooney and Evans propose a series of categories for analyzing linguistic content according to its origin and its goals, which we exploited in the analysis of our research. Notably, they highlight the semiotic relevance of form: the form and support of a sign aid in the interpretation of its legitimacy. (Mooney and Evans 2015: 93-94). This is supported by Blommaert and Maly (2014), who analyze their corpus according to three axes: the production of the sign, the positioning of the sign, and the intended receiver.  Blommaert and Maly (2014) cover a case study in the Rabot neighbourhood in Gent, Belgium. The case study is similar to our own in many ways, concerning a historically industrial zone that sprouted up around a rail station and is today superdiverse, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and about 50% foreign. (Blommaert & Maly 2014: 8) When signs appear to be aimed at populations that are not documented by demographic statistics, this reflects “local reflex of global change.” (18) We will see that this dynamic component of LL is also found in our study.

Piller’s work on multilingual commercial content was an important guide to our analysis. She points out that many scholars agree that “representations of society in advertising have their basis in the social order, but at the same time, this social order is constantly being re-created by reference to model discourses such as advertising.” (Piller 2001: 156) Borrowing from O’Barr, Piller distinguishes between primary resources, which communicate information about a product, and secondary discourses, which communicate meaning about the consumer society. There are some parallels to our case here as well, as Piller points to her English-German corpus to show that paralinguistic devices are frequently used to reinforce the authority of the English content, while simultaneously all the factual information (such as contact details) is in German, the standard language. (Piller 2001: 163) By applying these principles to our corpus, various photos of interest emerge that aid in our understanding of the construction of the LL in Renens.

III. Contextualization

Our corpus is taken from linguistic content in the storefront windows of ethnic grocers and restaurants, within a 500-meter radius of the Renens train station. This municipality is in the West Lausanne District with a permanent resident population of 21 114 (Atlas Statistique du Canton de Vaud , 2018). According to Piguet’s studies on immigration patterns in the Greater Lausanne area (1994: 65), the communes of Renens and Crissier housed more foreign residents in 1994 than any other commune in Switzerland, and today are among the communes of Lausanne with the highest concentration of non-Swiss inhabitants: 51.4% of Renens’ total population is of foreign nationality. While the municipal website claims over a hundred nationalities, the Atlas statistique documents the following: 14.8% of the total population are Portuguese, 7.6% are Italian, 4.7% are French, 4.7% are Serbian or Kosovar, and 3.9% are Spanish. It is worth mentioning that the municipal website offers all cultural and administrative information in a large variety of languages. According to the municipal website, this highly concentrated diverse population can be linked back to the arrival of the train station, in 1875. The rapid industrialization of the growing city brought many immigrant laborers over the course of the 20th century. The industry has been replaced by tertiary activities today.

Piguet (1994) identifies two very differently distributed immigrant populations in Greater Lausanne. The group of interest to this study is concentrated in the city center and West Lausanne, and originates mainly from Spain, Italy, Asia, South America, Africa, and Ex-Yugoslavia. In Renens and neighbouring communes where these populations are highest, 25% of the population had a revenue inferior to 29 900 francs/year in 1990. These communes also have a considerably lower average cost of rent and housing than those with higher concentrations of North European and North American immigrants. (Piguet 1994: 65) These characteristics help to explain the higher concentration of certain nationalities of lower socioeconomic status in and around Renens.

We were interested in Renens after observing a strong presence of ethnic restaurants and grocers, which is confirmed by the municipal website: food shops and cafés, bars, restaurants and take-away represent 35.5% of Renens’ economic fabric. We therefore chose to concentrate on ethnic food-oriented businesses, considering them to be plentiful and representative of Renens.

FIGURE 1. Boundaries of our corpus and selected establishments.

IV. Methodology

Based on the observation that the three most predominant linguistic communities in the Catholic parish of Renens are the Lusophone, the Italophone, and the Hispanophone communities, we expected to find evidence of these three communities in the LL. When we first went in search of evidence however, we were surprised to find little to no Spanish or Italian, but we did notice a large number of ethnic restaurants and kiosk-style small grocers. Further investigation into the demographic composition of Renens provided some insight. We decided to refocus our search on signs on the store fronts of these ethnic grocery shops and restaurants, in order to analyze what these signs could tell us about the demographic presence and the legitimacy of the foreign languages in Renens. We hypothesized that we would find Portuguese and Italian well represented, as the two largest immigrant populations in Renens, along with the presence of English, given the commercial orientation of our institutions of choice. We composed a small corpus of photos of fixed and temporary signs in storefronts that featured either multilingual signs or monolingual signs in more than one language. Signs include advertising of products and brands, the name of the store, posters for events, formal business information such as opening hours, menus, and information regarding social services relevant to the clientele. We then classified the signs according to several criteria, proposed in Mooney and Evans (2011: 87-98): (1) monolingual or multilingual, (2) languages present and their status (official, immigrant), (3) principle or secondary language in the storefront, (4) official or unofficial discourse, (5) regulatory discourse, (6) infrastructural discourse, (7) commercial discourse, and (8) transgressive discourse. Finally, we used the guidelines set out by Coulmas (2018: 137) to research the social, economic, historical and linguistic variables of the area.

V. Results

Our corpus of photos shows the presence of various linguistic communities. Figure 1 illustrates the languages identified and how many of the nine storefronts in our corpus present each language.


French, the official language of the canton of Vaud, is omnipresent in the Renens LL. In Blommaert and Maly’s (2014: 8) case study in the Rabot neighbourhood of Gent, Belgium, they noted that Dutch was used in all top-down, infrastructural, and regulatory discourse, as well as serving as the lingua franca when a speaker’s linguistic background was not known. This is also the case of French in Renens. Due to the scope of this study, we excluded monolingual francophone storefronts from our corpus. Regardless, the occurrence of French in multilingual storefronts is constant: despite the variation in the amount of another language present, some practical information such as store hours is always displayed in French. English also figures in a third of the storefronts photographed, but is mainly present in brand slogans.

The presence of migrant languages in the storefronts ranges from being part of the name of the business, to having a more discreet presence, such as in the Turkish kiosk that only features one A4 advertisement on the window in Turkish and in French. Three storefronts have Portuguese content: a nonprofessional poster advertising a cultural event entirely in Portuguese features in the window of an apparently French tea-room, while two other advertisements in the Portuguese bakery are almost monolingually Portuguese, and another kiosk displays various window signs aimed at Lusophones such as a Catholic event ad and information to help Portuguese-speakers manage foreign fortunes in Switzerland. Two storefronts display Turkish content, including a travel agency poster entirely in Turkish, and another kiosk has an A4 typed notice both in Turkish and in French. While Albanian only appears in one storefront, this restaurant displays all information in Albanian, except  the store hours which are in French. One business uses Spanish throughout its display and also gives the opening hours in French. Finally, one business displays the name of the store in Saigonese, a dialect of Vietnamese specific to the Ho Chi Minh City area, with all other information in French. This is also the case of an Italian pizzeria.

According to the categories used by Mooney and Evans (2011), our corpus is mainly commercial, with a few exceptions. Regulatory discourses are present when the store has the official “No Smoking” sticker, which is always in French. It is the commercial signs that present the largest variety languages. The choice of which language is central or peripheral (used beside the main language) in these stores varies. If we consider a language to be central according to the space it occupies in the storefront as a whole, much of the linguistic material in our corpus would be considered peripheral to French. However, there are exceptions.

VI. Discussion

On the presence and actual statistics of each language present in our corpus, we were surprised not to find more Italian signs in our radius, considering how large the documented population is. The Italian presence is connotational in our corpus, only present in the store name and indicating the type of store (“ristorante”) for symbolic value but doesn’t actually have much communicative value. All factual information is given in French. We were also surprised by a storefront presenting almost exclusively Albanian material, with the only exception being opening hours and “Watch the step” given in French.

FIGURE 3. Albanian restaurant.

As non-Albanian speakers, it was impossible for us to identify what kind of restaurant this was without researching it. This is representative of the intended Albanian-speaking clientele. Despite the otherwise complete absence of this language from the LL of Renens, municipal data indicates that 4.7% of Renens’ population is of Serbian and Kosovar nationality. Despite this, only one Albanian-speaking food establishment is present in our radius, and we are unable to deduce the reason for this underrepresentation.

The form of some bilingual signs retained our interest. For example, there is one small advertising printed on a simple A4 sheet which announces a Turkish specialty at the top of the page in Turkish and then in French below.

FIGURE 4. In a Turkish kiosk window: an announcement in Turkish above and in French below.

The handmade nature enacts the voice of the individuals that use this space, and the position of Turkish on the page makes a strong statement about the role of this language in this space. Statistically speaking, Turkish is overrepresented in our corpus as there are only 800 documented individuals in Renens according to the Commission Intégration Suisse Etranger Renens (2014), and yet our photos suggest that they have quite a visible and active community.

Two Portuguese-language signs in our corpus retained our interest due to the choice of language. In the bakery, Portuguese is very central inside the store and also in its front window, despite the name of the store being in French, and its window-advertising is mainly in Portuguese. While English appears in the event ad, its use is only connotational. One example of the reciprocal relationship between advertising and society  (Piller 2001: 156) in our corpus is the nonprofessional Portuguese poster about a community event, because it portrays the author’s idea of what is appealing to someone belonging to a Portuguese linguistic community,  for example by featuring typical Portuguese instruments.

As mentioned earlier on the English language present, it is mainly used in brand slogans, such as Evian’s “live young.” While Leeman and Modan (2009: 335) might argue that this is solely for the purpose of product recognition, Evian specifically is a French brand. Therefore, the use of English in their international marketing does support Piller’s theories on the use of English for connotational value (2001: 167-169) and transmitting ideologies, whereby this brand constructs an implied customer who is fit and healthy, and associates English to the truth and authority of the slogan.

Another use of an ethnic or immigrant language in the store name, common in our corpus, is in the Vietnamese street food shop with the shop name in Saigonese.

FIGURE 5. Saigonese street food shop.

The presence of this language suggests an invisible linguistic community in Renens, even though only 48 Vietnamese residents are documented as recently as 2014 (Commission Intégration Suisse Etranger Renens). The use of a Saigonese store name may act as a guarantee of authenticity and commodify Vietnamese street food for a mostly non-Saignose-speaking clientele (see Leeman and Modan 2009 on commodifying foreign languages). It is unfortunately impossible to confirm this hypothesis, as the business closed shortly after our corpus was composed and therefore so did the Saigonese population disappear from Renens’ LL. This recalls an example in the Blommaert and Maly (2014) case study; they emphasize the dynamic quality of the neighbourhood and the languages present.

Finally, two photos of interest catch our attention because of what they communicate about the expected bilingualism of the intended audience: the Turkish-only advertising in a kiosk window and the non-professional Portuguese-only advertising are both factual examples of how confident their authors are in their reception by the target linguistic audience, as French is completely absent from them. This is supported by Piller’s work as she argues that stores using the standard “[signals] doubt about the bilingual proficiency of the audience.” (Piller 2001: 163) It follows that the usage of uniquely monolingual content shows the producer’s confidence in the fluency of the targeted audience.

VII. Conclusion

Our research objective was to see what the signs in these stores could tell us about the demographic presence, the legitimacy, and the image of the foreign languages in Renens. We originally hypothesized that in addition to the official language of the canton, French, we would find Portuguese and Italian well represented, along with English in a commercial role. However, that is not what we actually found: English was effectively present in connection to certain products but less than expected. The presence of Portuguese and Turkish material was underestimated at first, as  they make up the majority of the visibly multilingual ethnic food stores and restaurants we located. As for Italian, Spanish, and Albanian, they are only marginally present in our corpus,  with one store for each. The presence of the Saigonese grocer also points to less visible linguistic minorities in Renens.

Overall, the presence of other languages in the  LL of Renens is more discreet than one might expect, given that more than half of the population is foreign. We found that a number of establishments choose to limit their use of multilingual semiotic content to the store name and brand, suggesting that some foreign languages, such as Italian, are used connotatively for the cultural image that they communicate. This may speak to the legitimacy of immigrant languages in the public space. French is always used for official information and with a communicative value, versus other languages that often have a symbolic connotative value. There is however almost a second level of authenticity, as some languages claim their space in the public view via content solely available in an immigrant language. In other words, French is the authentic official language of francophone Switzerland, managing all regulatory and infrastructural discourse even here in Renens, but a number of other linguistic communities (namely, Portuguese and Turkish) are active and visible, and choose to claim their space in a superdiverse community with publicly visible content destined only for non-francophone consumption.

