I get frustrated with people who speak differently than I do. Dialect, vernacular, language… these heavily-researched social science topics become lumpy and gray in my mind, but, at the end of the day, I still don’t always enjoy conversing with someone who doesn’t speak the way I do. Being from the South, with a strong dialect myself, this is quite a problem, not only for me, but I assume for others as well.
Let me first take a moment to explain how horrible this is, and how much I am embarrassed to be honest about this. I think my frustration mostly rises from feeling like I’m not understanding something, and therefore, I must be dumb or slow. However, spending a cursory amount of time looking at sociolinguistics, it seems that prejudices based on dialect are a real thing, and very much affect not only our day-to-day communications, but the way we perceive social status in ourselves and others.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how prejudice comes from inexperience. Also about how a lack of communication causes misunderstanding, which leads to violence. The first step to empathy is patience and attention, which led me to think a lot about really listening to others.
Which leads me to the Dialector, a headset that trains the ear to appreciate differences by allowing the user to hear everything with a certain dialect for the duration of wear. A microphone is located on the outer ears of the headset– a typical speaker within. The headset itself translates the input, leaving the user with the experience it takes to really understand a dialect different than their own.
This is interesting to me, coming from a rather small town with little diversity. Maybe it would still allow people to communicate and understand others, even when the local dialect is homogenous.