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

Márquez Reiter, Rosina (2008). Intra-cultural variation: Explanations in service calls to two Montevidean service providers. Journal of Politeness Research: language, behavior, culture, 4(1) 1 - 29.



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.

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