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Standard Scripts and rejoinders

Posted by Ward on February 09, 2005

Our language has a series of snippets of dialog which are almost standard. A friend said to me today "this getting old is a bitch" to which I replied, "yes, but it's better than the alternative'. Transaction completed!
What are these things called; these mindless phrases which simply provide a connection so that other conversation can start.....is there a name for this?