Can you correct the dialogue, please?
-Hello! How are you?
-Fine, thanks. And you?
-Me too. Thanks.
-What have you been doing today?
-Well, Iíve done loads of things I planned to do today.
-Does it mean that youíve finally bought the television we saw in ďDixonsí a few weeks ago?
-Yes, it does. I finally decided that it was worth the money.
-Great! Can I look in on you to take a look at it right now?
-Iím afraid not. My children are still asleep now and I donít want us to wake them up.
-So when will I be able to call on you next time then?
-I could manage Saturday next, OK?
-By the way, what do you think about going for a picnic at the end of the month?
-Thatís a good idea! I think Iíll be free then and if you really want to go Iíll try to persuade Jane to join us.
-What about the children?
-Theyíre enjoying their holidays now.
-When do their holidays end?
-In about 3 weeks, so I wonít have any problem with them. Furthermore, theyíve wanted to go somewhere for over two months. Theyíll definitely like your idea.
-Itís already 1.45! I must fly now. My lunch hour ends at 2 and Jack will do his nut if Iím late.
-Right, Iíll phone you one of these days to confirm if weíre coming. Catch you later! Bye!
Thanks a lot!
W- Hello.. Wilma?
W- How are you? This is Alice.
A- Oh hi, Alice. Fine, thanks. And you?
A- Are you busy?
W- Well, Iíve done loads of things today.
A- Did you finally buy that television we saw in Dixons?
W- Yes. I finally decided it was worth the money.
A- Great! Can I come over and see it?
W- Not now! The kids are still asleep.
A- So when are you free?
W- How about Saturday?
W- By the way, what do you think about going for a picnic at the end of the month?
A- Thatís a good idea! I think Iíll be free then. Iíll see if Jane can join us.
W- What about the children?
A- Theyíre on holidays now.
W- When do their holidays end?
A- In about 3 weeks, so they're no problem. Besides, theyíve wanted to go somewhere for over two months. Theyíll definitely like your idea.
W- Oh! Itís already 1.45! I must fly. My lunch hour ends at 2 and Jack will do his nut [NEVER HEARD THIS IDIOM] if Iím late.
A- Right, Iíll phone you in the next couple of days to let you know if weíre coming.
W- Great. Bye!
A- Catch you later-- Bye!
Thanks a lot for polishing my dialogue up.
What about this one?
A. Hello! This is Ann. Can I speak to Bob, please?
B. Hold on, please. Iíll call him.
A. Hello, Tom here.
B. Hi, Tom, how are you keeping?
A. Very well indeed, thank you. And you?
B. Iím fine, too, thanks.
A. I havenít heard from you for over a month! Not even one lousy phone call! Whatís the matter with you? You know perfectly well that Iím desperately busy now and canít phone you myself.
B. Iím really sorry for not phoning you for so long. I very much wanted to but always forgot. You could have sent a message to remind me to phone you. I believe you had some time on it, didnít you?
A. ĎCourse, I did! I thought you had a better memory.
B. Donít keep on nagging!
A. Youíre right. So what have you been up to since we last talked?
B. Frankly, I havenít been doing anything unusual. Normal day-to-day routine.
A. Didnít you go to Ireland? It seems to me you were going there.
B. Yes, I was but Jessica suddenly got ill, so we had to put our holiday off for some time. Weíll probably go somewhere next month. Can you advise us something? I remember you going to Spain last year. Did you like it there? You seemed to get back very happy then.
A. I wasnít *very* happy! I was extremely happy with my trip to Spain. Itís a lovely place to go to on holiday. But thereís too much sun in Spain and as far as I remember your wife doesnít bear sun, does she?
B. Doctors recommended that she would try to keep away from sunny and hot places on account of her frequent headaches the last time she went to hospital. (went to hospital Ė I think Iíd better substitute it for some other word but for what?)
A. She might start going in for some sport Ė fitness, for one.
B. She doesnít like such things. She likes skiing but there's no snow in England.
A. Iíve just come up with a good idea. Iím sure youíll both like it. I remember going to Switzerland a few years ago. There are a huge number of ski resorts and no heat at all at this time of a year there. Sheís gonna like it!
B. Thereís one problem still to solve Ė weíll need to find a travel agency offering such trips.
A. Iíll ask my colleagues about it. If I succeed in getting some information which might be useful for you Iíll let you know.
