Every day we engage in hundreds of conversations, ranging from small talk about the weather to deep declarations of hidden feelings. We share our political opinions, debate what to make for family dinner, and argue what's the best movie of all time. And on top of that, we interact with dozens of people. Some are our family, some work in the convenience store around the corner and some are bank clerks in the city center. We’re closer with some and further with others, yet, every time we talk with someone, there is always something in common - voices which intertwine with each other in a harmonious way.
The harmony actually has its roots methodized in linguistic theory. According to Communication Accommodation Theory, we adjust our language based on the people we speak to. Characteristics, such as accent or vocabulary we use, change depending on who we talk to. We may either converge to the way they speak, that is, speak more similar, or actively diverge from them to show our disparateness.
Naturally, there are certain limits as to how much we can alter our language, but it is relatively flexible. For example, an American may have a tendency to make their “r”s less pronounced while speaking to a British person if they subconsciously want to appear more similar to them. On the other hand, they may also diverge to show the difference between their native accent and the British one.
However, whatever any of us chooses, there is harmony in it. Whether we converge or diverge is based on our relationship with other interlocutors. Speaking does not exist in a vacuum - it is fluid and dependent on us and others. Together, we breathe and, intertwined, we sail through the conversation. In this way, dialogue bears resemblance to dancing.
Dance is an art, no matter the artist's skills. Every culture creates a series of beautiful sounds and moves to accompany it. This shows that, in reality, dancing is universal and natural. Although both music and movement are an inherent part of our humanity, they are often buried deep in the shame caused by the absence of talent. However, the need to move and feel the energy is within us and constitutes a part of our humanity. The joy, the release of emotions, and the freedom it gives us, makes dance an important component of our lives. It’s a ubiquitous part of our lives too - when we're engrossed in a conversation, we secretly perform a little dance routine.
In dance, one movement emerges from another movement. We are often in a certain position, and from said position, we can take another step. What's next cannot exist without what's before. And not only that - the way we move also depends on our surroundings. If we dance with someone, we need to be aware of their movements and react appropriately. Each person waits for the move of the other person and responds. They construct their own or attend to the mandated rhythm, with each motion being a memory of the previous one. Yet together, they still create one dance, full of harmony and mutual understanding. They become whole while retaining their individuality.
The same concept is also present in a dialogue. The interlocutors participate in the routine on their own. They make a move and react to the movements of the other person. Just like in a dance, they have to be aware of their surroundings and other dancers on the scene. They carefully navigate the dance floor, adjusting to their dance partner and the audience. The latter one may be sitting quietly and adoring, but it may also be dancing alongside, after all, other dancers may also be the admirers of the dance. In the end, a conversation with another person becomes an intricate dance, with a complicated and nuanced choreography.
We all engage in the creation of arts, despite not necessarily being able to paint or sculpt. The beauty of dialogue lies in this detail - we are all artists, ready to begin our performance. Not only can we communicate our ideas when we speak, but we can do so by participating in a dance routine, gracing the audience with delicate moves.
Painters create paintings, poets write poetry and singers leave behind the music to listen to, however, the dance of dialogue leaves a more personal touch - memories. Our minds are the canvas on which our conversations leave a print, fixed in, and possibly hidden, forever.