We can conclude from this study that the LL of Renens as seen in food establishments does not correlate entirely with the statistically documented demographic of Renens, with some important linguistic groups being almost completely absent, while overs are largely over represented. Besides French, Turkish and Portuguese benefit from a certain amount of legitimacy and presence in the public space, appearing in monolingual material or accompanied by French or English. French is omnipresent with a denotative and communicative value, while English is mostly reserved for use in brand recognition and advertising with a symbolic value. Other languages also figure in symbolic use, often in store names. Finally, the presence and then sudden disappearance of the Saigonese street food shop speaks to the  “rapid social and cultural change [that] defines the superdiverse neighbourhood and its permanent demographic turnover.” (Blommaert & Maly 2014: 10)

Our findings are limited by the size of our corpus. It should be mentioned that just as there are a large number of Kebab businesses (at least six, according to Google Maps) that did not make it into our corpus for lack of multilingual content visible from the street. There are also many pizzerias and Italian restaurants around the Renens gare (at least eight). Also, our study was inconclusive on the reasons for under-representation of the Albanian linguistic community in the LL. Our choice to only focus on food establishments also influences our findings, as certain populations tend to find their niche in certain commercial domains. Our results would have been very different had we, for example, chosen to research languages present in the well over 20 hairdresser and personal grooming establishments within the same radius. Further investigation to deepen the understanding of linguistic choice in this LL could analyze a larger, more exhaustive corpus, or take a more ethnographic approach to the corpus already present, drawing whatever information possible from the users of these spaces, such as trying to reach out the owners with interviews or open questions for example.



The Hospitality Industry in Lausanne: Attraction of Ethnicity and Commercial Multilingualism

The Hospitality Industry in Lausanne:  Attraction of Ethnicity and Commercial Multilingualism

Samantha Crupi, Chloé Vicat-Cole



This paper investigates the role of East Asian commercial activities (with the use of Japanese and Chinese), predominantly restaurants, in Lausanne, namely in the area between Valentin district and Lausanne-Flon, including Place Saint-François. The presence of bilingual or multilingual signs brings along the use of a strategic multilingualism: by advertising traditional dishes and products, mostly in the language connected to the restaurant’s national origins, the message that is conveyed is that of authenticity. Our research tries to understand how the native languages in these signs are used to attract locals, tourists, people speaking the same tongue, or with a receptive knowledge of it and how they are employed in the creation of a foreign cultural space for the customer.

1. Introduction

As people arrive from other countries, they do not only carry their cultural baggage, but they bring also their different languages and expressions. Big urban cities tend to attract immigrants more than provincial areas (Zachary, 2006). Because of the appeal of cities, different cultural networks are created, where some communities establish themselves, distance from other cultures, or blend with the diversity of the cultures. An example of this phenomenon is Lausanne, with a percentage of 43.1% foreigners, presenting a wide variety of languages, including the ones investigated in this research. In Switzerland, during 2016, the foreigners were at 2 million people, with a 10.6% of Asian origins, that includes a 0.27% of Japanese people and 0.85% from China.

Within the European territory there are large differences in population size amongst EU nation-states (Extra & Yagmur, 2010). European nations are distinguished by the language proper to the territory. Even though there is the presence of other languages than the official ones in Switzerland, these migrant languages are obscured by this “match between nation-state references and official state language references” (Extra & Yagmur, 2001, p.1173). The languages spoken by minor groups in the cities of Switzerland may reveal themselves with their presence in writings and signs.

The presence of East Asian culture and languages in Swiss town is nonetheless strong and used to commercialize shops and restaurants. The theme approached by our research on a city characterized by multilingualism, the town of Lausanne, is the use of the Japanese and Chinese language in commercialization of products and restaurants and as a way to communicate with as many people as possible. More precisely, our research will investigate the exploitation of culturally themed East Asian restaurants as a way to attract tourists and commercialize a certain ethnicity.

Our research will firstly present a theoretical framework about the use of semiotic material in cities and how ethnicity can be exploited in the hospitality industry. Then the ares taken into account for the research will be briefly contextualized. The methodology for the collect of the material analyzed will be explained. Afterwards, the results of the analysis of the places taken into account for the study will be unfolded, along with a discussion of the results. The paper will conclude with a brief summary of what the research helped us determine about our hypothesis.

The following examples are Asian restaurants situated in Lausanne, starting from the Eglise Saint-Laurent, and following the streets scatter from the latter. The routes taken are Rue Pré-du-Marché, Rue Pichard, and Rue-Grand-Saint-Jean. Our research includes also the area of Lausanne-Flon. 

2. Theoretical Framework

In cities and towns there is an abundance of ‘semiotic’ material, which is related to semiotics, namely the study of signs and symbols (Semiotics, n.d.). Signs, posters and other commercial advertisement material covers all of the environment of the city around us, composing the linguistic landscape. As underlined by Ben-Rafael, Shohamy and Barni, as cited by Mooney & Evans (2015), the ‘linguistic objects…mark the public space’ (p. 87). The continuous presence of signs and adverts have an influence on the individual, who can be attracted particularly by certain of them. This attraction comes from how the sign are structured and designed. The color of the image they figure can be a source of allure to people. Moreover, the language used represents a crucial factor for what concerns the information that the sign is giving and to whom it is addressed to. In adopting multilingual signs, the producer is choosing an audience and a certain way to approach and attract the potential addressee. 

Given that signs are often conceived with the intention to attract a potential costumer, East Asian restaurants in Lausanne use ethnically based themes and their native language as a way to create a cultural separated environment from the city, where the client will picture her/himself in another place and decorations that evoke a different culture. Ebster and Guist (2005), in their research in the authenticity of the ethnic theming in restaurants, determined that theming is used to provide the customers with a “unique experience” that will differentiate “their business from the competition” (p. 42). The uniqueness offered by these kinds of restaurant will attract tourists and locals, who would like to experience something outside the ordinary. Gilmore and Pine, as cited by Ebster and Guist (2004), noted that that marketers have been increasingly using theming as “a marketing tool to provide their costumers with a unique experience, and to differentiate their business from the competition” (p. 42), demonstrating that theming is important and prevalent in the hospitality industry.

The language is used as a way to communicate to the costumer, therefore the choice of language is “never random” (Pahta, 2007, p. 284). Holmes, in her study, as commented by Pahta (2007), examines how “advertising and other market-driven discourses use languages and exploit linguistic difference in order to sell products and services” (p. 285). The discrepancy created between the native language of the client and the language used in restaurants (in the signs and menus) creates a space of discovery for the client, who will the possibility of experiencing a different culture from his own, or at least to imagine himself in another place. The appearance of an unfamiliar culture is communicated through the use of the foreign language in the restaurant.

This research demonstrates that the choice of language used in a commercial sign is an important factor that is exploited to sell a certain image of a place, in our case a restaurant. Whereas the use of clichés as the foundation of a cultural themed restaurants will attract tourists in search for “alien delights” (p. 70), as stated by Zelinsky, and cited by George (2009). 

3. Contextualization

Lausanne, situated in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, being the capital of Canton Vaud, represents a centre of development, where economy, urbanism and public transport are in a continuous modification. According to the Office d’appui économique et statistique (2017), Lausanne has now 144’000 inhabitants, of which approximately 40’000 are foreigners, making it the fourth most populated city in Switzerland.

The area taken into account for this research includes the streets passing near the Saint-Laurent Eglise. Because of the central position of the latter, it has the possibility of witnessing the life of the city. The portrait figured over the entrance of the church of Martin Luther King attracts the pedestrians, inviting them to take the holy place into consideration in their daily routine. The Saint-Laurent Eglise constitutes a pole from which many streets with different shops and restaurants branch off.

Among the areas of Lausanne taken into consideration for this research, there is Flon. The latter was once used as a warehouse for cargo, but has now become Lausanne’s most innovative and modern neighborhood. Flon hosts shopping centres, offices, parking lots, bars and night clubs. The area preserved the original style of the 1900 with its rectangular shaped buildings squared compounds. It starts from Place d’Europe and is enclosed between Avenue Jules Gonin, Rue des Terreaux and Pont Chauderon. The two areas taken into account for the research are based on the popularity they have among tourists and locals too, they represent the core of marketing in Losanne.

4. Methodology

The data collected for this study is formed from eleven signs from eight different East Asian commercial activities located in downtown Lausanne, collected personally by ourselves while roaming around the city center. More precisely, we focused on the area from Valentin district to Flon, including Place Saint-François. Twelve photos were taken starting from Rue Pré-du-Marché, then continuing on Rue Pichard and Rue Grand-Saint-Jean, until Place Saint-François. Finally we ended up in the Quartier du Flon. 

The subjects chosen are signs placed outside activities, in which bilingual (or multilingual) written messages are presented. In particular, we selected East Asian related commerces, mostly restaurants, which display different cultural networks that spread around the city by mixing multiple languages, usually French (the official language spoken in Lausanne) along with Japanese or Chinese (or another Asian language, both in Roman and Chinese transcriptions). The choice of prioritizing Asian signs occurred mainly because of the several Asian advertisements composing the linguistic landscape of downtown Lausanne. The analysis has been developed firstly on the choice of the language in written signs, its support (or medium), the activity domain,  the type of sign. Another element of the analysis concerned whether the sign were examples of a bottom-up or top-down relationship. We distinguished a bottom-up with a top-down relationship on the basis of the source of the written sign: in a bottom-up relationship the message is not official, it is produced by individual or small groups; in a  top-down relationship the message is released by the government, local councils or the owner of a building or site, the composition presents official languages or/and a strategic multilingualism. The use of strategic multilingualism indicates the choices of a certain language as a strategy to attract the largest number of costumers possible. From the analysis, we expected to face a variety of Asian multilingualism in restaurants and shop’s signs, aiming to attract citizens who are willing to experience different cultural traditions. Furthermore, we were surprised to encounter so many commercials related to the South-East Asia, meaning that this kind of business is very popular nowadays. Contrary to many cities in the world, downtown Lausanne does not have a specific area that is called “Chinatown”, where all Asian commercial activities and traditions are gathered together. Instead, it is possible to find them scattered in the whole city center. 

5. Results  

Written instances in different languages are linguistic landscape strategic tools that actively appeal to whoever would ever visit, work or live in a given city. In every example we provided, there is a mixture between characters from the Roman transcriptions and the Japanese/Chinese writing systems, occasionally English borrowings are included within the signs. The first image displays the front entrance of an Asian restaurant, called “Le Dynasty”, located in Place Saint-François. The sign is characterized by a combination of French as the official language, English as lingua franca and Chinese as second language. Here, visitors and citizens do not need to understand any of the languages proposed, since it is clear what this restaurant offers: people are familiar to the Chinese transcriptions even though they do not understand the language, therefore they easily link the restaurant to Asian cooking. French is therefore used for a communicative purpose, it gives  more details on the cuisine offered. Similarly, English sentences “Fast Food” (as well as the example of Picture 3) and “Take   Away” are utilized worldwide to indicate a fast cooking that  can be delivered directly home, or that can be eaten to go. In this particular case, English also adds informations about the services, that include take away and fast food. Nowadays, this type of food is especially popular in cities because of the life people endure. Life is moving faster in big cities and time is precious for workers, therefore the quickest cookings are prioritized. For this reason, the choice of a certain language fall for a specific one rather than others. This commercial sign is taking advantage of these circumstances, thus it puts forward visual symbols to attract costumers who are looking for these particular services. The information (Picture 1) are written in French, the official language, although it was already clear what type of restaurant is presented. This sign was meant to adapt to what cities represent. In other words, the owner of the restaurant benefits from the popularity of fast and take away Asian cooking in order to attract as many costumers as possible. For these reasons, this type of sign  corresponds to an example of top-down relationship, since the owner is implementing a strategic multilingualism to increase the appeal of his own activity. 

Picture 1. Sign of  Le Dynasty Restaurant

Picture 2. Sign of Majong Restaurant

Picture 3. Window text of Majong Restaurant

Another common strategy of Asian restaurants is based on the authenticity of the products that are offered. It is interesting to notice how the entrance of the Asian restaurant “Ningbo”, placed in Rue Pichard, is highlighted by the red board with a Chinese inscription on it (Picture 4). The pedestrians immediately recognize what kind of service this restaurant is offering, they are instantly projected into a different culture, namely this monolithic commodification of the Chinese culture constructed for the market.

Picture 4. Sing of Ningbo Restaurant

Picture 5. Close-up of the Menu of Ningbo Restaurants

Subsequently, in case of interest, people need to come closer to check the menu. The menu, next to the French description of the particular meal, provides of the Chinese description as well  (Picture 5). French is also employed as translations within the advertisement poster outside the building (Picture 6). As a result the client will feel even more distant from the diner, allowing him/her to feel the restaurant as a true Asian experience, pulling him/her away from the traditional European culture of Lausanne. According to Zukin’s research (1998), culture is a way to define public space and to justify its takeover on the basis of commercial benefits. The city center is aimed to attract costumers and it causes consumption to become an integral part of the culture. The owner of the commercial activities are delivering these messages, influencing potential costumers into visiting their business, therefore this relationship can be classified as top-down. 

