Yanny or laurel? Let your ears decide
A VIRAL audio clip that is sweeping the world — in which listeners hear either the word ‘‘yanny’’ or “laurel’’ depending on the individual — is being debated by scientists.
They have found older people are more likely than younger ones to hear ‘‘laurel’’. But it could depend on where you are listening to the recording, as a bass-heavy car stereo can change which word you detect.
Stranger still, people who hear ‘‘yanny’’ are more likely to hear a woman’s voice, while those who hear ‘‘laurel’’ will hear a man. Whichever word you hear, the debate dominated offices and living rooms yesterday, with celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry weighing in.
The phenomenon has echoes of the argument that arose in 2014 when people quarrelled over whether a dress posted on Twitter was gold and white or blue and black.
Academics have provided a range of explanations for the auditory illusion. Valerie Hazan, professor of speech sciences at University College London, said: “The issue is that this speech does not quite fit into the auditory patterns you expect for these two words.
“So your brain is trying to find a ‘best fit’.’’