Central America

  • Costa Rica

    Costa Rica is located in Central America, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua, and Panama. One quarter of the total population of 4.5 million live in its capital, San José.

    Pragmatics of Costa Rican Spanish includes the study of the perception of (im)politeness in public service interactions in San José as well as comparative analyses of requests.

    If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

    Pragmatic Variation by Region in Costa Rica

    Study

    Pragmatic Target

    Region

    Method of Data Collection

    Main Results

    Murillo Medrano (2004)

    (Im)politeness

    San José

    Perception interviews

    Participants of this study answered (im)politeness perception interviews that focused on (im)polite behavior, expected speech acts of the transaction, and the interpersonal conception of client-teller identities. In this community, solidarity strategies are considered politeness regardless of social distance or power. Therefore, solidarity speech acts were anticipated such as greeting, thanking, and farewells. In sum, the Costa Rican politeness system operates on a baseline of solidarity strategies, which can be augmented in interactions with varying degrees of social distance and power.

    Félix-Brasdefer (2010)

    Requests

    San José

    Role play

    In this comparative study between Costa Rican and Mexican Spanish, it was found that conventional indirectness was the preferred request strategy for all varieties. Regional differences represented the frequency of use of direct or indirect requests and internal modification. For Costa Rican speakers, direct and conventionally indirect acts were more frequent than the other two groups. Additionally, these speakers preferred to modify requests with the suppositional future.

    Félix-Brasdefer (2009)

    Requests

    San José

    Role play

    In this comparative study between Costa Rican, Mexican, and Dominican Spanish, prosodic downgraders and conventional indirectness influences the politeness of the request. Cost Rican participants utilized more request acts than the other two groups. In this data, Costa Ricans preferred imperatives and query preparatory strategies compared to the other two varieties.

     

    References  

    Murillo Medrano, J. (2004). La cortesía verbal en Costa Rica. Percepciones de los hablantes sobre la (des)cortesía en puestos de atención al público. In Bravo, D. & Briz (Eds.), Pragmática sociocultural: estudios sobre el discurso de cortesía en español. Barcelona: Ariel Lingüística, 181-194.

    Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2009). Pragmatic variation across Spanish(es): Requesting in Mexican, Costa Rican, and Dominican Spanish. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6(4), 473-515.

    Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2010). Intra-lingual prgmatic variation in Mexico City and San José, Costa Rica: A focus on regional differences in female requests. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(11), 2992-3011.

  • El Salvador

    Though El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America; it hosts the densest population with approximately 6 million people. San Salvador is the most populous city in addition to being its capital. Its population identifies primarily as mestizos of European and Indigenous descent.

    Currently there is no research on Pragmatics in El Salvador. If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

  • Guatemala

     

    Guatemala, the most populous country in Central America, hosts a population of approximately 15 million people. Approximately half of the population identifies with an indigenous ethnicity such as K’iche’, Kaqchickel, and other Mayan cultures. Guatemala is bordered by Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Its capital is located in Guatemala City.

    Currently there is no research on Pragmatics in Guatemala. If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

     

  • Honduras

    Honduras, surrounded by Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua in Central America, has had a rich history of Mesoamerican culture. Indeed, present-day Catholicism in Honduras is influenced by Mesoamerican traditions. The majority of the Honduran population of approximately 8 million identifies as mestizo.

    Currently there is no research on Pragmatics in Honduras. If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

  • Nicaragua

    Nicaragua is the largest and most linguistically diverse country in Central America. Spanish represents the national language; however, regional languages such as Misitiko, Rama, Sumo, Garifuna, Rama Cay Creole, and Misitiko Coastal Creole are also recognized along with English. Its capital city, Managua, is the third largest city in Central America, which hosts a substantial portion of Nicaragua’s population of approximately 6 million.

    Currently there is no research on Pragmatics in Honduras. If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

  • Panama

    Panama is a Central American country that is famous for its canal located outside of its capital, Panama City. Half of the total population live inside the capital city where Spanish is the only recognized official language. Canal tolls and tourism contribute to Panama’s strong economy.

    Pragmatics in Panama, while not treated frequently, has illuminated the negative politeness strategies in apologies and/or lack of apologies in Panamanian Spanish.

    If you have researched pragmatics or discourse in this country and would like to contribute to this page, please email Prof. César Félix-Brasdefer (cfelixbr@indiana.edu).

    Pragmatic Variation by Region in Panama

    Study

    Pragmatic Target

    Region

    Method of Data Collection

    Main Results

    Platz (2014)

    Advice

    Panama City

    Role plays

    This comparative analysis between Nicaraguan and Panamanian varieties of Spanish show pragmalinguistic similarities between participants of both regions in contexts of advice. Specifically, they choose to respect the association principle while violating the equity principle according to Spanish-Oatey’s (2005) Rapport Management. Similar to other research on directives in the Spanish-speaking world, speakers of these varieties give advice directly with little mitigation, which is associated with an assumption of high levels of confianza (e.g., Apártate de ese idiota y sigue tu vida de tu hijo). Therefore, advice-giving is a rapport-enhancing act.

    Wagner & Roebuck (2010)

    Apologies

    Panama City

    Spontaneous speech, participant observation

    In this comparative study between Cuernavaca Spanish (Mexico) and Panamanian Spanish, sociopragmatic differences in apologizing are observed between these varieties and previously studied Spanish varieties. In both dialects, speakers frequently used and IFID accompanied by an explanation or excuse for their offense, which demonstrated preferred negative politeness strategies. Nevertheless, these groups differed from previously studied Cuban and Uruguayan speakers in that Cuernavaca and Panamanian speakers often did not take responsibility. The lack of apology shows contrast between shame and blame cultures in the light of face-threatening acts.

     

    References  

    Platz, R. (2014). Giving Advice in Nicaragua and Panama. Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 10(1). 89-116.

    Wagner, L. C. & Roebuck, R. (2010). Apologizing in Cuernavaca, Mexico and Panama City, Panama. Spanish in Context, 7(2), 254-278.