Picture 6. Sign outside of  Ningbo Restaurant

Picture 7. Sign of Uchitomi Shop

Down Rue Grand-Saint-Jean, there is the Japanese food shop “UCHITOMI”. The name of the shop is first written in the Latin alphabet, beneath it the Japanese characters are also used (Picture 7). Nearby the entrance of the shop the sign that presents the daily menu is exposed. The offer is presented with a mixture of Japanese and French words: Bento is a Japanese term indicating a particular tray, a typical object in the Japanese cuisine, then it follows “du jour” that guarantee s the major attention of passers-by (Picture 8), since French is  the official language spoken in Lausanne. Thanks to this mixture, tourists and citizens do not need to be part of a determinate culture, or to learn a foreign language neither, to understand the message that stands behind commercial signs and they are encouraged to come in to taste an authentic Asian experience, even though in reality is just a construction and therefore, an illusion. 

Picture 8. Sign outside of Uchitomi Shop


6. Discussion

The signs used by the restaurant owners in Lausanne, show how the Asian culture is used as a way to capture the passers-by’s interest in another culture. 

The examples proposed in the pictures figure an adaptability to native people of Switzerland and tourism, by following a concept built as a strategy for market, meaning that the advertisement utilized correspond to the same concept of cliché-based ethnicity (Ebster and Guist, 2004). Chinese and Japanese inscriptions recall East-Asian countries, and in this particular case the cuisine attached to: the potential customers is witnessing an experience of a constructed authentic Asian experience because of the translations provided. The multiple languages suggested in the same sign, extend the public able to recognize what type of service a company is offering. Language becomes consequently a strategy to draw potentials costumers, as Leeman and Modan (2009) state: “urban planners and city leaders have sought to draw suburbanites back into the city by offering them shopping, dining and cultural experiences not available in the suburbs” (p. 339). In their study, they analyze how Chinatown in Washington DC appeal to the whole city: it increases the consumption in big cities and it proposes new experiences that people from the countryside cannot encounter. Likewise, downtown Lausanne is mixing different cultures and traditions to extend its cultural baggage and to put forward its citizens and tourists to extra cultural experiences.

7. Conclusion

The city center is where the different languages spoken in certain areas of the town enter in contact with each other, thus it is a place where multilingualism is not only present but also needed: multilingualism provides a way of communication but is mostly exploited by the hospitality industry to make people understand certain signs and attract clients. By emphasizing a different language from the one of the speaker, the restaurants and shops want to create an exotic place, where the client will detach from his everyday life and will experience something out of the ordinary. 

Our hypothesis was that to attract costumers, as shown by the signs analyzed, East Asian restaurants and shops would exploit and emphasize their foreign language, enough to make costumers feel interested in a place out of the ordinary. By placing the costumer in another cultural setting, the aim is to provoke a sentiment of estrangement, allowing him/her to feel like being in another town, and feeling, as states above, “alien delights” (George, 2009, p. 70).

The client is looking for an adventure that will exit his routine, and this feeling can be created by the examples given in the Results section. The hypothesis formulated before our research has been confirmed by the large choice of Asian restaurants that presents numerous writings in their native language mixed with French and English.

Our research confirmed what we already hypothesized about the use of Asian signs. It would be interesting, for future researches, to conduct this study in a city where there are agglomerations of foreign restaurants and shops and see how they affect the native people of the city. Such a research could be run in Little Italy or in Chinatown in New York city.


Esbter, C., & Guist, I. (2008). The Role of Authenticity in Ethnic Theme Restaurants. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 7, 41–52.

Extra, G., & Yagmur, K. (2011). Urban Multilingualism in Europe: Mapping Linguistic Diversity in Multicultural Cities. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 1173–1184.

George, T. R. (2009). Journal of Restaurant & Foodservice Marketing. Dining Chinese, 4(2), 67–86.

Leeman, J., & Modan, G. (2009). Commodified Language in Chinatown: A Contextualized Approach to Linguistic Landscape. Journal of Sociolinguistics13(3), 332–362.

Mooney, A. & Evans, B. (2015). Language, Society and Power. Oxon: Routledge.

Pahta, P. (2007). Advertising as Multilingual Communication.Language in Society 36(2), 284–289.

Zachary, G. (2006). Immigrants as urban saviors: When Immigrants Revive a City and When They Don’t- Lessons from the United States, 1.

Zukin, S. (1998).  Urban Lifestyles: Diversity and Standardization in Spaces of  Consumption. Urban Studies, 825–839.


MySwitzerland website. Available on: Accessed on 26.12.2018

Official website of the city of Lausanne. Available on: Accessed on 26.12.2018

Official statistics of Lausanne, on the official website of Lausanne. Available on: Accessed on 20.12.2018

Official statistics of Swiss tourism 2017, on the official site of the Federation of Switzerland. Available on: Accessed on 26.12.2018

Official website of the Saint-Laurent Eglise. Available on: Accessed on 28.12.2018


  1. Pictures of the remaining signs not discussed in detail in this paper: 

1.1 Name of a Chinese Restaurant located in Rue Grand-Saint-Jean.

1.2 Sign of a Chinese clinic offering traditional curative medicine located in Rue Haldimand. 

1.3 Japanese Restaurant with typical Japanese objects at the entrance (Japanese lantern).

Role of language on shop signs in Chauderon, Lausanne by Salma Romero, Maxime Jaquet & Nicolas Verdes

  1. Abstract

Our paper investigates the role of language on shop signs in Chauderon, one of the sub-sectors of Lausanne, Switzerland. We found that language in shop signs had different roles, some were more used to attract customers through the trends surrounding their use, other target a specific ethnicity but don’t exclusively attract foreigners as they try to get to everyone. Some of the establishment we focused on even displayed a different language on their window than the one that is most used in the back stages or with the clientele.

  1. Introduction

The mapping of specific Linguistic landscapes has been theorized and analyzed in various cities and locations through different focal points whether it was shop signs, road signs, or even public spaces. Landry and Bourhis put the first accepted definition of linguistic landscape forth in 1997 in their paper it refers to “the visibility and salience of languages on public commercial signs in a given territory or region. It is proposed that the linguistic landscape may serve important informational and symbolic functions as a marker of the relative power and status of the linguistic communities inhabiting the territory”. Since then, many researchers modified certain aspects of the notion of Linguistic Landscape without changing its essence. For example, Lü Hefa defines the Linguistic Landscape through the information of the sign, whereas Landry and Bourhis focus on the language itself, or even, as most studies tend to focus on the construction of space in city centers, through the signs present, which some researchers refer to as “linguistic landscape” as “linguistic cityscape” as presented in Jingjing Wang (2013). In the case of this study, the focus is on shop signs, as these are mirrors of ethnic groups with their corresponding languages and specific targeted demographic. The “shop sign” is a well-documented study which, with much research focusing on either famous cities or even smaller ones for example the two texts following. In order to give context to this study, we used two texts for comparison, the first one is from Alexander Nikolau (2017) and the second text is from Jingjing Wang (2013). As we decided to focus on shop signs specifically, context was an important point, therefore presenting two approaches to linguistic landscapes, one in Europe and the other in Asia, seemed appropriate.

The aim of this research is to examine the role of the languages appearing on various shop signs in Chauderon. We will analyze these signs as informational tools for potential customers. In our contextualization section, we provide information on Chauderon, its history and its demography. In the Methodology section we explain that we gathered pictures of the various shop sings on windows we found with our smartphones, where languages other than French were present. As we collected this data, we decided to separate it in various categories such as man and secondary languages, as well as top-down or bottom-up. The point of this study is to find a link between various shops signs and ethnic businesses, as well as emphasize the information provided by these various shop signs to the customer. Therefore, in our result section, we present this data sorted through our categories and draw the conclusions such as: English is used in order to attract the client rather than telling that English is a spoken language of the shop, or even that the shop present the use of an alphabet which does not match the language spoken.

  1. Theoretical framework

For this study, we decided to base our research on three different studies, two of which are strictly studies of Linguistic Landscape of cities such as Athens and Beijing while the other text served as our basis for definitions and theories about the concept of “linguistic landscape”. We focused more on the former texts, as they more closely resembled our study. The study of Landry and Bourhis in 1997, treated the topic in a more general way, since it established the basis of “linguistic landscape studies”, while not being the first one to study signs. A linguistic landscape “refers to the visibility and salience of languages on public commercial signs in a given territory or region. It is proposed that the linguistic landscape may serve important informational and symbolic functions as a marker of the relative power and status of the linguistic communities inhabiting the territory”. This definition served as our basis for our study; however, the second part concerning the “informational and symbolic functions” seemed even more important as our study revolve around these notions. The symbolic elements and the informational elements of these signs served various purpose further discussed in our results and discussion sections.

The article by Jingjing Wang (2013), is a study on shop signs on Wangfujing Street in the city of Beijing, focused on the occurrence of various languages such as English, Japanese, French or even Arabic, in order to find a link between China’s language policies and the results. The results were analyzed with unilingual and bilingual occurrences as factors. In our analysis, we further divided these two factors in sub categories such as main language, secondary, as well as their potential symbolic value. In the case of Beijing, Wang assumed that as Wangfujing Street is in center of Beijing, it was more subject to trends, and fast development, which would result in a rapid and substantial presence of foreign languages as foreigners traveled temporarily to China or with intent to stay there, therefore being the ones for whom trends were so important. The results out of 89 samples, coincided with the assumption that English is a dominant foreign language as 45 % of the signs contained English in them whereas only 27% were Chinese only. These numbers are the results of the People’s Republic policies: The standardization of Chinese, the propagation of English and the development of minority languages (Wang, J. 2013). This text allowed us to contextualize Chinese development of multilingualism through shop signs and give us reference for more precise research such as Landry and Bourhis (1997).

However, the text, which served as comparison to our study is the one by Alexander Nikolau[1]. In his research, Nikolau mentions the difference between indexical and symbolic choice of language for shop signs (as cited in Nikolau, 2017). A foreign language might be used as a way to indicate the owner’s ethnicity thus attracting people from that same ethnicity or language, in that case, the language is indexical. Whereas symbolic choice aims to represent something all people associate with that language, this is often the case for restaurants serving Italian food or places using the English language for its common association with modernity. Very often Italian restaurants are not actually owned by Italian people, the language only serves as an indicator for the type of cuisine that is served there. English is associated with modernity perhaps for historical reasons having to do with USA’s industrialization during the 1950s and even today with enterprises like Apple or Microsoft being established there.

  1. Contextualization

The districts of the city of Lausanne are separated into subsectors. Lausanne’s Centre is the third most populated district with 12’770 inhabitants representing around 8.9% of the population of the city. This district is separated in 10 different sub-sectors. Our study focuses on Chauderon, one of these sub-sectors, located at the northwestern end of the neighborhood (see Fig.1). We chose this area because one of us lives there and noticed several shops displaying foreign languages. According to the Office d’appui économique et statistique, Chauderon is at the same time the second most populated as well as the second denser sub-sector of Lausanne Center. In addition to this, it is also the sub-sector of the district that displays the largest number of inhabitants of foreign origin. These numbers amounted to 1131 in December 2017, which represents 51.8% of the population in the neighborhood. These statistics are even more interesting considering that the average of the district is 45.6% and that of the city is found to be 43%.

Chauderon has three main functions, accommodation, the presence of mainly tertiary sector employment, and to a lesser extent secondary sector employment, as well as mobility. In Chauderon’s history it is evident that what distinguishes this place in the city of Lausanne is that it has been and still is to this day a mobility center. The Chauderon station built in 1873 still exists today, although in the meantime it has become an underground one. Its bridge built in 1905 and the piercing of the Avenue de Beaulieu in 1912 transformed Chauderon in a public transport hub already at the time. In the same year, the drilling of the Chauderon road tunnel was completed. In 1977 a bus shelter was built and has been transformed in 1998 to give birth to the one that exists today. Moreover, today we have 3 times more buses stopping in Chauderon than in Lausanne station (see Fig.2).

  1. Methodology

In order to collect the necessary data regarding the linguistic landscape in Chauderon, we took several pictures of shop signs, windows and other signs such as graffiti. We paid special attention to shop windows where other languages besides French were on display. Concerning the cameras used to photograph the signs, we simply used the ones on our smartphones. We were very optimistic with the amount of ethnic businesses in just this neighborhood, we soon realized though that some of these are known to be ethnic business not by the writing on their windows – that sometimes is only in the French language – but by the tongue spoken inside among the costumers and the workers.

Once we gathered the pictures we needed, we classified them on a table (table 1) and established some categories of analysis, which would allow us to understand the purpose the languages were used on the different windows. While doing this we decided to focus exclusively on shops instead of taking into consideration every mark of multilingualism we could find.

