Filipino Domestic Worker English


  • Ariane Macalinga Borlongan Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and University of Freiburg


Transnational domestic workers, Philippine English, world Englishes, migration linguistics, labor migration


This article provides a description of the distinctive phonological, lexical, and grammatical features of ‘Filipino domestic worker English’. Data for this linguistic description consist of recordings of interactions between Filipino domestic workers and their employers’ children from Hong Kong and Singapore. The phonology of Filipino domestic worker English still resembles Philippine English, yet with much richer inventory of sounds than basilectal Philippine English. But at the suprasegmental level, Filipino domestic workers attempt to approximate that of the local English. Lexical borrowings between Filipino domestic workers and their employers’ children are common, but borrowings from children to worker are overwhelmingly more frequent. In terms of grammar, there are a few noticeable idiosyncrasies in Filipino domestic workers English, but most especially in agreement, tense, and adverbs. English(es) is being acquired, learned, and used in these societies with a greater probability through Filipino domestic workers at home. It is, therefore, necessary that the language use of these workers be on the agenda of researchers, policy-makers, practitioners, educators, and other stakeholders in the migration process.



10 Dec 2022