sales tag

(Márquez-Reiter & Placencia, 2004)




In this section, we examine some of the differences in pragmatic strategies used in merchant interactions in Ecuador and Uruguay.  By learning to pay attention to these differences, you will be better equipped to interact with merchants in a variety of Spanish-speaking countries.

How do service encounters in Ecuador and Uruguay compare?

In general, service encounters in Ecuador and Uruguay primarily differ in the way that people place themselves in the interaction.  In Uruguay, speakers tend to use strategies that indicate involvement or closeness among themselves and the person they are interacting with, even if he or she is a stranger.  On the other hand, in Ecuadorian Spanish, speakers tend to use strategies to maintain social distance between the merchant and the client. We see these differences in the following areas:



Terms of Address
In Uruguay, and vos are common strategies merchants and clients use in addressing one another.  This indicates a certain level of solidarity in the relationship.  On the other hand, Ud. is primarily used in the Ecuadorian service encounters, indicating a higher level of formality. 

sales presentation



In Uruguay, informal greetings are common.  For example:

Vendedor: Hola.
Cliente: Hola.

In Ecuador, formal greetings are much more common and important for establishing the relationship between the merchant and the client. For example:

Vendedor: Buenos días.
Cliente: Buenos días.


Also, in Ecuadorian Spanish, more greeting sequences tend to be included in the opening section and serve as an invitation to open the business transaction.  This is even common among people who know one another, as in the conversation below. 

Cliente: Sebastián, buenos días.
Vendedor: ¿Cómo está señor? Buenos días.
Cliente: ¿Cómo le va?
Vendedor: Bien, no más, ¿Ud.?
Cliente: Bien, gracias.

Placencia (2004, p. 229)




Selling Strategies

In Uruguay, selling strategies are more common and tend to employ personalization strategies.  In Ecuador, this type of selling is much less frequent.

cash register




In the service encounters in Uruguay, closings tend include many more turns, similar to what we saw between the vendor and client in the Peruvian interaction earlier in this module.  Leave takings almost always occur. 

In Ecuador, the closings include fewer turns and fewer leave-takings, especially among strangers. 




Let’s think about what happens in English for just a minute.  Do you think business transactions between vendors and clients are more like those in Ecuador or in Uruguay?  Justify your answer with details.