The Rules of Talk


Another thing that always fascinated me about the pub is the special type of ‘banter’ that one encounters there – sometimes difficult to decipher at first. Becoming familiar with these special codes … establish you as an ‘insider’ – someone with special membership of a distinct community.

Kate Fox, the anthropologist (The Enduring Appeal of the Local, Report of Research. SIRC, 2008)

We tend to think of rules and laws as unpleasant things, imposing limits and restrictions on our behaviour, inhibiting our natural spontaneity and creativity. Yet the unwritten rules governing pub-talk are not restrictive or inhibiting, quite the opposite. Like all other aspects of pub etiquette, they are designed to promote sociability. If anything, they encourage more verbal exchanges, more communication, than would otherwise occur among the naturally reserved natives.

Even if you are fluent in English and claim to be an expert in a history of England, you will bite the dust striking up a conversation and will find some pub talks utterly incomprehensible, unless you study the choreography of pub-colloquy.

The Rules of Talk features some essential instructions on:

  • How to make contact?
  • Who should we make contact with?
  • What to talk about?
  • How to act in a heterogeneous company?

 With the hidden rules of chat and banter untangled you will now be able to learn the “grammar” of the native dialect of a pub-talk, to detect its patterns and feel the rhythms. Altogether with special terminology you will find it easy to participate in the various forms of choreographed pub-talk, the most popular activity in all English pubs, moreover, you will be able to decode the secret messages of regulars and publicans, the people who are the cornerstones of a pub-habitat.