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Sit down in a public place. Close your eyes and isolate one persons voice. Listen to that person for several minutes and formulate an image of them. Now without being obvious, look at that person for the first time.  What were your impressions of that person?  How did you imagine that person to look?  What were your impressions of their character?   How did those impressions compare to reality?  What gave you those impressions?  How did your impressions compare with reality?  Share examples, of course.
 
Before I do this assignment where I listen to another persons voice and form an impression on them, I believe it is important to discuss my own background because this activity is based on stereotyping, scheme, and having preconceived notions to form a character solely based on speech. Knowing my background will help both me and anyone knowing this creates a mental map 1 to understand why I am coming to certain conclusions and why they may not be the most positive when pertaining to language. I am a Chinese person born and raised in the bay area, so at home, I would spend a lot of time with traditional Chinese individuals, and at school, I would spend time with a diverse group of individuals, which included mostly Mexicans and other Latin groups. 
 
Traditional Chinese culture is very patriotic, but it is patriotic in a way that demands uniformity and often leads to bringing down others to uplift themselves. There is no shortage of language prejudice 2 and linguistic discrimination 3 in Chinese culture. For example 1, if you do not speak mandarin, even if they are your family, they will talk down to you and make sure you know their displeasure even with a language barrier. These traditional Chinese individuals have no doubt that Mandarin is the superior language to all and even other Chinese individuals. For example 2, Chinese culture is no stranger to complaint tradition 4 as often individuals who speak a Chinese dialect or have different accents when speaking Chinese are often talked down upon and sometimes even called country bumpkin because Mandarin is spoken in all major Chinese cities. It is in the countryside or less urbanized areas where dialects are more widely spoken. Thus the combination of growing up with family members that have strong negative language attitudes 5 and friends at school who were language insecure 6, for example 3 my Spanish speaking peers often stopped speaking their native language altogether because of negative media portrait of their culture, my perception of language is constantly changing and subconscious stereotyping is something I need to work to combat. 
 
Moving on to the assignment, I was on the bus going back home when I observed someones voice to gain an impression on them. Someone behind me was talking loudly, breaking my focus when I was sending emails on my phone so I thought it would be a good time to guess their character. Closing my eyes I listened to the voice, it was a feminine voice speaking to someone over the phone loudly. Her voice was fast-paced and high pitched gossiping about her friends’ relationship issues. She had a Hispanic accent and would every so often curse at her friend in Spanish. 
 
My first impression of the woman was definitely negative because I was on the bus for over half an hour and she continuously talked about multiple friends’ relationships loudly. Usually, the expectation is to not speak on the bus or wait to call someone back. I was annoyed and tired of her constant chatter. But at the same time, her sounding like the girls from my old high school made me have negative associations with her character, thinking that she was immature and must be around my age when she was older. For example 4, in high school, there was a group of Mexican girls who would gossip about who was sleeping with whom and they did it in the same loud manner as the bus woman. I imagine her as a small, maybe curvy girl around my age or younger with makeup and jewelry. I connected her character to individuals I previously knew with some loose pieces of information I derived from her linguistics immediately.  In reality, from what I could tell on the outside, she was what I expected for the most part except age and physical attributes. 
 
Getting off the bus, I was able to get a look at her. She was a small thin and lanky lady, with heavy makeup; still on the phone as I left. She was Latino with straight hair and carrying a big bag. This was somewhat what I had expected. For example 5, she would roll her Rs which is typical in Spanish. This leads me to assume she is Mexican in addition to knowing Mexicans being the highest Latin American ethnic group in California. I did not expect her to be in her late twenties nor did I expect her to be thin and lanky. The Mexican girls I grew up around and knew at school were curvy in addition to being short, thus the physical nature of the bus woman was what surprised me the most. 
 
This experience made me realize more about myself when it comes to stereotyping. But it also made me realize how fast I draw connections from personal experiences compared to common knowledge or teachings. For example, I instantly thought of the bus woman as immature and young when talking about others, as I was young when meeting girls I perceived were similar to her, much faster than I thought that maybe she is a good friend to confide in as my psychology classes have taught me friends are good forms of accessible therapy. In this way, I saw my mind perform in negative ways faster than positive. 
 
To combat stereotyping or biases I needed to realize this was a problem and I discovered this through an extracurricular of mine. I was in a program that had diversity and sympathy for others as their mission statement. From them, I took an implicit bias test and a matched-guise test 7. For example 6, the implicit bias test would match items quickly to discover connections such as if you associated a certain race with income level. For the matched test, it was much more embarrassing in a sense realizing how ingrained my own attitudes or prejudice could be. This assignment definitely made me think back to these biased discoveries, but in a real life situation. For example 2, her cadence was fast paced, more than what we usually hear in English where the sentences are often at one speed. This told me she probably speaks a different language because speech speed is often learned from an early age and stays with you through life. That in turn made me think of her status 8, because I assume wealthier people do not have accents that are noticeable. All of these examples of stereotyping from my past experiences with others to think she is Latino, specifically Mexican even though there was no way for me to tell that just from looking or listening to her. Later on in university I learned that, in life biases and schemes are frequently seen as bad things, but they often help you think faster in logical situations or are used as a biological means to keep you safe from harm. For example 7, stereotyping red berries as poison prevents you from death, in this scenario having a scheme is the difference between living longer or dying. In terms of linguistic stereotypes that create a character in your head, it may be important to know if someone is sounding like they are lying to you, for example 8 fast speech or stuttering abnormally, but when it comes to accents in individuals, it is important to remember that people may be completely different from what you initially expect from them and you shouldnt hold it against them.