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Dialogue vs. Dialog

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If you were a novelist or a playwright, what word would you use to describe a conversation between two or more characters in your work? Are you writing dialogue or dialog between them? Or is there any difference at all?

In this post, I want to outline the different uses of these two words. I will use real-world examples from newspapers and magazines to demonstrate their meanings, and I will advise you on how to use them in the future. After reading this post, you shouldn’t have any more trouble with dialog vs. dialogue.

Origin:

The word dialogue originated from Middle English: from Old French dialoge, via Latin from Greek dialogos, from dialegesthai ‘converse with’, from dia ‘through’ + legein ‘speak’.

Dialogue as noun:

Dialogue is used as a noun in English language where it means a conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or film.

The book consisted of a series of dialogues.

Dialogue as verb:

Dialogue is sometimes used as verb in English language too where it means to take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.

He stated that he wasn't going to dialogue with the guerrillas.

Use of dialogue:

Dialogue functions as a noun and is defined as conversation between two or more people. Dialogue was originally used in literary or theatrical contexts but has become something of a buzzword in politics since the 1960s. In this sense, it approximates the meaning of negotiations between diplomatic contacts of two nations. While this use was initially met with objections, it has become well established in Modern English. When referring to conversation between two characters in a movie or two representatives in government, dialogue is the preferred spelling in both American and British English.

Examples:

In a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, MEND indicated the former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, on Friday contacted it on the planned dialogue with Niger Delta groups. (The Premium Times)

Changing our hearts is critical to rooting out our prejudices and initiating candid dialogue about race and policing in our country. (The Columbia Dispatch)

A two-day meeting of the Task Force on Sino-Tibetan Negotiations held in Dharamshala, India, with a very strong commitment for peaceful resolutions to the issue of Tibet through dialogue with the Chinese government. (The Tibet Post)

Use of dialog:

Dialog is a variant of dialogue, used primarily in American English in computing contexts. Dialog is rarely used in British English, whether the context be computing or conversation. You should only use dialog in computational contexts and/or the phrase dialog box.

Examples:

They don’t know that a piece of software needs an update unless it creates a dialog box telling them so. (The Atlantic)

City, police leaders call for dialog in addressing protesters’ issues (The Commercial Appeal)

Tupelo Mayor: Justice Dept. to help dialog about police shooting (The Clarion Ledger)

Dialogue or dialog:

Is it dialog or dialogue? Dialogue is the preferred spelling in American and British English for all contexts related to conversation and the exchange of ideas. Dialog, in American English, has a specific use in computational contexts and the phrase dialog box is universal. Here’s a helpful trick to remember the difference. Dialogue is used to refer to speaking and conversation. Dialogue, speaking, and conversation all have the letter “E” in them. Dialog is only used in the phrase dialog box. If you can remember this trick, you will be all set.

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"Dialogue vs. Dialog." Grammar.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 17 Nov. 2017. <http://www.grammar.com/dialogue_vs._dialog>.

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