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This is a short audio track that I discovered, and quite enjoyed.  A gentleman not voicing his opinion, moreover he is sharing an anecdote which shows his opinion.

The title?  What has happened to the human voice?

Before listening… what do you think the man will address with his story?

Before you read or listen, think about just that:  What HAS happened with the human voice?

  • Do you have a say in things?
  • Do you like to give your opinion?
  • Do you think the article is about anything different?  About what?

Most importantly, how would you apply this to your work situation?

After the transcript, this “conversation” continues.


Studs Terkel (ST)

ST: What has happened to the human voice? Vox humana. Hollering, shouting, quiet, talking, buzz. I was leaving the airport, this is in Atlanta. You know you leave the gate, you take a train that took you to the concourse of your choice. And I get into this train — dead silence. A few people seated or standing. Up above, you hear a voice, that once was a human voice, but no longer, now it talks like a machine. Concourse one: Fortworth, Dallas, Lubbock — that kind of voice. Just then the doors are about to close, pneumatic doors, one young couple rush in and push open the doors and get in. Without missing a beat, that voice above says, ’Because of late entry we’re delayed 30 seconds.’ The people looked at that couple as though the couple had committed mass murder you know. And the couple was shrinking like this, you know. Now I’m known for my talking — I’m gabby — so I say, ’George Orwell, your time has come and gone.’ I expect a laugh… dead silence. And now they look at me, and I’m with the couple, the three of us, are at the Hill of Calvary on Good Friday. And then I say, ’My god, where is the human voice?’ And just then there’s a little baby… maybe the baby’s about a year old or something. And I say ’Sir or Madame,’ to the baby, ’what is your opinion of the human species?’ Well what does the baby do? The baby starts giggling. I say, ’Thank god, the sound of a human voice.’


In this case, the observations had more to do with the automation and lack of personalisation of the services which surround us.  Well – I stand to be corrected – lack of humanisation of the services surrounding us.

Personally – I can’t stand calling someone and having to spend what seems like ages answering automated messages in order to finally get (speak) to the person.

And you?

Where do you most notice the lack of humanisation with a service which you use with frequency?  This is a very specific question, perhaps you would like to broaden the scope, feel free to.  For example – an apartment building using a general service vs. hiring their own doorman (so to say – perhaps janitor – but not really – I’m referring to the position of the “portero”).

Going back to the matter of applying this to your work situation.  Are there any processes which you feel should not have been personalized?

In Elingua, our job is to try and automize everything that can and should be automised.  However, it is, in our opinion, of utmost importance that training be personal.  Everyone should have an opportunity to use their voice.

Do you not agree?

Anyways – I’d love to hear your stories – go ahead and share!  If you’d like correction – as always: