“Por favor preguntar por el managuer”

I spotted this help wanted posting in the window of a Japanese restaurant in Monterey Park, California. Monterey Park is at the heart of the Chinese ethnoburban sprawl in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles. The restaurant is in a fairly new mixed-use complex with condominiums and businesses catering to affluent Chinese.

This sign is quite similar to the one I discussed in a Language on the Move post from last year about language and racially/ethnically stratified restaurant work. Both signs are from Japanese restaurants in areas that are not significant Japanese enclaves, and are seeking “back of the house” kitchen workers in less-than-perfect Spanish. Significantly, this one is in English, as well.

As I discuss in the previous post, the concentration of Mexican and Central American immigrants in low-wage restaurant work in Los Angeles has made Spanish the lingua franca of the back of the house. Waldinger (1998) has found that employers respond to this by preferential hiring of Spanish speakers. This, of course, reinforces the niching of Latin Americans in this line of work.


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