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Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


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What is the purpose of small talk?

Some people find it useless, but some say small talk is used for gauging trust in strangers.

What is the purpose of small talk?

Topics: small talk

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  • Jun 24 2012: Sometimes goes by the name of gossip or phatic communication, chewing the fat, you might say.

    Do you remember the Louis Armstrong song, "it's a Wonderful World"? There's a part in there that goes "people saying 'How do you do?' when they really mean 'I love you.'"

    Thus, small talk can be heard as "I'm alive still. How about you?" It's also called ticking over, as in when we listen to a fridge or a really quiet motor or a baby breathing.

    The really funny part is I think this constitutes half or more of language use. Why? I mean what is the motivation? Pure play, to have fun. Actually, there's usually mixed motivations. Kids play with food while they eat it. We prepare a beautiful meal and then eat it. Why does a bird sing? Yes, maybe it's a mating thing, a warning about some danger nearby, or maybe she's singing because she likes to. I even think the play factor is primary.

    It elevates your question. It's one of those human things that computers can't do.
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      Jun 24 2012: Exactly James!

      Computers are interestingand I am envious at their logistics plus those algorithms, but we aren't computers, even though some people are robotic-like....

      Why can't we just say "Hey, I like you, want to date?", but we say "Hi, it has been nice meeting you, see you around." and we think "Hopefully, they want to see me again, and next time I'll ask her out.". I wonder how computers would talk if they had to mate?

      Gossip is difficult for me to call because gossip is generally talk about basic people superficial topics about physical features and their history of rumors. I am hoping that small talk can be productive, but generally I feel that it is usually gossipy.

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