The dialogue is a chain of linguistic interventions organised in a progressive present, with the speakers face to face in a shared situation. We can find 2 or more speakers in the alternative functions of speaker and receiver.
Every speaker has his own competence, his own presuppositions referred to the knowledge of language, of oneself and of the others. They establish a common frame of references to give sense to the dialogue. The dialogue is conformed by 2 or more speakers who keep their own personal conditions. Both contribute to the textual unity but they do it in a different way.
The dialogue as every use of language is a process which takes place in time and with certain pragmatic conditions:
1. Every subject who participates in the dialogue has his own role, his own specific function and his own way of acting linguistically. These peculiarities can be seen in the general form of the dialogue, in its way of advancing and in the effectiveness it can have.
2. To the verbal acts of the previous section, we have to add the non-verbal actions of the subjects, who can´ t even participate with words, confining themselves to being present which conditions the situation.
3. The topic of the situation which can conform scientific, political, literary, philosophical dialogues or several of them.
4. The progress of the dialogue, depending on the sequence of interventions can be related to a dramatic, relaxed or tense situation. (kind of situation)
5. The interventions of the different speakers advance together with words, gestures, facial expressions, postures and every sign which can come from the situation. The kinesic and paralinguistic relations give way to modifications which wouldn´ t be necessary if they only used words. The advance of dialogues takes place with everything which arises in the situation in simultaneity. A word can be the answer to a gesture or the other way round and a movement can end or interrupt somebody´ s words. The dialogue makes sense with the interventions of all subjects and with the convergence of various kinds of signs.
6. The process of communication gives a message which is known by one of the speakers and not by the others. It will end when it begins the process of information which at the same time will end when the others receive the message. In the dialogue the information which is given by each speaker is incorporate to the knowledge of all of them and it will help the dialogue to go on. They have to speak topically and there is meaning negotiation.
7. The activity of the speakers is parallel because all of them speak and hear in turns but it is also progressive because the interventions are made according to the previous ones. We can´ t intervene in a dialogue taking no notice of what has been said before. Doing this way, we will give the discourse congruence, help it advance to the conclusion and have unity of process.
A dialogue is a process of interaction in which the speaker´ s activity is complementary to the creation of a unique sense during all the process. The dialogue is a fragmented discourse and the order of the interventions is relevant to the discourse. It is an ordered and progressive text with norms of coherence and logic. Even if they have his own personal and situational circumstances, they operate to get the same goal.
Linguistic aspects of the dialogue:
- The dialogue is organised as a chain of enunciations fitted into binary or alternative schemes such as question/answer, proposal/acceptance or rejection, hypothesis/confirmation or falsity, request/assent, agreement, disagreement.
- The grammatical categories that establish the internal relations of a dialogue between the interventions of the speaker and the enunciations are the same as the ones of the monologue: prepositions, conjunctions, concordances, anaphors, verbal tenses and modes. It is very frequent to find ellipsis and substitutions.
- The semantic progression is organised around a central idea and advances towards a conclusion that closes the dialogue, either in a direct form or with fragmentations, recurrences and nuances.
- The unity of sense is obtained either by a direct form or by thematic deviations which can illustrate or contrast the central idea, because although the dialogue is not as open as the conversation, it is not so rigid so as not to admit variants in its plan.
- The logical coherence is based on the general schemes of expression.
ü The passage from the general to the particular
ü The induction from particular data to a general statement
ü The succession of presentation, knot and denouement.
- The linguistic analysis of a dialogue is centred in its nature of direct discourse (feature that shares with the monologue) and of segmented discourse (feature that shares with conversation). The dialogue is a sequenced discourse due to the alternative interventions of the subjects and a direct discourse due to the face-to-face situation in which it takes place.
Characteristics of the dialogue:
- There is a frequent use of personal deictics more than in any other kind of discourse (that´s due to the fact of being direct discourse)
- There is a higher frequence of spatial and temporal deictics. (that´s due to the fact of being direct discourse)
- There is a predominance of verbal tenses referred to the world which is being commented on, that is, the ones referred to the present temporal axe, f.i: the simple present, the future and the present perfect. (that´s due to the fact of being language in situation)
- There is a predominance of references with direction to the receiver: interrogative, exclamative and exhortative sentences with which we require the action or the attention of the person to whom we are speaking. (that´s due to the face-to-face situation it takes place in the dialogue)
- There is a high frequence of references to the value we attach to things: nouns and verbs positively or negatively marked, adjectives of value, intentional distribution of the sentence to underline the term referred to value. (that´s due to the fact of being direct discourse)
- The frequent use of metalanguage so as to nuance, clarify, correct oneself at the moment of speaking and precise when we see that the person to whom we are speaking to hasn´ t understood or needs more information. There is a frequent use of the fatic function (that´ s due to the face-to-face situation)
- As in the dialogue we have at least a preference of 2 interlocutors, the development of the text will take into account that each interlocutor has his own way of verbalising, a personal codification and contextualization, even if they agree previously on the conditions of the dialogue. So we can speak of a double verbalisation, a double codification and a double contextualization.
Ways of incorporating dialogue to discourse:
There are 4 ways of incorporating the dialogue to discourse:
1. Direct speech: What is said by each character is reproduced exactly with the same words used by each speaker. What is said is placed outside discourse by means of punctuation marks. It depends on a verb of saying: answer, reply, say, tell, ask etc.
ü John got up and said: “ I want my book now”.
- Sometimes we can omit the verb of saying and we have Free Direct speech. We distinguish it from direct speech because there is no backshift in verbal forms.
ü John got up: I want my book now.
- Indirect speech: We make a reference of what has been said by someone using grammar techniques of nominal subordination or indirect questions: that and if or whether with the backshift verbal forms if it refers to the past.
Sometimes we can alternate direct and indirect speech.
ü John got up and said that he wanted his book then.
- Free indirect speech: What is said or thought appears as a reference inside discourse without any mark or introductory verb of saying. We recognise it by the backshift and changes in pronouns.
ü John got up: he wanted his book then.