The Linguistic Landscape of a hipster in Tilburg

In order to understand the hipster, you have to be the hipster.

Daisy Koppen

… this was our motto for the week in which we conducted our research to the linguistic landscape of the hipster. Keeping this idea in mind we needed to choose an area in which we could infiltrate in the hipster world. For this we chose the stationstraat in Tilburg.

Why the stationstraat? Well this street is in our opinion the most hipster-like street of Tilburg.  It consists of all type of shops, bars and cafes which all have their own identity. The stationstraat starts with a few cafes and shops that are very globally orientated. An example of this is Pino’s world cafe which focusses on food from all around the world. Their menu varies from chicken saté from Indonesia to a tajine dish from Morocco. Another clear example of a very globally orientated shop is Jakob’s. This shop sells Lebara sim cards which is known for offering cheap calls all over the world. The more you walk along the stationstraat towards the city centre, the more niché cafes you will find.

As a starting point you can take Beans & Bites, which is a coffeeshop that actually sells coffee. What was most striking about the coffeeshop   was that all advertisements were in English. On top of this there were advertisements that there was WIFI available and even a sticker of tripadvisor was found. We felt like we were getting closer to the real deal as our expectations were to find a lot of English combined with pointers to a global look on life. This could not only be found in Beans & Bites, but in the entire stationstraat as a lot of laterns were covered in stickers that promoted brands and / or entrepeneurs. This is a very clever way of marketing as almost everyone, and defitinely hipsters, own a smartphone. All you have to do is google the address and you end up on the website that was advertised on the stickers. On one of the stickers we found a link to a festival called Mundial. This is a cultural festival based in Tilburg and takes places at the Spoorzone, a very upcoming and trendy area in Tilburg. This is why we also decided to involve this area in our further search for the perfect hipster.

Before we started our search for the linguistic landscape of hipsters in Tilburg, we expected to find a lot of English. However, we mostly found a combination of English and old-fashioned Dutch words. These were mostly found as cafe or bar names. Let’s have a look at Buutvrij. This is cafe is definitely a combination of a few languages. The first view you get when you see the cafe is the name: Buutvrij. Not in English as we expected, but an old-fashioned Dutch word. Buutvrij is a very old Dutch game which has to be played outside. However, when you enter the cafe and take a look at the menu it happens to be all in English. Aha! So there is English as we expected. Now we took an even closer look and to our surprise there was an advertisement of a drink with a German name: Fritz-cola. Not exactly what we expected to find, but a nice surprise!

Another fun example of what we found is a flowershop called BLOOM. To a foreign person this might just sound English, but in Tilburg this can be seen as a word joke. If you pronounce bloom is sounds exactly like the Dutch world “bloem” which is a translation of flower and this was a flowershop. Clever way of combining English and Dutch.

Continuing to a shop called Appelsien who sells local fresh vegetables and fruits. This word “appelsien” is the Brabantish way of pronouncing sinaasappel, orange in English. Stick to local but think global. This seems to be the central theme here and in most cafes, shops and bars we found in the stationstreet.

The cherry on top of our research this week was a coffeebar called LOCALS. Their name LOCALS is in English, but a clear link to the local environment. However, below their name it said Global Flavours accompanied with a sticker advertising their facebook and twitter. What the coffeebar actually serves are slow coffees with global flavours. This seems quite paradoxal as the answer to the fast globalization of the world was the slow movement. Grab some time and take it slow. The same can be said for global and local. Or should the term GLOCAL be used?

Think global, act local. This seems the motto throughout the Stationstraat in Tilburg. 

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