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When you call customer service and reach a real human, chances are people will end up talking to someone outside of the US about a home issue.

It’s no secret that many companies outsource their customer service to call centers around the world. Sometimes it’s the rep’s accent that lets the customer know they’re not in the United States.

But one start intends to completely hide foreign accents.

It’s a controversial idea, creating a new debate around accents: On the one hand, it could help protect workers from discrimination. On the other hand, skeptics say it could actually exacerbate existing problems of discrimination.

Accent training for call centers is already standard procedure. Workers are usually trained in a number of different English accents. The BBC reported on a company that trained workers in both speaking their accents and understanding accents, such as New York, Jamaican and even medieval English accents.

One of the apparent advantages of using technology which neutralizes accents means it could save companies from a rigorous training process. The other major objective is to protect workers against discrimination.

One of the founders of Sanas, who is a former call center worker, told the Guardian: “I built this technology for agents because I don’t want him to go through what I went through. “.

Not surprisingly, call centers are magnets for all sorts of accent discrimination from callers. Accents are an important factor in how people perceive identity and form biases. They can be associated with cultural contextnationality or even class and education.

Some research has shown that accents may play an even bigger role in how humans judge based on their appearance and how humans react differently to non-native accents: In one study, native English speakers rated recordings of different accents when saying statements such as “Ants don’t sleep”, but results showed that English speakers viewed statements with the heaviest accents as the least true. In other words, they trusted them less.

It might be easy to cite studies like this as proof that accent bias is simply unavoidable, but experts say it’s more like the reverse: Stereotypes are what shape how we react to certain accents in the first place.

Some studies show that native English speakers in the United States trust British accents more than Indian accents, regardless of their strength, or that Mexican and Greek accents were considered “less intelligent or professional” than people using English. standard American English.

It’s not just the United States Many countries in Europe, such as Sweden or Denmark, have dialects called “street language” or “street dialects”. But these are often used by immigrant communities and are considered “less refined”.

Some language experts suggest that exposure to more accents may actually help combat harmful stereotypes, which goes back to why some critics have raised eyebrows about call center technology.

It may seem that erasing accents and identity might be a step backwards for some, but not for others like call center workers, who might find some relief in technology like this- this.

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