The main goal of this research is to understand the use of foreign idioms as informational tools for the people who pass by, therefore, we chose a set of appropriate categories in order to classify and compare the signs. These categories are: “Type of sign”, “Main language”, “Secondary language(s)”, Indexical or Symbolic for both main and secondary languages, “Monologic/ Dialogic” and finally “Top-down/Bottom-up”.

  1. Results

As shown in Table 1 French is very often displayed on the signs, either as main or secondary language, as it is Lausanne’s official language. The only exception to this is Mighty Games, which implies that the clientele knows that the name is not an indicator of the language that is spoken inside the store, as English is often associated with board games.

Concerning the appearance of English, although it appears as the main language in five different shops, only Books Books Books is owned by actual English-speaking people and sells products for English speaking people specifically. Businesses such as Mighty Games, McDonald’s and Scope use English purely symbolically, meaning this language has the cultural value of often being associated to gaming, fast-food and music. Nevertheless, other places using a foreign language as the main one for their signs, for instance Pena Hispanica (the ~ is not omited here maybe because it does not exist in French) and Doushka are actually owned respectively by a Spanish and Russian person. Aside from English, Italian is the only other language that appears as symbolic, in La Nonna’s menu, that has a French translation for every plate and as explained previously, Italian is more often associated with cuisine than with the people who own the restaurant.

According to table 1, French often appears in a Top-down position, which again is due to the fact that it is Lausanne’s official language. Nevertheless, this is not the case in Milano’s Pizza shop window, where it appears as less important than English. French also appears as less important that Arabic in El Baraka’s shop window, meaning that the costumers are probably Arabic speakers themselves. Aside from this, in most cases, foreign languages are Bottom-up.

We can also notice that in the cases of Chez Manu and Mighty Games, the secondary languages are only perceivable by hear, instead of written signs, which could be argued as not being part of the linguistic landscape.


Shop Main language Secondary Main language


Secondary language(s)


Books books books (fig.3) English French Indexical Bottom-up
Chez Manu (fig.4) French Portuguese (Soundscape) Top-down
Doushka (fig.5) Russian French Indexical Bottom-up
El Baraka (fig.6) French Arabic Indexical Bottom-up
La Mise en Bière (fig.7) French English Symbolic Top-down
La Nonna (fig.8) French Italian Symbolic Top-down
Mighty Games (fig. 9) English French (Soundscape) Symbolic Top-down
Milano’s Pizza (fig.10) English &



Symbolic (English) Top-down/Bottom-up
McDonald’s (fig. 11) English French Symbolic Bottom-up
Pena Hispanica (fig. 12) Spanish French Indexical Bottom-up
Score (fig. 13) English French Symbolic Bottom-up

Table 1



  1. Discussion

The data from table 1 shows us that French is present in the Linguistic Landscape regardless of it being the main or second language. This information means that none of the businesses, even the ethnic ones such as El Baraka or Pena Hispanica aim to exclusively attract foreign clients, or clients who speak the languages displayed. However, Books Books Books’ window (fig. 3) has a French written sign about the parking spots in front of the shop. This sign does not have the goal of attracting French-speaking clients. In this case, French is used in order to accommodate people passing by, so they can understand.

Although English appears in six out of the eleven signs, it only appears as indexical of actual English-speaking owners once, meaning it is mostly used as a trend. Moreover, in the case of Mighty Games (fig.9), despite the fact that it is the sign’s main languages, the workers and clients never communicate in English. This choice of language might be because English is often linked with the universe of games.

English also appears as purely symbolic in the cases of Score and McDonald’s because English is not actually spoken inside of any of these places and their owners are French-speakers. However, Mcdonald’s is indeed an American Fast Food chain. In this case, McDonald’s is attracting clients simply because it is a well-known brand and not because it wants to follow a trend. This could also be argued for La Mise en Bièse (fig.7) were some of the beers displayed on the window featuring text in English are actually imported English or American beers, even though the shop has a name written in French.

Nonetheless, Spanish and Russian are chosen with the intention of attracting Spanish and Russian people, but also of giving an impression of authenticity to perhaps clients who are not Spanish nor Russian. By naming themselves in a foreign language in this situation, these businesses are not symbolizing something from popular culture, unlike the restaurant La Nonna that is an Italian food restaurant therefore the menu is in both French and Italian. However clients only assume that this places serves a certain kind of food and not necessarily assume that the owners are Italian.

Doushka is not written in Cyrillic script, which makes it readable for non-Russian speakers. Although they cannot know the meaning of this word, they can also read the information in French underneath (fig. 5). The translation of Russian into French shows that French speakers not only are welcome but that they will also be able to communicate in French inside.

Finally, in both Mighty Games and Chez Manu (fig.4), the languages displayed are not the languages mainly spoken. For instance, most of the clients and all working staff at Chez Manu are Portuguese. Nevertheless, the blackboard outside is fully written in French and it is impossible to guess that it is a Portuguese Bakery from its name. This demonstrates that there are, in fact, some limits to the conventional definition of the Linguistic Landscape, which could be barriers to the understanding of the different uses of language in Chauderon.


  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, we can say that English and Italian is generally more used as a way to attract clients than as sign of an English-speaking or Italian-speaking shop. Whereas Spanish, Russian and Arabic is more attractive to people that, share those same origins or languages. Even though they target a more specific clientele, they do not seclude themselves. Evidence to this is that they mainly use Latin script on their store window and not Cyrillic or Arabic.
This study can be more representative of the neighborhood if we address its limitations. The first limitation we can see is that we focused only on 11 different establishments, which in the end does not embody the entirety of Chauderon. In addition, defining a linguistic landscape can be hard if we only look at shop signs. It does not help us know which of the languages is the one that is the most relevant to it’s given landscape. This can be seen in two of our examples were clients and owners don’t speak the main language that is displayed on their front door. Another drawback we encountered was the fact that we tried to get as much information as possible, but our study depends on data that people were willing to give us. We noticed that some of the shops were not quite honest with us about the language they speak backstage and with the clientele. Leading to a point where we felt that we could not trust the information that was given to us. This problem could be addressed by observing and by gaining the trust of the people working there, through ethnographic fieldwork. Another limitation of our paper resides in the fact that backstage information was lacking in some establishments for example the owner’s nationality, origin and main language(s). As a future direction, we could extend our study to look at the role of multilingualism in multi-national and national chains present in the neighborhood and contrast it more strongly with the ethnic businesses as we noticed with McDonald’s and the fact that its American name has value simply as a brand and not a trend.



  1. Landry, R. & Bourhis, R (1997), “Linguistic Landscape and Ethnolinguistic Vitality, An Empirical Study”, Journal of Language and Social Psychology 16(1):23-49.
  2. Wang, J. (2013), “Linguistic Landscape of China: A Case Study of Shop Signs in Beijing”, Studies in Literature and Language, 6, No. 1, 2013, pp. 40-47
  3. Nikolau, A. (2017) , “Mapping the linguistic landscape of Athens: the case of shop signs”, International Journal of Multilingualism, 14:2, 160-182, DOI:, p.24
  4. Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (2003). Discourses in place: Language in the material world. London: Routledge.


Official statistics of the districts of the city of Lausanne. Available on : Accessed 27 December 2018

Official statistics of the districts of the city of Lausanne. Available on : Accessed 27 December 2018

Tunnel de Chauderon. Created by RTS, 27.04.1964. Available on : Accessed 27 December 2018

Bazzanella, Sylvie. “Place et pont Chauderon ”. Available on : Accessed 27 December 2018



Figure 3 Books Books Books

Figure 4 Chez Manu

Figure 5 Doushka

Figure 6 El Baraka

Figure 7 La Mise en Bière

Figure 8 La Nonna

Figure 9 Mighty Games

Figure 10 Milano’s Pizza

Figure 11 McCafé

Figure 12 Pena Hispanica

Figure 13 Score

Linguistic mixity in event advertisements: The case of the University of Lausanne

Authors: Ruxanda Cornescu and Caroline Voisin


This paper investigates the role of English in bilingual French-English events advertisements in the campus of the University of Lausanne. The campus is regarded as international because of its many foreign students, which makes the use of bilingual advertisements interesting for us to conduct a linguistic landscape research. Our research questions were: 1. How is English used in events advertisements in the University of Lausanne 2. How the type of event advertised influences the French-English relationship, The University of Lausanne being at the same time a French-speaking University, and an international University. We found that English occupied an important position in the different types of events adverts, having different functions: either used as a complement to French because of its modern and ‘trendy’ status, or to give information to foreign people willing to attend events such as conferences.

  1. Introduction

The city of Lausanne, located in the French-speaking canton of Vaud, Switzerland, home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is quite an international city. And it is not surprise that its University, located at the shores of Lake Geneva, has the reputation to be a place where around 120 different nationalities meet. Indeed, if the school is attended by about 14’900 students, 23% of them are international students, coming mostly from European countries (France, Italy, UE countries), but also from America (both North and South) Africa and Asia (UNIL website, 2017). This diversity results in a cohabitation of different cultures, that constantly come in contact in the University’s campus. Associations, sports clubs and events in the campus lead to a contact of the different cultures, as exchange students are usually interacting with Swiss/local students. Moreover, the different associations represent differences of culture: it is the case, for example, of the associations representing Muslim students, Christian students, Tessin students, or for the rights of people in exile. All in all, a hundred associations exist and, among them, several focus mainly on event organisations. Regarding the international construction of the University of Lausanne, we decided to look at the use of English in the advertising of events taking place within the campus, including conferences and concerts, among others. By means of linguistic landscaping, we aim to see how English is used in advertising events in the University context, and how it interacts with French, English being used as the language of international communication. (Piller: 2006) The signs we collected pictures of are from various sources, with different types of events advertised. This paper will thus try to answer the following research questions: how is English used in event advertisements in the UNIL campus? What is its role alongside French depending on the type of event?

This paper will first introduce the subject of English in bilingual advertising, with regard to previous researches on the use of English in (bilingual and non-bilingual) advertisements, before providing information on the chosen area of study. Next, we will give details on our methodology of linguistic landscaping to conduct our research, and finish by presenting our results and discussing them in connection to the previous studies on the subject. Lastly, a conclusion will close our paper.

  1. Theoretical framework

Advertising discourse is regarded as a well-known subject among the applied linguistics field, whereas language contact has partly missed out from the researches’ front stage (Piller, 2003, page 170). According to the author, advertising is a site of language contact that needs to be explored, especially the role of English: indeed, it differs between English-speaking markets and non-English-speaking markets (Piller, 2003, page 4). English is a popular advertising technique, in the way that the globalization of English happened in multilingual fields, because it had become a marketing strategy for advertisement around the globe (Kuppens, 2009). Therefore, it explains why English might be a logical choice as a larger marketing strategy. Moreover, the author argues that another reason for the choice of English in advertisement is due to “creative-linguistics reasons”, as well as “cultural connotations” (Kuppens, 2009, page 116) Indeed, English is often used to replace foreign words with equivalents, either because it fits better or because it draws the reader’s attention more easily (Kuppens, 2009, page 116). It seems then that, more than being the dominant language around the world, English also has quite a mode-ish usage (meaning it is stylish), as mass medias helped spread American culture around the world, especially in Europe. In both Piller’s and Kuppens’ work, English is connected to several social stereotypes: modernity, youth, cosmopolitanism, internationality. Moreover, regarding the media, Kuppens adds that English is used in advertisements because it is the language of genres that are part of global mass (consumer) culture (Kuppens, 2009, page 131). In that sense, English is regarded to be a ‘transparent language’ that belongs to (and is reachable by) everyone. Altogether, those qualities explain why English is often used in bilingual/multilingual advertisements around the world.

The bilingual French-English audience draws a lot of new challenges to the advertising companies: how to draw the attention of a local audience with an international language? “When individuals direct their attention to the code-switched word, they will activate the language schema to which that word belongs and become aware of the social meaning carried by the language” (Luna et al, 2005, page 161). According to the authors, code-switched messages is a strategy to influence bilingual individuals, including customers, which brings us to the importance of code-switching in advertisement. Indeed, some words are activated on purpose, as English words symbolize modernity, and even a trend. Horniks  (Horniks et al, 2010) conducted a study in the Netherlands on that base, arguing that little is known about people’s preference for English over the local language By investigating how the level of difficulty of English on adverts broadcast in the Netherlands impacted on the local population’s understanding of the ads, the authors came to the conclusion that a foreign language does not necessarily need to be understood: what really matters is that such language represents a symbol. Therefore, the understanding of the foreign language (in that case, English) does not matter, but the appreciation increases the public understanding, and consists in a way of persuading the audience. On that matter, a group of Spanish linguists draws our attention on the fact that texts are organizing the discourse, can engage the audience and signal the writer’s attitude: in that way, language is used to achieve specific purposes (Fuertes-Oliveira et al, 2001). Print advertising therefore is one domain where the orientation toward the reader is crucial. That way, and even in our data, it is important to remember that English words are there for a reason, and therefore it is important to analyse them closely. Unfortunately, we were not able to find precise researches on events advertising, probably because it is a quite recent field, therefore not yet completely in linguistic researchers’ interests.

