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LOO FEY?A Linguistic Ethnography of Bargaining in the Dakar MarketplaceClaire HarterUniversity of FloridaApril 2, 2015
IntroductionFieldsite: markets in Dakar, SenegalTopic: Waxaale (bargaining) - important genre & speech eventFinancial transactionSocial interactionBuyer and seller must agree on a price not fixedThis study focuses on: What the bargaining speech event comprisesRequirements for competence in the speech eventResearch question: How do buyer and seller use bargaining strategies to reach their goals?What goals? What strategies?
Sociolinguistic backgroundMethodologyTheoretical backgroundDefining the speech eventBargaining strategies Summary and conclusionsRoad Map
Excerpt 1Example of Urban Wolof1 Buyermm (1.3) waa mais (.) veste bi wi ko?mm (1.3) yeah but lower the price of the jacket2 Seller veste bi ak jupe bi? graawul mn na nekk quinze millethe jacket and the skirt? no problem, it can be fifteen thousand3 Buyer non non j- yow key wi ko ba leegi? no no I- you haven't reduced the price yet
Linguistic AspectsWolofization: Increase in use of Wolof throughout Senegal (esp. urban centers), decrease in use of other natl languagesUrban Wolof the primary language of data: French lexical items in Wolof matrix (Wolof in bold-italics, French in italics)
Cultural AspectsInterpersonal relationships and social networksSubstantial discourse (limited and purposeful speech)Exchange of favorsTraditional social hierarchy in Senegal mutual obligation between lower members (deference) and higher members (gifts/help/favors)Bargaining strategies draw on this traditional idea of exchange of favors to gain bargaining advantage/power in marketplaceThe role of religion in Senegalese societyIslam (since 11th cent.) + Christianity (since 17th cent.)98% of the population states that religion is very important in their lives (Pew Forum survey)
MethodologyEthnography of communication approachCorpus of audio recordings from research trip in May 2014Visited 3 markets: HLM (10.4%) Tilne (34.4%)Sandaga (55.2%)
MethodologyDifferent types of shops: rented shops, street-side stands, marchands ambulants (itinerant merchants)Collected: 2 hours 36 minutes of interaction/waxaale data 15 complete bargaining sequences (plus numerous incomplete sequences)Interactions between 12 sellers, 19 buyers2 ethnographic interviews w/sellers: 1 in French, 1 in Urban WolofModified CA transcriptions
Difficulties w/ procuring recordings; mistrust on the part of sellers (esp. female)Paucity of female vendor data, as seen in this table:
Les femmes sont compliques, folk sociology (quotation provided by my research assistant)
MethodologyMale SellerFemale SellerMale Buyer2.4%22.4%Female Buyer64.8%10.4%
Theoretical BackgroundA community of practice is at the same time its members and what its members are doing to make them a community (Wardhaugh, 2006, p. 127)Sociolinguistic studies on the market settingChakrani, Moroccan bargaining strategies (2007)Sossehs doctoral dissertation, quantitative approach to Dakar market discourse (1987)Alo & Soneye, language choice in Nigeria (2014)Cultural context is crucial (Blommaert, 2005)Looked at discussions by Meyer (2008, 2010), Dia (2011) Sociolinguistic studies in Dakar e.g. Mc Laughlin (2001)
Theoretical BackgroundWhat is power in this context? Muthoos definition: a players bargaining power [is] captured, in general, by her share of the surplus [the gap between the minimum price the seller will take for the object/service and the maximum price the buyer will pay] (2000)Bourdieus idea of linguistic exchange as negotiation of symbolic power (1991/2014)Goffmans idea of footing/stance/alignment: interlocutors align themselves with others in certain ways as expressed in the way [they] manage the production or reception of an utterance (1981, p. 128)
Defining the Event
Speech Event v. GenreSpeech eventrefers to the specific concept of waxaale in the Dakar marketplaceHymes SPEAKING mnemonic (1986/2009) is crucial here: delineates recognizable components of given speech eventGenrerefers to a class/type of speech event, in this case the broad category of bargaining in the Senegalese contextKoester and Handford: staged, goal-oriented activity (2012, p. 255)
Setting/scene: Dakar marketplace/cultural contextParticipants: (1) Seller, (2) buyerEnds (goals): Get a fair price, establish social relationsAct sequence: 1) investigation, 2) offer, 3) discussion [2 and 3 both comprise bargaining], 4) conclusionKey (tone): Varies depending on specific encounter Instrumentalities: Oral, face-to-face; Urban WolofNorms: rules for the speech event required for competence inc. backward moves are forbidden and accepted bids must be honored (Steiner 1994, p. 72)Genre (Hymes definition omitted from discussion; use Koester and Handfords definition instead)Speech Event
