hawker and vendor

Discussion in 'English Only' started by keung, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. keung Senior Member

    HongKong, China
    Hi all,

    I was wondering any different between “hawker “ and “vender”.
    When a man brings his goods constantly moving on the street to finds buyer, we call it “ hawker “ ?
    When a man stay at street stall waiting the interested come to buy, we call it “vender “ ?
    Or essentially no different ?

    Thank !
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I think your definitions are right on -- but then I live in Hong Kong. :)

    I also spell it vendor, but I see than vender is acceptable in AE.
  3. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    A vendor is a person who sells. If I sell my house to Copyright, then I am the vendor, and Copyright is the purchaser.

    "Hawker" is an occupation. A hawker is a person who goes from place to place selling goods. When the hawker sells you some of his wares, he is a vendor and you are a purchaser.

    "Pedlar" [aslo written peddlar and pedler] has the same meaning as hawker.

    If the man has a stall, then he is a stallholder. Mrs Jones is a stallholder in the Central Market. If I buy some jeans at Mrs Jones's stall, then I am a purchaser and she is a vendor.
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    It might be a little different in American English. If I sell a house I am the seller, not the vendor, and Copyright is the buyer (although he could also be called the purchaser). A vendor sells goods or services on a regular basis.

    (Personally, I wouldn't spell it "vender" even if a dictionary offers it as an alternate spelling. I have only seen vendor in business English.)
  5. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    I agree with all of this as regards AE.

    Also, we generally don't use the word "hawker." The person who goes through the stands at a sports event, selling food, is a vendor: a hot-dog vendor, a peanut vendor, an ice-cream vendor.

    The word "vendor" can also apply to a company, especially in high-tech. We can say "Microsoft and Oracle are software vendors." (This usage often confuses my introductory information systems students the first time they see it, since they think of vendors in the sense of the previous paragraph. They picture someone walking through a stadium carrying a stack of CD-ROMs, calling out "Get your database management systems here!")

    Finally, in some parts of the world, a hawker doesn't necessarily move around. Singapore's hawker centres (to use their BE-based spelling) are fixed locations, usually in permanent buildings, with food stalls - what a Yank might call "food courts." I'm told that other Asian countries use that name for them as well. Perhaps those hawkers sold food from mobile carts at some point in the past, but that would have been before my time.
  6. Miss Julie

    Miss Julie Senior Member

    Chicago metro area
    Vendor is the word I come across the most. I often see peddler (yet another spelling) used as a pejorative; that is, someone who sells something you don't really want.
  7. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    The only common place that I can think of for "hawker" in American English is at a carnival or fair. The person who sells something with a rapid patter presentation is a hawker, to me.
  8. George French Senior Member

    English - UK
    Often items such a drugs. The people who they sell to really want it... It is probably very bad for them, but that is a different issue.

    Pedlar (UK spelling) also has another meaning, a travelling seller of small items. A hawker also..


    These words are in my vocabulary, I wonder when I last really used them?
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  9. Embonpoint Senior Member

    To me, the difference between a "hawker" and a "vendor" is not whether the person moves around or stays behind a booth but whether they are yelling at passersby. "Hawk" to me means to yell out: "Best mattresses in town! Get yours now, 50% off. Don't sleep another night without this mattress!" Certainly, a person who is walking around is more likely to need to do this, but to me even a vendor behind a booth can be "hawking" goods.

    By extension, if you say someone is "hawking" goods, even if it is not on the street, it is a pejorative way of saying that the person is marketing their stuff, with the implication that the person is publicizing the availability of the goods. "He couldn't sell his widgets in the store. Now he's hawking them on the Internet."

    I personally would most often use "to hawk" as a verb rather than a noun to describe a person. A vendor is what I call a person selling goods on the street, regardless of whether the person is stationary or walking. The person is a "street vendor" to me. I also am American and spell it vendor.
  10. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    "Hawk" is a classic back-formation, like "ush." Hearing and seeing the word "hawker," people assumed that it was from the verb *hawk + the agent suffix -er. It wasn't so, but this happened a long time ago and "to hawk" with the meaning described in earlier posts has become established.

    The same assumption has been made, at least in AE, that an usher is "someone who ushes," so a person with an evening job as an usher in a movie theater might beg off from a party, saying "I have to ush tonight." In this case, the back-formation is not an established, "standard" usage, but "to hawk" is.

    Vendor should have the "-or" instead of "-er" ending because it is derived from the Latin verb vendo, vendere, and in Latin the agent suffix is "-or," not "-er." However, SOED is uncertain about whether the etymology is direct from Latin or through French vendre. I think English verbs imported from French commonly add the -er suffix, either to the root or to replace French -eur.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  11. keung Senior Member

    HongKong, China
    Thank all for the opinion, to play safe, “vendor” maybe a better choice if I come across uncertainty. Thank.
  12. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    Purchaser and vendor are the usual terms in English, Irish, New Zealand and Australian real property law. In normal conversation, people will use buyer and seller.
  13. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia

    does the term "vendor" also apply to those who sell burgers, coke, ice-cream etc to the spectators at a game?

    Thank you.
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    See post #5.
  15. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    How can I have missed it? :eek:

    Thank you, Myridon.

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