  1. Contextualisation

The city of Lausanne, capital and biggest city of the canton of Vaud, is located by the lake of Geneva, natural border with France. Lausanne, by hosting the International Olympic Committee, just became the focus of international sports, bringing the title of “Olympic Capital” to the city’s prestige. In addition, the headquarters of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and around fifty international sports associations. All those institutions are attracting an international audience and foreign tourists to Lausanne, making English a common language heard in the city, as well as the current lingua franca (Durham, 2016)

The University of Lausanne was created in 1507, as a theological protestant school, the only French-speaking of its type, thus well-known both locally and internationally. The teachings provided by the school started diversifying, until reaching the status of University in 1890. In 1909, R.A. Reiss created the first school of forensic science in the world, ranked number two nowadays, behind FSU in Florida, USA. Around 1970, the University moved from the old city of Lausanne (near the cathedral and castle) to its current location, Dorigny. This is relevant because the prestige of some faculties, such as the Criminology School mentioned above, contributed in attracting more foreign students (UNIL website, 2017). Indeed, the University not only has 1/5 foreign students among its ranks, but also has 1/3 of teachers that comes from diverse countries, which denotes of the international atmosphere that the University itself likes to bring up as a sign of prestige and validation (UNIL website, 2017). The students attending campus are from various social and ethnical backgrounds, therefore it is impossible to establish regular patterns. More recently, the University has partnered with EPFL, also a world-class and internationally-known school, to form two big campuses next to each other, attracting even more foreign students. Also, new faculties were created, mostly concerning the Human and the Living (biology and medicine), attracting even more students to come and study in Lausanne. The students are forming a community in the University, mixing cultures and languages – putting English forward as a mean of communication between foreign students and locals, just as locals do when they don’t come from the same language part from Switzerland (Durham, 2016)

  1. Methodology

During the month of October 2018, we started paying attention to event advertisements displayed around campus, in the different buildings. Having our courses mainly in Géopolis and Anthropole, we essentially collected most of our data in those two buildings, later mixing up data from Internef, Amphimax/Amphipôle, and from the campus’ library (the ‘Banana’). We collected a total of fifteen pictures, focusing on signs advertising events only, with English and another language on them (all multilingual then). The events mostly were cultural, and concerned extra-scholar matters, such as concerts or parties, but they also were scholarly events, such as conferences. Therefore, the events advertised were top-down, as an association or institution were organizing it, and that the students (and sometimes teachers) were the targeted audience. We collected the data within two weeks, each on our own, before coming together in order to compare what we had collected. It appeared to us that our data were quite similar – even though the pictures were never identical – and that most of them were a mix of French and English. From that point on, we decided to focus on ads that had those two languages on them. Finally, we reduced the pictures collected to a set of 10 pictures to analyse, according to a criterion of relevance.

Both of us were very familiar with the field chosen – being both students at the University of Lausanne, with Social Sciences and English cursus – which means it was not difficult for us to collect the pictures. Furthermore, being familiar with the events taking place on campus – especially parties and conferences – we had come across similar types of ad, therefore the idea of working on that kind of advertising was almost evident. When we started collecting the data, we expected to find more types of languages in the advertisement ads, but we mostly came across French-English advertisements – the rest were in Italian (because it targeted Tessin students) or other languages less commonly spoken in the University of Lausanne, such as Japanese for instance. Consequently, we focused on the ads containing both French and English – which were not hard to find. What was trickier, on the other hand, was to choose the signs we wanted to analyse and reduce the data to 10 pictures.

  1. Results

In order to conduct our research on the use of English on events advertisements in the University of Lausanne, we took a total of ten pictures in the area of UNIL, represented by the grey pins (illustration 1). Out of the ten observed signs, all of them were bilingual English and French. Furthermore, as all of the signs were advertisements, they were all commercial. They were all commercial and produced bottom-up from different groups belonging to UNIL; however they were not all for profit. We were able to find different types of events being advertised such as concerts, conferences, exhibitions, a party or movie screening. Some events

Illustration 1

After analysing all of our data, as the advertisements contain only French and English, we decided to divide them in two groups: the leisure versus the academic events because the public that is being addressed will differ in the two groups.

We found that English is always present in the titles of the leisure events such as concerts, movie screening or parties because the addressee differs from the academic events, mostly targeting younger people: to do so, using creative techniques or taking advantage of English connotations are two strategies used to draw the addressees’ attention, these will be seen more in details when analysing the different advertisements. English’s role can be seen as more ‘persuasive’, using strategies to draw attention on the advertisement: this is the symbolic function of English. On the other hand, concerning the more intellectual events, English was not used in to ‘’attract’, but’ more to set the target people who could be interested in them, there is a more informative/practical use of English. Furthermore, we found that English and French coexistence differs whether it is on an entertaining or academic ad. There is a tendency of English being used as a primary language on the leisure advertisements and on the contrary French is being used primarily on the academic ones.

 We will start by analysing the leisure events advertised in our data and try and give a first approach to the techniques used to persuade the public:

Picture 1.

In this advertisement English is the Primary language for several reasons; first of all the party is organised by the HEC committee and the advertisement was found in Internef, which is known for its  international students (both in HEC and Law faculties) and usual use of English, as the HEC students have  most of their courses in English, being quite a cosmopolite population (it is a world famous Business school, so there are many international students). There is here an intergeneric intertextual intent, ‘’the meaning and/or humour of these ads can only be understood and appreciated if viewers are familiar with what the text is referring to’’ (Kuppens, 2009). In that case, the reference is to Disney’s 13, which makes sense given to the fact that the ad advertises a Halloween party. The HEC also chose English instead of French because of its connotations (fun, young, cosmopolitan), so the prestige of the language is taken advantage of here as well. Furthermore, the fact that Disney is a well-known company of very famous child movies (such as the Lion King for instance) allow the readers of the advert to recognize a shared knowledge, and their attention being caught by a centre of interest; there is here a link between English and American cultural references (Kuppens, 2009)

Picture 2.

This ad is also multilingual, with English as its primary language. It is an advertisement for a concert that will take place at Zelig, in the Géopolis building – Zelig being the University’s bar, more specifically of the SSP faculty (Psychology, Social Sciences, Political Sciences and Sports. Géopolis is known for its international public but it is still nonetheless part of a French-speaking university. The concert is organized by STOICA, which is an Italian student association. The reason why English is used is because of the fact that more people understand English than Italian, and they would not want their party to be attended only by Italian-speaking students but extend their potential public to all students. Therefore, the use of English as well as French allows them to attract a wider public and serve here as a lingua-franca. This can explain the domination of English on other languages (i.e. Italian), with an exception for the French ‘’à’’ to indicate where the concert will take place which can be because of the French speaking University and the existing debate between the uses of ‘’à’’ or ‘’au Zelig’’ to say ‘’At Zelig’’. In this case, they seem to indicate their position in the debate which adds a touch of irony to the advertising. This nudge to the debate also serves as a technique to engage exchange with the addressee who will understand what the advert is alluding to. The English ‘’Live Music’’ as part of its title can be creative, as it is more attractive than the French ‘’musique en direct’’, sounding more modern and more representative of the young public. The prestige use resides in English’s connotations of modernity and youth as Zelig’s main customers are for the most part students, and sometimes alumni or even teachers. There can be a last observation made with picture 3, even if the whole advertisement is mostly in  English, for advertising purposes, consumers do not even need to  understand the foreign language that is used to appreciate it, however the appreciation increases when they fully understand the content; in our case, if the person does not speak English, he/she can easily understand as ‘’live’’ is already a common word in French, music is very similar and Zelig is known by people at UNIL.


Picture 3.                                                            Picture 4.

The English title in the Picture 4 can be explained by the fact that English is used in a creative manner: English can be used when a word is better suited than the local language version of it because it is more attractive (Kuppens, 2009). Here it is the case for the ‘’Jam’’, a common word (both in French and English) meaning a music playing session. The concert takes place in the ‘’Banane’’, UNIL’s library. If they were to associate the French word ‘’banane’’, it would not have been understandable that jam was English, thus there is a word invention ‘’Bananajam’’, a common practice aiming to place nonsensical words that sound English to activate certain values with the consumers (Kuppens, 2009). Concerning Picture 3, the title is the name of the movie that will be screened; it is a Canadian movie and will be in its original version, English. This screening is organized by the English department of UNIL and supported by the embassy of Canada; all of these facts can serve to explain why the primary language is English on this advertisement. However, there is a translation of every line in French; even though the movie is in English it will be subtitled in French so people who cannot speak English can still attend the event: this explains the French presence on the advertisement. Another explanation can be that UNIL is a French-speaking University so there is a will to make everyone understand the ad. After analysing the leisure events, we found that English was put forward for practical matters (place, time, price of the events) but also for its prestige, symbolic values and creativity techniques because the public targeted was a younger one.

Concerning the more academic events, we also found some advertisements that were all multilingual; We will start by analysing the use of English in them:


Picture 5.                                                Picture 6.


Picture 7.                                                Picture 8.

When analysing these 4 advertisements, we can see that Picture 6 is a photography exhibition: both English and French are present on the ad in order to attract a larger public possible since the event is based on observing photographs. Pictures 5, 7 and 8 are all conferences. On picture 5, there is an image with an English message. This ad references a conference to be given by a guest professor from the University of Glasgow (English-speaking), therefore it seems that the image containing the quote ‘’ Every generation needs a new revolution’’ on the ad is meant to reference his origins. Furthermore, the quote is from Thomas Jefferson, also native English speaker, so it is edited in the original version, probably to keep up a sort of authenticity. On Picture 7, the primary language is French because it is in UNIL, which is a French speaking university. Only the title is translated in English because it will attract a bigger public to this seminar which will be both in French and English. In Picture 8 the primary is English because it is the language of the main title and it is the first thing seen by people. This can be explained by the fact that it is mentioned that it is an international conference that will be given in French and English. By putting an English title, it will attract the attention of a larger public, the addressee here is a well educated person interested in antiquity topics.


Picture 9.                                                       Picture 10.

Both events are multilingual with English as their primary language. English on picture 9 can be explained by the fact that the conference will be in English; the reason is that it is organized by the ”European Law students’’ association” which reunites students from many languages and English here serves as the communication language between many nations (Lingua Franca). It is important to notice that this event will be held in the Internef building, where the (reputed) Law school of UNIL is. In French we can find more practical information, such as, for example, the participating teachers. Picture 10 is an advert for a conference that will be given in English which can explain that we find mainly English on the advert, however the word ‘’conférence’’ and practical information is given in French. We can therefore see here that English is used in order to target more people who could understand it and practical matters are written in French due to the French speaking nature of the University and its French-speaking region.

  1. Discussion

As previous researches have shown (Piller, 2003; Kuppens, 2009; Horniks et al., 2010 ; Martin, 1998), English is widely used for advertising in areas that are not English-speaking, and this was true for UNIL as well. English was used in all our events, but it depends on the type of event (leisure or academic) its use varied.  As Hornikx argues, ‘’comprehension of English does not matter, a foreign language is considered as a symbol for which the understanding does not matter but the appreciation increases when the public understands’’ (Horniks et al.., 2010). The entertaining group of advertisements tend to use English with a persuasive, commercial approach as they use it for its connotations (youth, fun, international, cosmopolitan), as put forth by Kuppens, ‘’As per the connotations of the English language, Indeed, several studies report that for advertising purposes, consumers need not even understand the foreign language that is used, as long as they recognize the connotations that it is associated with’’ (Kuppens, 2009). There are also different creative techniques to persuade the targeted public as put forward by Kuppens ‘’Some other noticed practices are to even use ‘invented’ or ‘nonsensical’ English in advertisements, i.e. meaningless words or sentences that only sound English—and can thus activate certain values with the consumers.’’ (Kuppens, 2009). The last usage of English in a creative way as seen in Kuppens’ study is to refer to another text or to an idea in order to create an exchange with the consumer ‘’intra or intergeneric intertextual intent, the meaning and/or humour of these ads can only be understood and appreciated if viewers are familiar with what the text is referring to. (Kuppens, 2009). These techniques can be seen in the HEC advert or the Zelig concert for example.  As per the more academic events advertisements, the use of English is more informative and practical as it consists in translations and practical information in order to attract (with no use of any creative technique) people who could understand the content of the event (all of the intellectual events are partly in English). The fact that there is no creative use of English could be because they target an older public as language play is associated with youth. This answers the first part of our research question which is how English is used in event advertisements at UNIL. For the second part of our research question regarding the coexistence of both English and French on the advertisements we also found differences depending on the type of event that was advertised. Regarding the entertaining type of adverts, English was the primary language on most of them and French was used for more practical information which can be explained by the fact that UNIL is a French-speaking university and in a Francophone region. This observation is also explained by the fact that English is used in a symbolic way, to attract people’s attention thus making French secondary. Concerning the more intellectual types of events, we can observe the contrary; French tends to be the primary language on most of them and English serves as translation; we can see here that there is no advertising strategy behind the use of English because of the age of the targeted public which tends to be higher in this case. It can also be explained by the fact that all of these events are part English, there is the will to attract both people that understand French or English but putting French forward because of the University’s main language. A last observation can be made on our events advertisements which is that English was used as a primary language in 100% of the ads that were advertised by an international organization which in a way confirms the international connotation of English that is fun, young, cosmopolitan etc…

