This question concerns the terminology for a conversation between two people. If we froze a conversation in time there would be one person who was doing the talking and one person who was listening. Are there english terms for 'the person who at this point is talking' (at a specific point of the conversation) and 'the person who at this point is listening'? In other words, if A were the active talker and B was the active listener both participants would take on the role of A and B interchangably over time. Are there english equivilent words for A and B?

  • 3
    What's wrong with talker/listener (or speaker/listener)? Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 10:37
  • Welcome to English Language & Usage. For this (and other) single-word requests, would you please provide a sample sentence with a blank to fill in? And perhaps some words you tried and why they did not work?
    – rajah9
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 12:16
  • Talker/listener has no implication that the person is engaged in a conversation. They could be listening to the radio or talking to the wall. The answer below fits what I was looking for perfectly.
    – Paul Larke
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


These concepts are precisely defined in telecommunications world, and I think you can reuse them here. In following definitions, you can replace device by person.

From rfwireless-world.com

Transmitter definition: The device used to transmit signal from one place to the other is known as transmitter.


Receiver definition: The device which decodes the transmitted information from the received signal is known as receiver.

A device (or person!) that is a combined transmitter & receiver is a transceiver.

Also regarding the mechanism, where you describe only one person transmitting at a time and the other receiving this is half duplex

Simplex communication is a communication channel that sends information in one direction only. The International Telecommunication Union definition is a communications channel that operates in one direction at a time, but that may be reversible; this is termed half duplex in other contexts. A duplex communication channel requires two simplex channels operating in opposite directions. — Wikipedia

Though If your two people talk over each other, i.e., speak simultaneously then it’s full duplex.

  • Thank you, that's exactly what I was after.
    – Paul Larke
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 20:26

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