Yanny or lau­rel? Let your ears de­cide

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Opinion -

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’.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.