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What exactly does "'get to know you' banter" mean in this phrase:

Emma arrives. Their dialogue consists primarily of the usual “get to know you” banter.

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  • What part don't you understand? The phrase "get to know you" is enclosed in "scare quotes" to indicate that it's being used in a way that goes beyond the bounds of standard syntax (specifically, it's a "verb phrase" being used as an adjective). Such usages are often hyphenated as well as / instead of being "air quoted". Do you understand "I want to get to know you", for example? Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 18:13
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    Also known as small talk. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 18:19
  • Thank you @YosefBaskin, your explanation was clear.
    – Moha
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 19:05
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    Please add detail of what you don't understand. Please tell us the source of the quote. In it's current form, it is not suitable for English Language Learners
    – James K
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 19:35
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    @FumbleFingers Or maybe they know both, but didn't understand how get to know you banter fits together grammatically.
    – gotube
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 20:22

1 Answer 1

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To "get to know" somebody means to spend time with them, usually talking about your lives, interests and views.

The adjective version of this verb is "get-to-know-you". The "you" doesn't refer to anyone in particular. It's just a word acting as the object of "know" so it sounds better.

In that quote, it should have been hyphenated, rather than put in quotes:

Emma arrives. Their dialogue consists primarily of the usual get-to-know-you banter.

It's an adjective that modifies "banter". Together, "get-to-know-you banter" means the type of conversation that's common when getting to know someone, so topics like, family status, occupation, personal interests, recent events, sports, politics, etc.

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  • I think it's a stylistic choice whether to "scare quote" or hyphenate (both seems excessive, though) On the first page of matches in Google Books for stick in the mud person there were two or more hits for three orthographies: hyphenated, quoted, and unpunctuated (none for hyphenated and quoted, praise be! :) Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 22:28

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