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Cross-Cultural Negotiation: Touristic Service Encounters in Yucatán, Mexico
Megan Solon
252-268 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The aim of the present study is to examine cross-cultural service encounters realized between Mexican vendors of artifacts and souvenirs and their culturally and linguistically diverse customers in the open-air setting of Chichén Itzá, a famous tourist attraction in Yucatán, Mexico. The data come from more than 55 hours of audio-recorded service encounter interactions recorded during June 2010. The present study offers an account of the sequential, contextual, and linguistic features that influence this particular type of talk-in-interaction. Specifically, adopting the discourse analytical framework presented by Schiffrin (2006), this investigation focuses its analysis on two levels of discourse, the act structures and the participation framework, and investigates the sequential organization of the service encounter interactions, the actional moves (e.g., making and refusing offers and requests) made by participants, and the strategies (e.g., phatic communication, choice of linguistic code, etc.) employed in interaction to achieve desired outcomes. Results indicate a general absence of explicit requests. Instead, participants use request and offer solicitations as well as requests for price information and subsequent negotiation sequences to advance the transactional interaction. Additionally, vendors employ several strategies to aid in completing transactions including explicitly selecting the medium for the interaction, accommodating to a customer's language choice, and recurring to in-group discourse and non-transactional phatic communication to engage customers. This paper complements and expands on the literature on institutional discourse, service encounter interactions, and intercultural communication, with an analysis of a multicultural and multilingual service encounter context in which an explicit request for service is not the central speech act of the interaction.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Chad Howe, Sarah E. Blackwell, and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
Table of contents
Printed edition: $310.00