What is the dialogue?

We explain what the dialogue is, its characteristics and classification. In addition, direct dialogue, indirect dialogue and monologue.

Commonly, by dialogue we understand the reciprocal exchange of information between a sender and a receiver through an oral or written medium. That is, it is a conversation between two interlocutors who take turns in their respective roles of sender and receiver, in an orderly manner.

The word dialogue comes from the Latin dialogus and this in turn from the Greek dialogos ( day -: “through”, and logos : “word”), which literally means “through the word”. This already gives us an idea of ​​how important dialogues have been in the history of mankind, as a tool of mutual understanding, generally as a replacement for violence.

Similarly, the dialogues are part of the literary resources that a work possesses  to show us two or more characters , or to let us know part of the information they exchange, as if we were their witnesses. Therefore, it is common to find them in most narrative artistic representations .

On the other hand, in Antiquity , they constituted the ideal method of teaching and learning between teacher and student, put into practice by the Socratic school, that is, the students of the philosopher Socrates.

literary dialogue external theater types classification
Conversations between characters are external literary dialogues.

The classification of the dialogues is complex, as it depends on in what context they occur.

In principle, we can distinguish between oral and written dialogues . The former occur through the use of the voice and are ephemeral, that is, they belong to the instant they occur. On the other hand, the seconds occur through writing and remain longer, since they can be read again and again.

A second distinction would separate literary dialogues (those that appear in artistic works ) and non-literary dialogues (the rest), which encompasses the following classification:

Literary dialogues . Those that we will find in stories, stories , novels , plays and even movies , and that can be:

  • Internal dialogues . They occur in a character’s head, in his imagination or in his memory, or they can even take place between the character and his inner self.
  • External dialogues . Those who have a character with other characters, and who are part of the plot of the play.

Non literary dialogues . Those who do not have a clear artistic intention, or who are not part of a poetic work, but of real-life situations, or transcripts of it. In that sense, they can be:

  • Formal dialogues . Of planned type, in the absence of affection or close relations between the interlocutors, it usually responds to formulas and protocols of respect .
  • Informal dialogues . They occur in an unplanned way or among people of great confidence, often using slang and colloquial expressions, rudeness, that is, without necessarily preserving manners.
  1. Direct dialogue and indirect dialogue

Within the possibilities of written dialogue, whether literary or not , we find an important distinction, which has to do with direct speech and indirect speech. We refer, similarly, to:

Direct dialogue : It is one in which we can verify what each interlocutor says. They usually use lines of dialogue to separate and mark each intervention of the interlocutors, as in the following case:

─ Have you eaten yet, son?

─ No, mom. I’m not hungry.

Indirect dialogue : The figure of a narrator tells us what each interlocutor says. In other words, all communicative content is referred to us by a third party, as follows:

“The mother asked the son if he had eaten, and he said no, but he was not hungry either.”

monologue dialogue hamlet theater
Hamlet’s monologue is one of the most famous in the history of dramaturgy.

Unlike dialogue, a monologue involves only one participant . That is, it is a “conversation” in which a single interlocutor speaks, either because the other is silent, or because he is not present. This is a very frequent resource in dramaturgy , but it can also be found in the narrative (novels, stories).

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