Much is being written about how voice search and the Internet of Things (IoT) will change SEO. Interesting as these speculations are, as a writer, I’m even more intrigued by how these things will affect language itself.
Voice commands are convenient. It’s easier to ask Siri than peck out a text inquiry on a mobile device, and easier to tell your microwave how to cook the chicken than punch buttons on a control panel. Voice-driven technologies will continue to advance, which means that as time goes on, we’ll be spending as much time talking to computers as to people. Maybe more.
Technology favors convenience just as much as humans. With technology, we usually call it efficiency rather than convenience, but it amounts to the same thing. It’s more efficient to program a voice-driven technology to handle one language than 50. It’s more efficient to have precise definitions for a small pond of words than nuanced definitions for an ocean of them.
So, human languages could be in for a consolidation, going the way of emojis and emoticons. Voice-driven technology will push us toward simple, universal terms that can be quickly and (for the most part) accurately grasped by people and computer programs alike.
In the 1800s, Esperanto emerged as an attempt to create an international language. If the official Esperanto website is any indication, it is not exactly on the cutting edge.
If Esperanto has not been a roaring success, it’s because in the past, the advantages of an international language were largely theoretical. Today, with voice-driven technology, the advantages are practical. The average person is unlikely to give up his or her native language in pursuit of a theoretical goal. He or she is more likely to do so if it makes a Google search or meal preparation more convenient.
Over to You
The day may come when people connected to technology are all speaking the same language. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Losing the uniqueness, beauty and history of our languages would be a sad development. I would rather see technology adapt to multiple languages even if it is the less efficient option. Is this wishful thinking?
- How do you see all of this unfolding?
- How are voice search and IoT affecting your marketing strategy now?