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New book on domestic workers talk: language use and social practices in a multilingual workplace

2 Feb 2024


This new co-authored book by our Dr Anne Schluter published by Multilingual Matters, 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. The study is set in a multilingual cleaning company that serves Anglophone customers in the upper- (middle-) class suburbs of New York City.

Power asymmetries in internal communication play into the employer’s legitimated domination over her employees; moreover, her L1 Portuguese and her command of English both represent important forms 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 customers, directly impacting their individual agency.

This book contributes to current debates on extra-linguistic modes of communication in multilingual settings and thematic analyses of care work, migration, and the role of English. Furthermore, it adds to the growing literature devoted to the sociolinguistics of migrant domestic workers.

More information about the book can be found on the website HERE.

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