Abstract: Human conversation has a particular structure that bears no resemblance with any other known communication system. People’s talking comes in two forms: narratives and collective argumentative reasoning. This characteristic conversational structure cannot be fortuitous. Conversation is a costly behaviour, if only by the time and energy it demands. Surprisingly, there have been few attempts to relate conversational structure to any function it may have. This chapter illustrates conversational structure with examples and explores the issue of its purpose.
Keywords: conversation, narratives, argumentation, evolution, biological function