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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2013, Issue 195


Types of dialogue: Echo, deaf, and dialectical

David Fishelov
Published Online: 2013-06-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0033


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.

Keywords: dialogue; represented dialogue; conversation; drama; dramatic genres

About the article

David Fishelov

David Fishelov (b. 1954) is an associate professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem 〈 〉. His research interests include genre theory, poetic simile, adaptations of biblical Samson, and intertextuality. His publications include Metaphors of genre: The role of analogies in genre theory (1993); Like a rainfall: Studies in poetic simile (in Hebrew, 1996); Samson's locks: The transformations of biblical Samson (in Hebrew, 2000); and Dialogues with/and great books: The dynamics of canon formation (2010).

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Published Online: 2013-06-07

Published in Print: 2013-06-06

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2013, Issue 195, Pages 249–275, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2013-0033.

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