Small talk in Arabic medical encounters

A conversation analytic study


  • Rula Ahmad Mahmoud Abu-Elrob Independent scholar



conversation analysis, forms and functions of small talk, medical talk, small talk


Small talk (ST) refers to talk that is seen as space filling or aimless because of its non-goal-oriented purpose in comparison with work-related talk. This article examines ST in Jordanian medical encounters to explore the sequence structure in which ST occurs in combination with goal-oriented talk and the different forms and contexts of its occurrence. The framework of conversation analysis is used to analyze naturally occurring data, in particular exploring how talk orients to and departs from the medical agenda. The findings reveal both the forms and functions of ST in the dataset. The findings show various aspects related to ST: compliments, joking, laughter and ST linked to personal biography. This study offers insights into Arabic medical interaction in terms of the occurrence of ST, and it offers the possibility of designing training courses to employ ST as a communication technique in medical encounters.

Author Biography

Rula Ahmad Mahmoud Abu-Elrob, Independent scholar

Rula Ahmad Mahmoud Abu-Elrob received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Huddersfield (UK). Her research interests include conversation analysis, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. she has extensive teaching experience at tertiary level and has taught several courses in linguistics. She has published a book titled Gender Differences in Using English Writing Strategies: Cognitive, Metacognitive, and Socio-affective Strategies (2012, Lambert Academic Publishing).


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How to Cite

Abu-Elrob, R. A. M. (2021). Small talk in Arabic medical encounters: A conversation analytic study. Communication and Medicine, 17(1), 4–16.