  1. Conclusion

This study has several limitations, one of them being the lack of information of the addressee’s perception of these advertisements. We have evidence in our theoretical framework that English is used in many ads all over the world and the understanding of it does not matter in order to have an impact on the consumer. It would have been useful for our study to interview different people and see how they viewed the advertisements for example or to have some perception data in order to measure which of the two types has more impact depending on the age of the addressee since we noticed that the entertaining ones are targeting younger people and vice versa. Furthermore, we decided to only focus on English-French events adverts but it would have been very interesting to analyse advertisements that contained other languages as well and try to understand the reasons behind such practices as well as maybe analysing other types of adverts than events. It could thus be of interest for future research to see if and how other foreign languages are used in UNIL events advertisements as well other ones as sales at the local book shop or travel agency for example. Nonetheless, our study showed that English was used in a variety of different advertisements and that it varied on the type of public that it targeted. As put forth by Horniks et al., “English serves as the lingua-franca especially in countries like Switzerland where we have a complex multi-lingual landscape.” (Horniks et al., 2010), which is truly visible in UNIL where the English language is very present in the public space in a variety of ways and as we have noticed it in our case, events advertisements. While some of our multilingual ads used English for creative matters, other ads used it for more practical reasons as the place, time of the event etc… Thus, even in our small-scale study we could nonetheless observe the multi-functionality of the English language in this otherwise Francophone university.


Durham, M. (2016). English as a lingua Franca: forms and features in a Swiss context. Cahiers de l’Institut de Linguistique et des Sciences du Language, 48, 107-118.

Fuertes-Oliveira, P. Velasco-Sacristan, M. Arribas-Bano, A. Samaniego-Fernandez, E. (2001). Persuasion and advertising English: Metadiscourse in slogans and headlines. Journal of Pragmatics, 33, 1291-1307.

Horniks, J. van Meurs, F. de Boer, A. (2010). English of a Local Language in advertising? The Appreciation of Easy and Difficult English Slogans in the Netherlands. Journal of Business Communication, 47(2), 169-188.

Kuppens, H. (2009). English in Advertising: Generic Intertextuality in a Globalizing Media Environment. Applied Linguistics, 31(1), 115-135.

Luna, D. Peracchio, L. (2005). Advertising to Bilingual Consumers: The Impact of Code-Switching on Persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 760-765.

Martin, E. (1998). The use of English in written French advertising: a study of code-switching, code-mixing and borrowing in a commercial context. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences,  28(1), 159-184.

Martin, E. (2002). Mixing English in French advertising. World Englishes, 21(3), 375-402.

Piller, I. (2001). Identity constructions in multilingual advertising. Language in Society, 30, 153-186.

Piller, I. (2003). Advertising as a Site of Language Contact. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 23, 170-183.


Official Website of the University of Lausanne. Available on: Accessed on the 15.12.2018.

Official Website of the City of Lausanne. Available on: Accessed on the 16.12.2018.

Official Website of EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Available on: Accessed on the 16.12.2018.






The Use of English as a Lingua Franca: A Case Study of Commercial Signs in Flon

Arlinda Ramqaj & Sophie Künzi


The aim of this paper is to focus on the use of English as a lingua franca in Flon (Lausanne, Switzerland) in order to highlight the values and purposes given to the English language. Through the observation of commercial signs present on window displays and semi-directed interviews with sellers, we analyse how English and French interplay. Our hypothesis is that sellers decided to settle their establishment in Flon because it is a commercial and cultural centre. Thus, it justifies the use of English in the shop names. English therefore would have a commercial value. Another hypothesis is that the English brand names were associated to sellers that speak this language. After the analysis of our data, our hypotheses were disproved. Most of the sellers do not speak English or just enough to be understood. The value given to English is commercial but the aim of their English logo is not to attract foreign customers. This “paradox” can be partly explained through the fact that French translation of the concepts of the store are not possible.


Lausanne is one of the most diverse cities in Romandie. Since it acquired the label of Olympic city, it has become an important cultural centre. Composed by different neighbourhoods, we decided to focus on the neighbourhood of Flon: one of the most well-known neighbourhoods in the heart of the city. One of the many languages used in this region is English, which is no surprise since it is a global language or more commonly designated by lingua franca (Kaur 2013; 214). The aim of this paper is to focus on the use of English as a lingua franca in this neighbourhood through observation of window displays and brand logos, in order to highlight the values and purposes given to the English language. This research project aims to see the connection between the use of English on branding or logos and the owners of those shops. This study would fill in the lack of research done in this region. Data collection in this study consists of taking pictures of different English commercial signs throughout the Flon and interviewing the owners or employees of those shops or restaurants. From a sociolinguistic point of view, we analysed our data with a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach which enables us to highlight in detail the interconnexion between English and Flon. This study will introduce a theoretical framework in section 2 based on the examination of other works that studied commercial signage, linguistic diversity in a neighbourhood and English as a global language. In sections 3 and 4, we will provide information about the area chosen and the methodology that we used. In the last sections, 5 and 6, we will provide the results, their analysis and their discussion. Section 7 will conclude our study.

2. Theoretical framework

According to Mooney and Evans, the world is surrounded by “semiotic material”. Linguistic landscapes are defined as “the attention to the use of languages and other meaningful objects in the construction of space” (Mooney and Evans 2015: 87). These signs are useful in order to understand the social construction of space in which multilingualism occurs. Moreover, the researchers assert that there are two different types of signs, top-down and bottom up (89).  Those signs need a thorough examination when considering their emplacement (90). “Considering multilingualism in LL can also tell us about the languages used by inhabitants of those spaces and whether this “matches up” with the official languages” (97). This paper helped us define our subject, it oriented us towards the analysis of commercial signs and it also sets our first hypothesis that the commercial situation of Flon plays a role in the use of English in this region. English is therefore considered as a global language.

Many attributes were given to English. According to Piller, English has been established as a language of authority, he explains that “everyone wants to be perceived as a global player, and such perception is best achieved by using English” (Piller 2001: 161). The question of English as a global language is explored by Crystal, who states that “language achieves genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country” (Crystal 2003: 3). Furthermore, the extension of English as a lingua franca helps solve problems of communication within people of different backgrounds (Lüdi 2001: 57). For Görgülü, English is explored as being a strategic tool in order to attract people and also for its “trendiness”. For us, these aspects of English set the beginning of our understanding of its complex role. Therefore, we wanted to explore the use of English in the light of these elements and especially the use of English as a global language.  We also consider a term used by Görgülü in her study, which is the “Englishization” of signs (Görgülü 2018: 139).

In Lausanne’s context, there is a lack of research in the field of commercial signage. Additionally, only a few studies examine the use of languages in Switzerland’s commercial signage. One of them investigates the use of multilingualism in hair salon names, especially focusing on the use of the official national languages and a fifth language, English (Paviour-Smith 2016: 231). English is in this study considered as a global language or more commonly designated by lingua franca. “English as a lingua franca is nothing more than a useful tool: it is a “language for communication”. And because of the variety of functional uses of global English, English has also a great potential for promoting international understanding.” (House 2001). This viewpoint is shared throughout Switzerland. Swiss people use English as a way to understanding each other at the expense of national languages.

An additional hypothesis was formulated on the basis of those studies. Since no studies on multilingualism have been done in Lausanne yet, it opened our research field. Given the use of English as a lingua franca across the globe and in different countries or cities, we suggest that English is also used as a global language in Switzerland and especially in Lausanne. In Switzerland, multilingualism is defined by the territoriality principle, the four national languages are defined by geographical and political boundaries (Stotz 2006: 249). Nonetheless, the territoriality principle is not as concise and delimited as it is supposed to be. Indeed, languages in Switzerland overlap even if in some places the dominance of one specific language is possible. What interests us in the context of this study is the presence of English as an almost “fifth language of the country” (Stotz 2006: 249).

3. Contextualization

Before 1950, Flon was an industrial region, constituted by warehouses. Afterwards, Flon is linked to the city of Lausanne and becomes an “original, creative and alternative neighbourhood” (Brève histoire du Flon, n.d.).Situated in the centre of Lausanne, the Flon is a neighbourhood of 55’000 m2,mostly pedestrian. It is served by public transportation such as buses and the metro, which allows it to be a very accessible district. What was historically an industrial place is today a centre of activities and a place of interactions. The 28 bars and restaurants in addition to the 61 shops, attract over 7.5 million people per year (A district to experiment, n.d.). The use of English on window displays and brands’ logos is frequent as it allows to attract potential business opportunities. Moreover, the different activities like cinema, bowling and nightclubs contribute to give a trendy and lively reputation to the neighbourhood. Finally, the Flon and its architectural style, combining modern and vintage, is a welcoming place for visitors from all over the world.

4. Methodology

The first step in the process of collecting data was to choose a subject and a region to study. We quickly agreed on the exploration of the neighbourhood of Flon, for its easy access and its interesting placement near the commuting accommodations. As Flon is a commercial neighbourhood, we decided to focus on commercial signs. The data corpus is mainly composed of window displays and brands’ logos. We went there a first time in order to take pictures of commercial signs present in this neighbourhood in at least two different languages. Later on, we came back and took more pictures and decided to extend our data collection to semi-directed interviews with owners or employees of a selection of commercial centres either restaurants or shops. Semi-directed interviews were chosen because they offer a clear and direct response to a set of questions asked, and also, the respondents could speak more widely and answer in more detail. We formulated the following questions with the intention to ask more general aspects about the use of languages by the sellers and gradually asking them specific questions about the use of English in their signs. The interviews were conducted in French because of our assumption that not all the sellers would speak English and because it is the official language of the canton. Their decision to open a commerce in Flon was a piece of information that we considered important because of the potential commercial opportunities.

  1. Do you speak English?
  2. What languages do you speak?
  3. Why did you choose to have your logo/sign written in English?
  4. Why did you choose to open a shop/restaurant in this neighbourhood?
  5. What value does English have for you? E.g. commercial, touristic, trendy, international, etc.

The questions above are translations in English of the French questions that we originally asked. The transcription of the answers was done via paper-pen. Afterwards the answers were rewritten  in a Word file.

Finally, we selected a corpus of data composed by pictures from 9 shops and 3 restaurants. The criteria of selection have been the presence of English in brand names. It also considers the sellers’ responses to the 5 preceding questions. Among the 12 sellers interviewed, 5 of them speak English and define their level as a B2-C1. This level was acquired in high school. 2 of them are fluent and 3 sellers do not speak English. Referring to the second question, 10 sellers are multilingual and speak at least 2 languages (German and French most frequently). The selection of data was done according to brand logos that used the English language. All the data collected has received approbation to be used by the sellers. They were informed about the study we conducted and the scientific purposes of the collected data. The discussions lasted 10 minutes on average and were conducted in their shops/restaurants the 19thof December 2018.

Taking pictures was the easiest part. When interviewing the sellers, we proceeded as if it was a dialogue. Each researcher asked one question at the time. Rephrasing was sometimes needed for the better understanding of the questions by the sellers but also because they asked us directly to rephrase the questions and be clearer. For example, the question “What value does English have for you?” needed to be rephrase as “In which context is English valued according to you?” or “What is the importance and the meaning of English for you?”. It was difficult to write the given answers while asking questions. Moreover, the device used to collect data was uncomfortable. One of the difficulties we faced was the refusal or the reluctance of some sellers to address our questions especially in restaurants. As a consequence, we had to search for other restaurants/shops which took us more time. Finally, we succeeded in collecting data about our questions and about our initial questioning.

5. Results

For our analysis, twelve pictures were selected out of our data corpus. These signs were produced top-down by the business owners. Out of those 12 commercial signs including the shops’ names and brands, 8 are exclusively in English and 4 in both English and French. However, the schedules on the window display are always written in French as well as prices, e.g. picture 2.

Picture 1: Green Van Company window display (French schedule).

Picture 2: The Next Cut Barber Shop window display (information about prices in French).

Figure 1: Repartition of English and French in Commercial Signs.

The distribution of languages is not equal, 8 signs are monolingual in English (67 %) whereas 4 are bilingual (33 %). Most monolingual window displays are accompanied by images. Picture 1 is a burger restaurant, even if the sign and the information are in English, the client can understand what type of product is sold there, by looking at the images. The same goes for picture 2, even if the client does not understand what is said in the sign, the image of hair makes it clear. For picture 3, there are no images but the written sign “Cosmetics Obsession”, which assumes that the client knows about what it is since these words resemble to French.

