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Domestic Workers Talk : Language Use and Social Practices in a Multilingual Workplace, Paperback / softback Book

Domestic Workers Talk : Language Use and Social Practices in a Multilingual Workplace Paperback / softback

Part of the Language at Work series

Paperback / softback


Set in a multilingual cleaning company that serves Anglophone customers in the upper-(middle) class suburbs of New York City, this book presents an ethnographic study into power, language policy and communication from the perspectives of the Brazilian–American employer as well as the company’s Hispanophone and Lusophone employees.

Power asymmetries in internal communication demonstrate the employer’s legitimated domination over her employees and her L1 Portuguese as a form of linguistic capital.

Employees’ resourcefulness and multicompetence – rather than quantifiable levels of English-language proficiency – determine the extent to which they rely on language brokering to facilitate communication with their customers, directly impacting their agency.

The book contributes to current debates on extra-linguistic modes of communication in multilingual settings and thematic analyses of care work, migration, communication and the role of English.


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