Domestic work = language work? Language and gender ideologies in the marketing of multilingual domestic workers in London


  • Rachelle Vessey Birkbeck, University of London



language ideology, gender ideology, corpus linguistics, domestic work, nanny, london


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.

Author Biography

Rachelle Vessey, Birkbeck, University of London

Rachelle Vessey is Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published on language ideologies, nationalism, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis in journals such as Multilingua, Applied Linguistics, Journal of Multicultural Discourses and Journal of Language and Politics. Her monograph Language and Canadian Media: Representations, Ideologies, Policies was published in 2016.


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How to Cite

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.