Let's Talk: How English Conversation Works

ISBN : 9780198850694

David Crystal
224 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jul 2020
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  • An entertaining and accessible introduction to English conversation
  • Includes a wide range of examples drawn from classic literature, TV, politics, and more
  • Dispels some common misconceptions about how conversation works

Banter, chit-chat, gossip, natter, tete-a-tete: these are just a few of the terms for the varied ways in which we interact with one another through conversation. David Crystal explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation.
We tend to think of conversation as something spontaneous, instinctive, habitual. It has been described as an art, as a game, sometimes even as a battle. Whichever metaphor we use, most people are unaware of what the rules are, how they work, and how we can bend and break them when circumstances warrant it.


1: Greetings!
2: In the beginning...
3: A thousand years of conversation
4: Exchanges
5: Taking turns - or not
6: Interrupting
7: What we talk about
8: How we talk about it
9: Taking it easy
10: Story-telling
11: Stylistic options
12: The vocal and the visual
13: Conversation as theatre
14: Online 'conversations'
15: Cultural conversations
16: Breaking the rules
17: Does conversation change?
18: #Almost done

About the author: 

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012), Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain (with Hilary Crystal, 2013), The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation (2016), and The Story of Be: A Verb's-Eye View of the English Language (2017).

"A useful addition to an English teacher's armoury and certain to pique students' interest in the language that happens all around them, all the time... Let's Talk is a powerful statement about our species and the centrality to it of conversation in all its collaborative glory." - Nikolai Luck, Teaching English

"For Crystal, the aim of a conversation is to make everyone happy or, at least, satisfied at the end ... [he] has definitely achieved that." - Training, Language & Culture

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