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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.652
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CiteScore 2018: 1.24

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Intra-cultural variation: Explanations in service calls to two Montevidean service providers.

Rosina Márquez Reiter
Published Online: 2008-02-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2008.001


This article offers an intra-cultural pragmatic analysis of some aspects of the interactional behaviour of Uruguayans (Montevideans) in non-emergency service calls to two telephone service centres. In both sets of calls customers telephone to confirm delivery of a service for which there has been some delay. In particular, this study investigates the strategies employed by service representatives to apologize for a perceived company's shortfall.

The findings show similarities in the overall organization of both sets of calls as well as in the type of apologizing sub-strategy deployed. Service representatives in both companies coincided in choosing explanations as an expression of remedial work. Although explanations figured in both sets of calls, those given by the call-takers of one of the companies consisted of justifications for the service shortfall and contained explicit expressions of apology, while those of the other company comprised excuses and expressions of evasion of responsibility.

The choice of apologizing sub-strategy is explained by the fact that the offence was regarded as non-severe and by the state of consumer rights in the country. The variation observed in the way the explanations were constructed is attributed to the different micro cultures of the companies.

Keywords: apology; remedial work; justifications; excuses; openings; closings; consumer rights

About the article

Rosina Márquez Reiter

Rosina Marquez Reiter is senior lecturer at the University of Surrey. Her research has focused on cross-cultural differences in speech act realization, (mediated) service encounters and pragmatic variation. Her current research focuses on institutional talk in Spanishes with particular reference to mediated service calls to and from a multinational call centre. Her publications include Linguistic Politeness in Britain and Uruguay (John Benjamins, 2000), Spanish Pragmatics (Palgrave, 2005, co-authored), Current Trends in the Pragmatics of Spanish (John Benjamins, 2004, co-edited) and research articles in journals such as Pragmatics, Applied Linguistics, Intercultural Pragmatics, and Research on Language and Social Interaction.

Published Online: 2008-02-13

Published in Print: 2008-01-01

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–29, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2008.001.

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