A Unix program and protocol supporting conversation between two or more users who may be logged into the same computer or different computers on a network. Variants include ntalk, ytalk, and ports or emulators of these programs for other platforms.Unix has the talk program and protocol and its variants xtalk and ytalk for the X Window System; VMS has phone; Windows for Workgroups has chat. ITS also has a talk system. These split the screen into separate areas for each user. Unix's write command can also be used, though it does not attempt to separate input and output on the screen. Users of such systems are said to be in talk mode which has many conventional abbreviations and idioms. Most of these survived into chat jargon, but many fell out of common use with the migration of user prattle from talk-like systems to chat systems in the early 1990s. These disused talk-specific forms include: "BYE?" - are you ready to close the conversation? This is the standard way to end a talk-mode conversation; the other person types "BYE" to confirm, or else continues the conversation. "JAM"/"MIN" - just a minute "O" - "over" (I have stopped talking). Also "/" as in x/y - x over y, or two newlines (the latter being the most common). "OO" - "over and out" - end of conversation. "\" - Greek lambda. "R U THERE?" - are you there? "SEC" - wait a second. "/\/\/" - laughter. But on a MUD, this usually means "earthquake fault". See also talk bomb.
Last updated: 1998-01-25