Picture 3: Cosmetics Obsession sign.

Picture 4: Pompes Funèbres sign.

Picture 5: Pet-station sign.

In bilingual signs, it is interesting to denote an interlingual wordplay. In picture 4, the owner uses the wordplay of a funeral parlour in French (pompes funèbres) and the use of “pompes” in jargon which means shoes. The presence of a shoe image and the explanation in English below, “the shoe store”, are tools for the customers to understand. The same wordplay can be observed in “Pomp it Up” (cf. Appendix). In picture 5, the owner also used an explanation in French.

According to the interviews we conducted, most of the sellers responded to the first question by saying that they had a level of English that was enough to understand and be understood: “on se débrouille” [we get with it, we do with it] was the main sentence that we came by when asking this question. The Green Van Company owner has a “perfect” English (as reported by himself). Temple Speed shop has very little knowledge of English as well as The Next Cut Barber Shop and Neverland. Among the other languages spoken by the sellers, besides French and English (for some), we find Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Albanian, Turkish, Kurdish, Italian, German and Swiss German. The questions 3 (“Why did you choose to have your logo/sign written in English”) and 5 (“What value does English have for you? E.g. commercial, touristic, trendy, international, etc.”) are linked. The respondents often answered one question by the other and inversely. More specifically, for question 3 people tend to answer that they did not find an equivalent of what they tried to convey in French or another language to use, so they choose to have an English sign. For example, the owner of Pet-station could not find an equivalent in French, he states: “animaux-station is not attractive, and it is longer”, the English version better suits the idea of his shop. When asked about the value of English a majority of 7 respondents give to the English language a commercial value while 3 respondents argue that it has a trendy value. The English language is considered to be international by 4 participants. Only 1 participant thinks that English assumes a touristic value. A majority of 7 sellers use the English language in a trendy way and 2 of them also add commercial purposes. The commercial purposes are mainly coupled with other reasons such as trendiness and a touristic factor.

Table 1: The value of English according to sellers in shops.

Table 2: The value of English according to sellers in restaurants.

The answer to question 4, about the situation and emplacement of the store, was that all the participants agree on the commercial opportunity of being situated in Flon though different aspects: the proximity to public transportation and the number of customers in the street. The proximity with other shops also needs to be considered knowing that 4 shops are family businesses (Table 3).

Table 3: The use of English among window displays in Flon.

Table 4: The use of English among window displays of restaurants in Flon.

6. Discussion

As seen in the previous section, several results emerged from the pictures and the interviews. The aim of this paper is to focus on the use of English as a lingua franca in this neighbourhood through observation of window displays and brand logos, in order to highlight the values and purposes given to the English language in commercial signage. According to the results, the use of English as a lingua franca does have commercial value. Indeed, table 1 shows this purpose. However, in practise and in the conception of the window displays, only 4 of the participants really use it as such (cf. Table 3). It contrasts with the first hypothesis of this research, which considered English to have commercial value and purposes for the conception of shops’ names. After interviewing the twelve participants, it appeared that English was used in a trendy way such as expressing a concept/name, which couldn’t be translated. The use of English here is almost an evidence for the sellers and it can be considered as Englishization (Görgülü 2018; 139). “Foreign elements and English lexical items influence the naming of store signs in the language” (Görgülü 2018: 140). Moreover, the brand names and slogans of those shops are mainly in English and they encapsulate the philosophy of a brand (Piller 2001; 160), e.g. Temple Speed Shop. This is considered by Piller as the proof of English as global lingua franca that everyone is able to understand or speak. But the interview results show that there is a difference between what we see on window displays and what the sellers really think. Many owners did not think about the global aspect of English and did not think of it as a tool to attract tourists. They do not consciously recognise in their speech that English is a global language, but they say that English is everywhere, it surrounds them so it was evident to choose an English branding name.

In addition, the contrast between the use of English on the window display and the actual knowledge of this language by the owners can be drawn. Owners of Neverland and Temple Speed Shop do not speak English. It refutes Piller’s argument about the global usage of this language as to make communication processes easier. In addition, Lüdi’s case study can be reflected through the Flon. Even if the owners do not speak English and that English is used only for commercial purposes or because everyone uses it, the fact that all the schedules and the information are given in French, shows that the English language serves because of its “high visibility” while French is used to “convey the meaning” (Lüdi 2001: 62).
In restaurants’ commercial signs, one interesting aspect is that it reveals the philosophy or the concept of the restaurant which cannot be translated into English. But also, it denotes that those three different restaurants are connected with the North American culture, e.g. Green Van Company with burgers and Plant Smart.  The owners directly explained that this was a concept which found its origin in an English-speaking country or that the concept could not be translated. When considering Wava’s Asian kitchen, it brings to an interesting phenomenon, since Asian restaurants are nowadays present in every country. It is the globalization of the Asian restauration. The owner himself explained that it was obvious to have English for Asian restaurants since it was a global phenomenon. Finally, all the restaurant owners agreed on the fact that their customers are mainly Anglophone clients, even if they do not target this clientele specifically. For example, Wava’s Asian kitchen targets students who will transmit their impression to others, and focus on the “bouche à oreille”. The international food selling in Wava’s Asian kitchen also targets foreigners, whereas, Green Van Company and Plant Smart try to attract local customers.
Finally, shop owners accord little importance to commercial or touristic value to the English language (cf. Table 3). Moreover, restaurant owners think that the English language does not have a commercial use in Flon (cf. Table 4). Therefore, we can see the difference between the two kinds of sellers selected and the similarities: almost every shop and restaurant use the English language as a trendy tool to fit in the fashionable Englishization of the world.

7. Conclusion

The neighbourhood of Flon is full of multilingual aspects to examine. The analysis of data has revealed the dominance of English in commercial signs over other languages, including the official language in the canton.  There are a lot of differences between what we assumed at the beginning of this study and what we discovered. It would not have been possible without interviewing the different sellers. Talking to the sellers allowed us to see more differences and to reveal more dimensions to the use of English in Flon, such as the linguistic landscape and the soundscape. Indeed, as described in our hypothesis, the sellers give to the English language a commercial value but do not explicitly use it for this purpose. Some limitations of our study are that we focused on a corpus of only 12 pictures, which is not representative of the neighbourhood. Our study is not representative of the linguistic landscape present in Flon since we only chose the signs that featured English. Thus, it could be interesting to further investigate the linguistic landscape of Flon by considering all the languages present there. Our study demonstrated that English is used a lingua franca in Flon. It also allowed us to see that there is a difference between what the sellers tell us and what the landscape tells. Therefore, the main value given to this language by the sellers is commercial but its actual use in Flon is most importantly trendy.

8. References

Blommaert, J. Collins, J. Slembrouck, S. 2005. Polycentricity and interactional regimes in “global neighborhoods”Ethnography6(2), 205–235.

Crystal, D. 2003. English as a global language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Görgülü, E. 2018. Foreignization and Englishization in Turkish business naming practices. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies 14. 139-152.

Kaur, P. 2013. Attitudes towards English as a Lingua Franca. Kedah: University Utara Malaysia. 214-221.

Lüdi, G, Höchle, K, Yanaprasart, P. 2001. Pattern of language in polyglossic urban areas and multilingual regions and institutions: A Swiss Case Study. 55-78.incomplete 

Mooney, A. Evans, B. 2015. Linguistic landscapes. In A. Mooney and B. Evans (eds.), Language,Society and Power: an Introduction. London: Routledge. 86-107.

Official website of the city of Lausanne. Available on: Accessed the 20.12.2018.

Official website of the neighbourhood of Flon. Available on: Accessed the 20.12.2018.

Paviour-Smith, Martin. 2016. In S. Knospe, A. Onysko, M. Goth (ed.), Crossing Languages to Play with Words, Section II, Cutting across Linguistic Borders? Interlingual Hair Salon Names in Plurilingual Switzerland: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Berlin: De Gruyter. 231- 257.

Piller, I. 2001. Identity constructions in multilingual advertising. Sydney: University of Sidney. 153-186.

Stotz, D. 2006.Breaching the Peace: Struggles around Multilingualism in Switzerland. Language Policy, 5(3), 247-265.

The Guardian, A Stateless Language that Europe must embrace, Accessed the 23.12.2018.

9. Appendix : Corpus of images

Picture 6: Wava’s Asian Kitchen sign.

Picture 7: Plant Smart – Whole Plant Based Nutrition sign.

Picture 8: Temple Speed Shop – Les Essentiels sign.

Picture 9: Temple Speed Shop products advertising.

Picture 10: Pomp it Up sign.

Picture 11: The Solderie sign.

Picture 12: Eye Food Factory sign.

Picture 13: Eye Food Factory entrance.

Picture 14: Neverland sign.


The Practical Organization of Languages in Multilingual Restoration Businesses on César-Roux Street

The Practical Organization of Languages in Multilingual Restoration Businesses on César-Roux Street

Authors: Yael Bignens and Tim Nguyen



The focus of our research was based on the hierarchisation of languages in multilingual restoration businesses located on Dr César-Roux Street, in Lausanne. Bottom-up signs of three different businesses and interviews with the owners were used in order to conduct our analysis. Based on observation, we noticed that French signs (official language of the area) were used in order to convey essential information towards customers. Through interviews, we could observe that it was also more valued in order to target a wider clientele and due to its expansion in the area. Concerning immigrant languages, their use appears as being a claim for their cultural identity and to introduce new culinary concepts in Switzerland with no specific aim to target an expatriate clientele. English was very little used against our expectations. However, its use aimed to attract tourists and expatriates.


Switzerland has since long been multilingual with its four official languages spoken in respective parts of the country. Furthermore, it received several migration waves, i.e. the Italian and Spanish migration during the Cold War and Yugoslavian migration during the Balkan war, which considerably increased the spectrum of multilingualism. Participation in the economy of the host country led to the emergence of multilingual businesses. The focus of this essay is, by means of short interviews with owners of multilingual restoration businesses in Lausanne and photographs of shop fronts, to investigate the use of multilingualism and the organization of languages in these businesses i.e. the selection of different languages and their aims. As such, this essay provides an analysis of the hierachisation of languages in restaurants with multilingual written signs. Previous studies have already dealt with the subject of hierachisation of languages on the labour market (Duchêne 2011). Although hierachisation of languages was not central to this article, we took it as a starting point for our paper. This essay will focus on the use of multilingualism in restaurants located on César-Roux Street and its use to convey practical information.

This paper is structured as follows: the first section will outline the focus of this essay as developing concepts that have been discussed in previous studies and will be used again in our research. The second section presents the method and data used. The third section displays our results while in the fourth section we will provide an interpretation of these observations.

Theoretical Framework

As claimed by Mooney and Evans, “advertising billboards, posters and handwritten notice […] are all parts of our linguistic landscape” (Mooney and Evans 2015: 87). The top-down signs are to be differentiated from the bottom-up signs in order to “draw a distinction between official and non-official signs”. As such, this difference provides an idea about the producer of the sign. Since “top-down signs” are most of the time produced by authorities such as institutions or the government, they can be described as “official” and are in most cases written in national languages.

As opposed to that, “bottom-up signs” are produced by individuals or smaller group and are therefore more flexible in terms of language choice. Our study investigates the use of multilingualism in restoration businesses located in Dr César-Roux Street. Their signs are produced by their owners and can be described as “bottom-up”. The choice of the use of multiple languages implies a language hierachisation i.e. the value one language has in comparison to other languages following language ideologies (Mooney & Evans, 2015: 87).

The topic of language hierachisation has already been discussed in earlier studies which highlighted the rules of the labour market it followed. Duchêne (2011) shows that the languages that were the most previsible (i.e. the languages the most spoken throughout the customers) appeared to be the most valued in the visible jobs i.e. the jobs that require contact with customers. Being able to fulfil their customers’ needs thanks to the linguistic skills of the employees, the company thus profited from an added value which was not financially supported. As a matter of fact, the company required their employees to master linguistic skills that participate neither in the acquisition, nor to maintain them. As such, the article highlights the relationship of commercial exploitation of their employees’ linguistic skills (Duchêne 2011). In our research, our aim is to find out the planned strategy of language hierachisation chosen by the owners of restoration businesses, by analyzing the choice of different languages to convey different set of information and the way it is displayed in the space.


