The article deals with the choice of Spanish forms of address on online web stores. It focuses on the choice between informal (tú/vos) and formal address (usted), studied empirically using a corpus created with Google searches. In the context of an online web store, the aim is to build enough confidence in the potential buyer so that they end up buying the product offered even when the seller is not physically present and the customer does not have an opportunity to examine the product. Moreover, payment is done online, which often involves certain risks.
Both tuteo/voseo and ustedeo include elements aimed at building confidence in the potential customer, though from different perspectives. When the customer is addressed with tú/vos, the aim is to build confidence including a nuance of familiarity in the sales discourse. By contrast, ustedeo includes nuances of politeness and formality, and conveys the hidden message that since the online web store addresses the customer in a correct and respectful manner, the same good practices also extend to purchase situations.
The article presents results and conclusions related to the following research questions: the general features of the use of forms of address on online web stores; the forms of address on the online web stores in the 21 Spanish-speaking countries of the world; the forms of address in Spanish texts on US online web stores, and pages on which the potential customer is addressed with usted.
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