B. OK. I have to go. My secretaryís saying that thereís someone on another line for me. Iíll phone you the next copule of days. Bye-bye!
Good morning, Flash. The main difficulty with creating natural conversations is that we are creating them rather than transcribing them. Most textbook conversations therefore are too verbose and too grammatical-- they are written English, not spoken English. Written English is by its nature more formal than the spoken language, and it is the preconceived completeness and structural correctness of the dialogue that makes it seem contrived. On the the other hand, verbatim transcription of a real conversation is often muddied by 'uh's and 'erm's to the extent that it is difficult to follow. You must strive for a happy medium. In your current conversation, these close friends are being too formal; that is one focus of my changes:
A. Hi! This is Ann. Is Bob there?
B. Hold on. Iíll call him.
B. Hi, Bob, how're you keeping?
A. Good, thanks. I havenít heard from you in over a month! Not a lousy phone call!
B. Iím really sorry. I've wanted to but always forgot.
A. So what have you been up to?
B. Nothing unusual. Normal day-to-day routine.
A. Didnít you go to Ireland? I thought you were going there.
B. Yes, I was, but Jessica suddenly got ill, so we had to put off our holiday. Weíll probably go somewhere next month. Where should we go? You went to Spain last year-- did you like it there? You seemed happy when you got back.
A. I wasn't 'very happy'-- I was extremely happy! Itís a lovely place. But it's very sunny in Spain. Your wife doesnít like the sun, does she?
B. The doctor said she should try to keep out of the sun and heat, on account of her frequent headaches.
A. Has she tried any indoor sports -- like fitness?
B. Uh-uh, she doesnít like stuff like that. She does like skiing, but there's no snow here!
A. Hey-- I went to Switzerland a few years ago: lots of ski resorts and no heat at all at this time of a year. She'd like that.
B. Do you know a travel agency that offers Swiss tours?
A. I'll ask around at the office. If I find out anything, I'll let you know.
B. Great, thanks. Oh, I have to go. Thereís someone on another line. Iíll phone you back in the next couple of days. Take care. Bye.
A. You too. Bye.
The whole argument about who should phone whom is a bit rude and unnatural for these two friends, even in jest-- I took it out completely. Your original text does too much 'explaining'. These are close friends who are familiar with each other's lives, personalities and interests, and each speaks in short sentences and phrases from which the other can easily understand what is intended.
Thank you for making my dialogue more informal. I see that I should try to write more informal dialogues but I know that it's rather hard for a non-English to invent such dialogues because he doesn't usually know many informal words, expressions etc. In my view, you should live in an English-speaking country to know all these words. Reading books containing lots of informal dialogues are not great help to me, as they're usually very specific whereas I want to be able to write and express my own thoughts. You speak English everyday, so you remember all these phrases. I, in my turn, can't speak English every day since I don't have any native speakers to talk to here. Learning English on your own is always tough because you cannot sometimes understand why you should use only one particular structure or word but not any other. If I tried to write real conversations I would definitely do much worse since my speech (I mean in my first language) is full of very informal and sometimes, I have to admit, offensive words and expressions and it's very difficult to translate such stuff into English without being able to consult with a native speaker. What's more, in real life we very often make mistakes and don't even know that we do. I fully agree with you that most textbook conversations leave much to be desired partly because of the fact that their authors try to cram their textbooks with a large amount of grammar completely forgetting about the necessity of studying 'real language'. That's rather confusing, I guess
I think you did an admirable job in your two dialogues, Flash. My comments were not meant to criticize your efforts, but to give you pointers for further dialogue work.
Colloquial conversations in English too are often full of questionable language that can be used only among close friends; that of course we must exclude when mimicking authentic language for teaching purposes, as we must the many lexical or structural mistakes (actually, native speakers don't make so many grammatical mistakes) that are a part of real conversation.
You might try to create the effect of natural conversation by including the occasional stutter or internal revision, like:
A: Hey, Jack! Long sime no-- long time no see.
B: Geo--George! What a surprise!
A little bit of this goes a long way to making a dialogue seem more natural.
Thanks, I got it. I'll probably try to keep your advice in mind when writing some dialogue next time. I see that your comments were not meant to criticize my efforts.
That's a British one. Seeing as you aren't English, you didn't understand it. BTW, do you know what it means? I'm fascinated to learn whether an American (or a Canadian?) can understand British idioms.
Here's another example of this idiom:
If I'm late home my Mum will do her nut!
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