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Speaking or talking was the process of communicating with one's mouth and vocal cords. Small talk was the process of speaking about unimportant topics to get to know someone or to fill in an unwanted silence.
The Cairn were physically capable of speaking, but preferred to use telepathy. When they wanted to join the United Federation of Planets, they began to learn to speak in order to communicate with species incapable of telepathy. (TNG: "Dark Page")