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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 7, 2013

Types of dialogue: Echo, deaf, and dialectical

David Fishelov
From the journal Semiotica


In order to offer a typology of dialogue that captures the complex and multifaceted nature of dialogues, we should take into account two factors: (1) the basic kind of interaction between the two interlocutors; the wide variety of specific interactions can be grouped under three general headings: echo-dialogue, whereby one participant repeats what the other has said; dialogue-of-the-deaf, whereby the two participants neither listen to nor understand one another; and dialectical-dialogue, in which the two participants are able to listen to and understand one another, albeit representing different points of view or sentiments. (2) The second factor is the distinction between the outer and the inner level of dialogue. This distinction characterizes any semiotic phenomenon, and derives from the distinction between linguistic form and content. The article argues that there is no automatic correspondence between the kind of interaction that occurs on one level and that taking place on the other. By using only these two factors we gain a systematic and elegant typology of dialogues that enables us to offer nuanced descriptions of a wide range of dialogical interactions in literary texts, notably in drama – as illustrated in the article.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Published Online: 2013-06-07
Published in Print: 2013-06-06

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston

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