The hiring of domestic workers - normally female - in the globalised economy involves assumptions and expectations not only about the so-called 'natural' female instinct for childcare and cleaning, but also about language use and transmission. Domestic worker agencies play an important role at the interface between the public sphere (where the languages are normally valuable) and the home (the workplace of domestic workers). An examination of the skills discourses used in the marketing of domestic workers reveals tensions between the language and gender ideologies underpinning this juncture. Using corpus linguistics to examine London-based domestic worker agency websites, findings reveal highly traditional and conservative notions of language and gender underpinning contradictory arguments about the supposedly advantageous nature of multilingualism.

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Gender and Language
School of Linguistics and Language Studies

Vessey, R. (2019). Domestic work = language work? Language and gender ideologies in the marketing of multilingual domestic workers in London. Gender and Language, 13(3), 314–338. doi:10.1558/genl.35581