Structure of the SequenceGreeting is optional (contrary to Irvines 1989 observations in the rural Wolof setting) in Dakar marketplace not required to start interaction although required in most contextsFour required steps: 1) investigation of the object2) price offer(s)3) discussion4) conclusion of the sequenceAll steps must take place for the bargaining speech event to have occurred; if (3) is skipped, for example, a buying speech event has occurred instead
bargaining stages,may be iteratedGenre
Communicative PurposesOverarching purpose of waxaale: to create the price of an item through linguistic acts (e.g. bargaining strategies)Each participant aims to gain bargaining power in the transaction while adhering to social normsproducer surplus (what I call seller advantage) v.consumer surplus (what I call buyer advantage)Social advantage, not only economic advantage, is key: Interlocutors must establish/maintain relationship as well as get a good price for the productGenre
Communicative PurposesHow do we identify the goals of interlocutors? Contextualization cues (Gumperz, 1992) Acts of positioning (Goffman, 1981)
Buyer positions herself as participating in the act of waxaale (1); positions other participant as seller (3)
Excerpt 2Reference to waxaale
1 Buyer bgguma la- bgguma kii- ko forcer (.) leegi nau waxaale I don't want you - I dont want - to force it. now we bargain2 (3.4)3 leegi (.) veste bi yaangi ma koy jaaye sept mille now, the vest, you are selling it to me for seven thousandGenre
Pragmatic CompetenceBargaining, as with all human interaction, is governed by rules or norms for the use of speech (Hymes 1986/2009)Pragmatic competence requires following these rulesSpecific parameters/guidelines for the genrePragmatic competence involves knowing how bargaining works as described above (purposes and sequential stages) Social and linguistic constraints on the genre are part of pragmatic competence; participants must conform to norms Communicative incompetence occurs when norms are not conformed to, by those who do not fully understand what the bargaining genre entails or how to use strategies
Overview8 linguistic strategies identified (4 buyer, 4 seller)Interlocutors use strategies to gain social and economic advantage (bargaining power)Strategies may come from a position of subordination or from a position of superioritySubordinate position not to be mistaken for a loss/lack of power, but rather as a strategic act of positioning
(I) B shows a lack of need for/interest in the product.(II) B exerts cultural pressure on S.(III) B presents a narrative of economic deficiency.(IV) B asks for a favor from S in exchange for a future favor by B.(V) S compares/contrasts his/her own wares to justify price. (VI) S shows benevolence toward B. (VII) S presents a narrative of economic deficiency. (VIII) S gives B a compliment related to the product s/he is considering.
Buyer StrategiesFrom a superior position: (I) B shows a lack of need for/interest in the product.
(II) B exerts cultural pressure on S.
Excerpt 3B demonstrates low demand
1 Buyer: lii amul benn problem dama ko romb mane dama bggoon there is no problem here, I just passed by and wanted2 jnd si yeen (.) amuma benn fte amuma dara! to buy at your shop (.) I dont have a single party, I have nothing!Excerpt 4B exerts cultural pressure1 Buyer: lii laa yore Yalla bu u tiim xam na ko (1.5)this is what I have on me, god only knows2man duma- duma- duma waxantume I- I- I dont talk without meaning
Buyer StrategiesFrom a subordinate position: (III) B presents a narrative of economic deficiency.
(IV) B asks for a favor from S.Excerpt 6B asks for a favor1 Buyer: xam nau du prix mais danga uy jappalewe know it's not the right price, but you have to help us2et si bs bu defe mu w Ndakaaruand if some day she comes to Dakar4 Buyer: fii lay wshe will come hereExcerpt 5B explains offer2 Seller: =may naa le deux mille francs give me the two thousand francs3 Buyer: bayyil u passer ko ibbi let it go so we can pay to get home
Seller StrategiesFrom a superior position:(V) S compares/contrasts his own wares to justify price.
(VI) S demonstrates benevolence in the transaction.
Excerpt 8S adds gift1 Seller: ndax xam nga dama bgg moo bg because you know I want her to be happy 2dama ci boole benn porte cl pour cadeauI'm throwing in a keychain as a giftExcerpt 7S compares skirts1 Seller: no no yooyu gnul seer no no those are not more expensive2 bii moo gn a seer (.) yiithis one is more expensive, these3 xanaa xamoo yu gatt yi sax moo gn a seerindeed, the short ones are even more expensive4 a depend ci qualit bi rekkit just depends on the quality