Pragmatic Variation in Service Encounters in Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Allison Brooke Yates


The present study investigates pragmatic variation in public service encounters in corner stores in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Drawing from previous service encounter studies (Félix-Brasdefer, 2015; Placencia, 2005, 2008), this study seeks to analyze three levels of pragmatic variation (Barron & Schneider, 2009; Schneider & Barron, 2008): the interactional level (openings and closings), the actional level (request types), and stylistic level (address forms and pronouns). The analysis also addresses the issue of gender variation. This paper examines 97 transactions from natural recordings at corner stores (“kioscos”) recorded between September-December 2012 in Almagro, Buenos Aires. The results demonstrate a general trend for preference of direct questions and elliptical requests (actional level), the presence of short and informal openings and closings (interactional level), informal-you (vos), the use of nicknames, and the absence of lexical downgraders in both requests and relational talk (actional and stylistic levels). In terms of gender, this paper argues that excluding the stylistic level, there is almost no difference in service encounters in Buenos Aires Spanish.


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