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Conversation is interactive communication between two or more people.
The development of conversational skills and etiquette is an important part of socialization. The development of conversational skills in a new language is a frequent focus of language teaching and learning.
Conversation analysis is a branch of sociology which studies the structure and organization of human interaction, with a more specific focus on conversational interaction.
No generally accepted definition of conversation exists, beyond the fact that a conversation involves at least two people talking together. Consequently, the term is often defined by what it is not. A ritualized exchange such as a mutual greeting is not a conversation, and an interaction that includes a marked status differential (such as a boss giving orders) is also not a conversation. An interaction with a tightly focused topic or purpose is also generally not considered a conversation. Summarizing these properties, one authority writes that “Conversation is the kind of speech that happens informally, symmetrically, and for the purposes of establishing and maintaining social ties.”
From a less technical perspective, a writer on etiquette in the early 20th century defined conversation as the polite give and take of subjects thought of by people talking with each other for company.
Conversations follow rules of etiquette because conversations are social interactions, and therefore depend on social convention. Specific rules for conversation arise from the cooperative principle. Failure to adhere to these rules causes the conversation to deteriorate or eventually to end. Contributions to a conversation are responses to what has previously been said.
Conversations may be the optimal form of communication, depending on the participants’ intended ends. Conversations may be ideal when, for example, each party desires a relatively equal exchange of information, or when the parties desire to build social ties. On the other hand, if permanency or the ability to review such information is important, written communication may be ideal. Or if time-efficient communication is most important, a speech may be preferable.
Conversation involves a lot more nuanced and implied context that lies beneath just the words.
Conversation is generally face-to-face person-to-person at the same time (synchronous) – possibly online with video applications such as Skype, but might also include audio-only phone calls. It would not generally include internet written communication which tends to be asynchronous (not same time – can read and respond later if at all) and does not fit the ‘con’=’with’ in ‘conversation’. In face to face conversation it has been suggested that 85% of the communication is non-verbal/body language – a smile, a frown, a shrug, tone of voice conveying much added meaning to the mere words. Short forms of written communication such as sms are thus frequently misunderstood. Yet the convenience and apparent control makes them increasingly popular now that many people seem to prefer to communicate via short text or Facebook post and/or ‘like’ than actually meeting face to face.
Face to face conversation is increasingly deemed less important when people have already seen all the relevant news about the other person they have already shared online. Also people would typically never say face to face some things they might easily write with the apparent impunity of anonymous online posts. To this extent the decreasing popularity of face to face conversation can be seen as a loss to society and civility.
“Banter” redirects here. For the BBC radio show, see Banter (radio show).
Banter is short witty sentences that bounce back and forth between individuals. Often banter uses clever put-downs and witty insults, misunderstandings (often intentional), zippy wisecracks, zingers, flirtation, and puns. The idea is each line of banter should “top” the one before it and in short a verbal war of wit without any physical contact.
Films that have used banter as a way of structure in conversations are:
The Big Sleep (1946)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Important factors in delivering a banter is the subtext, situation and the rapport with the person. Every line in a banter should be able to evoke both an emotional response and ownership without hurting one’s feelings. Following a structure that the involved parties understand is important, even if the subject and structure is absurd, a certain level of progression should be kept in a manner that it connects with the involved parties.
Different methods of story telling could be used in delivering banter, like making an unexpected turn in the flow of structure (interrupting a comfortable structure), taking the conversation towards an expected crude form with evoking questions, doubts, self-conscientiousness (creating intentional misunderstandings) or layering the existing pattern with multiple anchors..