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Performing directives in Spanish: the case of advice by Nicaraguan and Panamanian women

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Although pragmatic analyses based on empirical data have been conducted throughout most of the Spanish-speaking world, Central America remains the most underrepresented region. This study examines the pragmatic strategies used

Although pragmatic analyses based on empirical data have been conducted throughout most of the Spanish-speaking world, Central America remains the most underrepresented region. This study examines the pragmatic strategies used by female Spanish speakers of Nicaragua and Panama in an advice-giving context. The data consists of eighteen role-plays recorded in Masaya, Nicaragua and Panama City, Panama in June and July of 2011. In the role-play situation, the interlocutor (fixed-role) requests advice from the participant, her best friend, regarding a serious issue in her marriage. The participant's advice-giving strategies are classified according to a categorization adapted from Blum-Kulka's request strategy taxonomy. This allows for a statistical analysis of how these strategies correspond to the three elements of Spencer Oatey's rapport management approach: behavioral expectations, face sensitivities and interactional wants. The results indicate strong similarities between participants from Nicaragua and Panama, both electing to respect all components of the association principle and to violate the equity principle, especially its autonomy control component. These results suggest that, at least in this advice-giving context between intimates, both Nicaraguan and Panamanian Spanish speakers prefer to impose their opinions and suggestions rather than respect the person's right to be treated fairly (i.e. equity principle) as well as to maintain a rapport-enhancing orientation rather than preserve their right to associate with others (i.e. association principle). The results of the pragmatic analysis show similarities with other research on directives in the Spanish-speaking world, including empirical studies in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Venezuela and Spain. Specifically, these cultures are all associated with direct strategies and less mitigation, positive politeness, conventional indirectness and high involvement.

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  • 2012