Post on NPR’s Code Switch blog: “A Code-Switching Tour of L.A.’s Chinatown”

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This photo is not from Los Angeles and thus did not make the cut.

I wrote a short post on multilingual signs in Los Angeles for NPR’s new Code Switch blog. I got to share some of my favorite photos from Migrantography (my favorites out of the ones I took, that is) and discuss the diversity of LA’s Chinatown community.

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Language and the stratification of restaurant labour

Originally posted at Language on the Move.

Different languages for different jobs in this Los Angeles restaurant

Different languages for different jobs in this Los Angeles restaurant

Are there language requirements for working in restaurants in Los Angeles? These two employment signs that I saw in the window of a sushi restaurant near UCLA suggests that you need English to wait tables and Spanish to work in the kitchen.

On the left, the English sign says ‘Experienced servers! Full or Part Time, Inquire Within’. On the right, the Spanish sign seeks ‘amigo con experiensia en cocina japonesa’ (‘friend** with experience in Japanese cooking/cuisine’).

It makes sense for the sign about servers to be in English. English is the predominant language in the United States, and this restaurant is located in a largely white and Persian neighbourhood. Servers would have to be able to communicate in English to do their job adequately. But why is the second sign in Spanish? Is knowledge of Spanish necessary to work in the kitchen?
Continue reading “Language and the stratification of restaurant labour”