For the purpose of this study, we decided to focus on Dr César Roux Street, situated in the East-Lausanne neighbourhood of Valon/Béthusy in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland, in which the official language is French. According to the Office d’appui économique et statistique, the inhabitants are for the majority aged from 20 to 39 years old and a large number of the households is constituted of a single person.  By walking within this area which is about 10 minutes walk from the city centre of Lausanne, we realized that the neighbourhood had an important concentration of businesses according to space (including many grocery stores, hairdressing salons, and tattoo salons). This area seems a bit less lively than the city centre as it is located a bit further away. Therefore, this area appears less touristy or at least, the businesses do not appear to serve a high number of tourists. These three multilingual businesses were situated next to each and raised our awareness on the immigrant population rate in Switzerland. It would be interesting to observe specifically the rate of nationalities that correspond to the immigrant language labelled on each shop window that we decided to analyze.According to Lausanne: portrait statistique, the Italian represented 4,6% of the overall population of Lausanne in 2017. However, these statistics did not reveal the rate of the Lebanese and Thai population, as they were listed “other nationalities”. Although nationalities do not reflect the linguistics ability of the speakers, we could use these statistics as a way to globally estimate speakers of non-official languages. Moreover, according to estimations of the “structural survey” of 2016, more than 80% of the population use French as first language.


As first assessment, we created a corpus of ten pictures with a presence of multilingualism in the neighbourhood and uploaded them to a Google map document. It allowed us to realize that the specific street of Dr César-Roux appeared as having a consequent concentration of bilingual businesses. From this corpus, we selected three pictures of restaurants relevant to our study and localized in this street. We based our analysis on them, because in our opinion, they showed diverse linguistic features i.e. presence of non-official languages only or more than one language on the shop windows. However, we realized that our analysis was mostly based on presumptions as we only looked at the outside of these businesses.

We decided therefore to conduct interviews in French with the owners of the different places in order to understand the language selection for each set of information addressed to customers. The interviewees were informed of the purposes of the study and gave us permission to use the data for scientific purposes, to be recorded and to post it online.Two of them accepted to answer a couple of questions we previously prepared concerning the languages used outside and inside their place and its organization (cf. Appendix B), as well as being recorded. The last owner was not open to discussion; therefore we decided to base our analysis on our own interpretations on the basis of what we could observe in the linguistic landscape. Secondly and with the support of our scripted interviews, an analysis was made based on the owners’ declarative data in order to explain why the different languages were used.

Results and Discussion

Through the diverse pictures taken and displayed in Appendix A, the results of this study showed that the signs used were each bottom-up signs. French signs and information in the three multilingual businesses selected in the Dr César-Roux street were used to convey essential information to customers, such as opening hours (Figures 3, 7, 13) and to provide a translation of the composition of dishes (Figures 2, 8, 9) and explanation of a photograph (Figure 11). The size of the French signage was inconspicuous, although placed in visible areas i.e. the entrance of businesses or close to the checkout.

Based on the interviews of the Italian restaurant Amici and the Lebanese restaurant Man’Ouchy’s owners displayed in Appendix B, we could observe that the owners considered French as being very important according to the official French speaking localisation and because of its expansion which makes it convenient for communication. Indeed, only few customers are not able to speak French in this neighbourhood. In addition to that, both owners affirmed that this language was used in order to target a wider clientele given that it should be understood by everyone and not only expatriates. French would be therefore valued because it is the local language that mostly everyone is able to speak. Concerning the Thai restaurant Pla Tu Thong, important information in small font in the front door was also conveyed in French, such as the opening hours and the refusal of the credit card (Figure 13). The concept of take-away meals was also conducted in French and with a more massive font (Figure 12). Since we could not conduct any interview with the Pla Tu Thong’s owner, we assumed that the place was perhaps too confined to welcome many customers. This could explain the imposing size of the French take-away sign in the shop window which is probably supposed to influence as many customers as possible to take dishes back home. French was consequently valued in these businesses because it remains the official language of the canton of Vaud and in order to target a wider clientele and not only from a given migrant community.

Immigrant languages appeared also as being used in these three businesses. As a matter of fact, Italian, Arabic and Thai were used in the outside facades and the spaces inside, firstly, in order to label the businesses in colourful font and secondly, in smaller one, to label the dishes and their composition in the menu and for decoration.

Based on the observation of the pictures, we supposed that it was used to claim the immigrant identity of the businesses because of the use of authentic products and dishes translated into different languages, as well as the exposition of authentic national products such as wine (Figure 5), tea and handcrafts (Figures 10 & 11). Thereafter, our interviews gave us an insight of the owners’ immigrant backgrounds. The use of Italian for the name of the restaurant and the slogan as well as for the name of its dishes, in the case of Amici aimed to show a new concept to the clientele by translating the previous French name of the place “le Café des Amis”, but also and as expected, to demonstrate the use of authentic products and the Italian-known hospitality i.e. the Italian slogan on the shop window.

In the case of Man’Ouchy restaurant, it was more difficult to make assumptions due to our lack of knowledge about the Arabic variety. After a few searches on the Internet, we could find that the Man’Ouché was a Lebanese specialty restaurant. Through the interview conducted with the owner of the place, we could observe that the Arabic language was used to claim the identity of the business. As matter of fact, the name of the restaurant is a pun only understood by Lebanese as it is a compound the Lebanese pizza (Man’Ouché) and a popular quarter in Lausanne (Ouchy), i.e. a sort of private joke addressed to the Lebanese community. In this way, although not targeting specifically the Lebanese expatriate clientele, Man’Ouchy still claims their cultural identity towards these customers. Furthermore, the owner wanted to introduce this specialty to Switzerland i.e. including local customers, and make it known in a much wider outlook. Names of dishes are also written in Arabic (cf. Appendix A, Figure 8), in order to label authentic products. Some quick translations are provided in a separate sign. By using a word game as a label of the business and authentic names throughout the menu, the Lebanese variety in this context is used to claim an authentic identity inside the business and to differentiate itself from the competitors.

In the case of the Pla Tu Thong restaurant, the use of Thai language is used in order to label the business. However, the abugida is not the Thai original alphabet, but the Latin one. In our opinion, this option could help people realise the actual pronunciation of the business’ name, therefore targeting a wider local clientele. We did not have the opportunity to observe if Thai was used in the inside and on the menu.

In these three multilingual businesses, the use of English was made only by the Lebanese restaurant’s owner within the slogan (cf. Figure 6). In fact, he made this choice in one hand because of his personal bilingual education and in the other hand in order to possibly target international customers. However, advertisements and communication were not conducted through this language, as the neighbourhood appears not to be too touristy. In the case of the Amici restaurant, the use of English was nonexistent in any signage, only in orality in broken English and with help of gestures due to the owner’s lack of knowledge about this language and the pretext that the neighbourhood was not attracting many tourists.

The results of this study have proven some of our presumptions, while the interviews provided information that we would not have thought of otherwise. The immigrant language of each business is used to label the cultural identity of the owners and the businesses, not necessarily to aim the Lebanese expatriate clientele as we thought but principally claim their immigrant identities to the local population which constitutes the vast majority of the clientele of these three businesses. The low influx of tourists is mainly due to the peripheral location of the street; hence very few English features are displayed within the linguistic landscape of this area. Moreover, statistics demonstrate that nearly 80% of the local population use French as first language. Therefore, the three businesses logically use French as means of conveying practical information, since they rarely encounter customers who are not able to speak French.


The main finding of this study includes the discovery of the different functions and values of French (official language in VD) and immigrant languages associated with the ethnic background of the owner and the business in non touristy areas such as César Roux Street. Surprisingly we did not encounter as many English features as expected within the linguistic landscapes of the businesses we studied but this was due to the fact that, being located outside of the touristy area, the clientele of these businesses was mainly local. The large majority of the local population’s first language is French, therefore this language is the most valued and is used to convey most of information i.e. the value given to French is equal to its previsibility. As such, the hierarchy of languages follows the same logic as in Duchêne’s article (Duchêne 2011). However, the immigrant languages are used in order to claim and commodify the owners’ cultural identity, as opposed to the case of Duchêne’s article, in which the immigrant languages, although exploited and benefiting the company, were not given value by the employers. These two cases are very different, considering that the nature of these multilingual businesses is different from the airplane company of Duchêne’s article. Moreover, the employers of the airplane company and the owner of the businesses have different perspectives of immigrant languages, which explain the difference in the aim of their use. For further research, it would be interesting to analyse the use of multilingualism in multilingual businesses in areas in which there are more than one official language or in more touristy areas. As such, we could observe whether the hierarchy of languages fluctuates in such cases or remains stable.

In conclusion, we confirmed the hypothesis that the immigrant language used by the owners of these multilingual businesses was aimed to claim their cultural identity, while practical information is addressed in the official language of the local population which constitutes the majority of the clientele of these businesses i.e. the most predictable language: French.




Duchêne, A. 2011. Neoliberalism, social inequalities, and multilingualism: the exploitation of   linguistic resources and speakers. Langage et société 136.2, 80-108.

Evans, B. and Mooney, A. 2015. Language, Society and Power: An Introduction. New York:   Routledge.

Office d’appui économique et statistique. 2017. Lausanne: portrait statistique
Available at:

Office d’appui économique et statistique. 2017. Présentation des quartiers Vallon/Béthusy

Available at:   des-quartiers/10-vallon-bethusy.html


Appendix A



Figure 1. Italian signage at Amici restaurant.


Figure 2. Italian and French menu displayed outside the Amici restaurant.


Figure 3. French information about opening hours displayed outside the Amici restaurant.









Figure 4 & 5. Inside placeand Italian wine exposed in Amici restaurant


Figure 6. Modern standard Arabic, English and French signage on Man’Ouchy’s facade.


Figure 7. French information about opening hours displayed outside the Man’Ouchy restaurant.



Figure 8. Arabic and French menu displayed inside the restaurant Man’Ouchy.

 Figure 9. French signage explaining the composition of the Lebanese dishes.


Figure 10. Lebanese handicrafts products exposed for selling in Man’Ouchy restaurant.




Figure 11. Lebanese tea packages for selling and Arabic signage. On the wall, a photograph of a painted building’s wall in Lebanon after war.


Figure 12. French and Thai signage on Pla Tu Thong’s facade.


Figure 13. French information about opening hours displayed outside Pla Tu Thong restaurant.


Appendix B

Translation of the interview conducted with the owner of the Italian restaurant

  • We saw that your restaurant’s name was “Amici”, does it have any meaning for you?
  • Yes, the meaning comes from the earlier owners. Before, in the 70s, 80s, this establishment was called “Café des Amis” (Friends’ Café). It is a bit historical, everyone knew this place, because an institution laid behind. So, we wanted to change the name, in order to show to people that there was a new concept, a new cuisine, that a new establishment was going to open. But we didn’t want to lose the history of “Café des Amis”. Therefore, we decided to translate it from French to Italian: restaurant “Café des Amis” to “Amici”.
  • The fact that you translated it was for you to confirm an Italian identity?
  • Yes, and to show that here, we do Italian cuisine with Italian products.
  • What about the slogan “l’ospitalita italiana”?
  • We discussed this idea with my wife, it is our concept to give a hospitality like in Italy. The image, it’s because friends always do handshake to cheer and it has become our logo.
  • The menu written in Italian with the French translation, what is that for?
  • In order to show that it is based on Italian products, to confirm an Italian identity.
  • So, do you target mostly Swiss or expatriate customers?
  • Everyone: expatriate, Italian, local…
  • Do you have any English translation as well?
  • No, not really, we come up to the tables in order to explain a bit, but we don’t speak very well… But we can understand each other with gestures.
  • French is therefore to vehicle essential information?
  • Of course, the language here is French. We don’t want to have to explain to each table the composition of dishes. It’s not a very touristic area, just a few people do not speak neither Italian or French.


Translation of the interview conducted with the owner of the Lebanese restaurant Man’Ouchy:

  • Your place is called “Man’Ouchy”, it is a Lebanese pizza, right?
  • Exactly, it is a word game. My specialty is the Lebanese Man’Ouché and as we’re in Lausanne, we made a word game with Man’Ouchy. Lebanese understand straight forward, especially when they see the picture of the Man’Ouché on the truck. The others ask if we have a restaurant in Ouchy.
  • Does this name target a population of Lebanese culture or not necessarily?
  • Lebanese understand the game word, but we wanted to introduce the Man’Ouché in Switzerland. There are many traditional Lebanese restaurants, but we’re the first to introduce this specialty here. The idea was to make it known in Switzerland.
  • We noticed that your slogan on the shop window was in English, what is the reason to that?
  • First of all, I am an English speaker. In Lebanon, education is not given in Arabic as many people believe, but a lot in French and English. Secondly, there are many Lebanese restaurants in Geneva which target international customers. English and American people appreciate Lebanese food and are therefore a target for us. But until now, I have never used the English language through communication and social medias. Communication and advertisement through these networks are essentially made in French. English would eventually help us to reach these customers.
  • Would English be used to attract international customers?
  • But here in Lausanne, we mostly target French speakers. Therefore, we tried to “francophonised” the menu. Names of dishes are in Arabic, but the signage against the other walls explain the composition of dishes entirely in French.