This article analyzes unsolicited telephone calls in Italian, wherein employees of a bank telephone existing clients in order to arrange a consultation at the bank. The study documents two techniques with which callers attempt to secure appointments: (i) they can convey an invitation to come to the bank as the reason for the call and subsequently disclose the purpose of the meeting (formulation format); or (ii) they can first report an event concerning the client and then attempt to organize a meeting (solicitation format). In the first format the invitation is proffered with a declarative clause, in the second format with an interrogative clause. Acceptance of invitations tends to occur early after the solicitation format and late in response to the formulation format. Conversely, rejection of the invitation occurs early after the formulation format vs. late in response to the solicitation format. Institutional invitations are done in the service of another objective, namely selling new services; the project of arranging an appointment is abandoned if clients accept to sign up for specific services. Using conversation analysis, this article illustrates how the ordering of actions and the choice of grammatical patterns are consequential for clients’ responses to institutional invitations.
Journal of Pragmatics – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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