Yanny or Laurel?


Amia Nettles, Staff Writer

Just like the notorious “dress” that debuted on February 26, 2015, where some viewers argued that they saw a white and gold dress, while others saw a black and blue dress, social media is now buzzing over a short audio clip that features a man saying either “Yanny” or “Laurel”.

The original recording was created by Brad Story, Prefessor of Speech, Language, and Hearing. Eighteen-year-old student, Roland Szabo, was the first to post the audio clip on the social media platform Reddit.  The audio became viral after YouTube and social media star, Cloe Feldman, posted it on her Instagram and Twitter on May 15, asking, “What do you hear – “Yanny” or Laurel?”

So what is the clip actually saying, you ask? Technically, the original audio is saying “Laurel” and came from a vocabulary website. Chelsea Sanker, a phonetician at Brown University, explains that the voice does not speak in normal or familiar speech patterns, so it makes the audio clip more difficult to break down and understand.

According to dogonews.com, the recording is “ambiguous” meaning “open to more than one interpretation or having a double meaning.” Since the clip is ambiguous, it forces our brains to come up with a conclusion or decision as how it’s supposed to sound based on previous experiences.

 Other experts, however, believe that the difference in hearing might be an age issue. Since adults start to lose their high-frequency range when they get older, they would most likely hear “Laurel”, whereas younger people would probably hear “Yanny’.

Another proposed reason for the difference is the sound quality of the device on which someone is listening. PhD student at Harvard and MIT, Dana Boebinger, who studies auditory perception, tweeted, “The main reason I suspect people hear this differently is because different headphones and speakers filter the frequencies of the sound in different ways.”

Needless to say, the clip says “Laurel” but since the audio clip “broke the internet,” there have been other audio clips shared, that tricks the mind to believe it says one thing or another. For example, there is a video swarming around the internet featuring a hand pressing a green light up toy and a deep voice saying either “Brainstorm” or “Green needle,” depending on what you tell your mind to hear. Whether its dresses, audio, or toys, the internet will always have something fun and interesting to debate.