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To talk to or to talk with?

 

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  #1  
Old August 09, 2012, 08:47 PM
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To talk to or to talk with?

Advice and corrections needed here: "To talk with" sounds somehow wrong to me, and I always try to use "to talk to", but I've been hearing this often from fellow-students in a course I'm taking. They haven't been corrected by teachers, so I'm confused here... are they both correct? Do they have different meanings?

Thanks for the help.
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  #2  
Old August 10, 2012, 12:21 AM
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They are both correct, but have different uses.

"Coffee Kitten talked to Angelica" implies a more one-sided dialogue, wherein Coffee Kitten was the speaker, and Angelica was the listener.

e.g. The teacher talked to the students. (This implies that the teacher did most of the talking, and the students did most of the listening.)

The president talked to the nation.

It could also mean that the observer (i.e. whoever is saying the sentence, "Coffee Kitten talked to Angelica") wishes to focus on Coffee Kitten as speaker, regardless of whether the dialogue was one-sided or not.

e.g. The principal talked to his parents. (Regardless of whether there was an equal exchange of words, the observer wishes to focus on the principal as a speaker, perhaps to emphasize that it was the principal who has a message for the parents.)

The lady talked to her son over the phone. (As a third party observer, who saw the lady -- and not the son -- I did not witness the conversation... only one of the speakers. Therefore, I focus on the lady as a speaker, and I use "to".)

I talked to him over the phone. (I prefer to focus on myself as the speaker, and on the fact that I had something to say to this person, rather than on the fact that I had an exchange of words with the other person.)

"Coffee Kitten talked with Angelica", on the other hand, implies a conversation and an exchange of ideas, and sounds more "equal-sided."

e.g. The teacher talked with the students. (The observer wants to highlight that there was an exchange of ideas between the teacher and the students.)

The principal talked with his parents. (Again, it highlights the conversation between the principal and the parents.)

I talked with him.

etc.
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Old August 10, 2012, 01:47 AM
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Total agreement.
Good explanation!
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Old August 10, 2012, 06:53 AM
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I agree, but additionally I would like to add the word speak.
In many ways talk and speak are interchangable, but
I believe to talk to and to speak with are the most common usages.
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Old August 10, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poli View Post
I In many ways talk and speak are interchangable, but
I believe to talk to and to speak with are the most common usages.
I would have agreed with you, but the BNC doesn't back it up:

talk to: 4122
talk with: 334
speak to: 2020
speak with: 221

Also, I'm not sure that the difference between talk to and talk with is as clear as the post above has suggested, although the explanation is generally a good one. Particularly with talking to somebody on the telephone, if I say something like "My wife is talking to a friend on the telephone" I don't see that the focus is anywhere. It is a neutral statement that there is a conversation going on between her and somebody else. It does not focus on her (even though she is probably doing most of the talking ).

In other situations, as stated, there is a difference:

The police were talking to my brother
My brother was talking to the police

In these cases, the subject is the one which is probably more in control.
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Old August 10, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Thank you all!! Input from everyone has given me a clearer idea on both combinations.


@Kitten: It makes sense, thank you for the detailed explanation.

@Poli: Thanks! That's what my old teachers had taught me (but more in terms of a rule than as a matter of frequency of use).

@Perikles: Wow!! That's rather interesting and also makes a lot of sense.
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