It’s the audio version of #TheDress.
An audio file has the internet divided. Three years ago, #TheDress and the color of the particular dress sparked a massive debate on the internet, and now it seems a simple audio clip with the words ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’ (depending on what you hear) are dividing the internet once again.
guys help me out, does this dress say yanny or laurel pic.twitter.com/Tl2lfZKYBS
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) May 15, 2018
According to The New York Times, the clip picked up steam after a debate erupted on Reddit last week, and it has since been circulated widely on social media. Chloe Feldman also shared the clip on Twitter and Instagram, along with a poll on whether people hear ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’:
What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I
— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018
Some Twitter users weighed in, saying “this is still just repeating laurel yall are liars”.
But others say they clearly hear ‘Yanny’:
“Yanny….I listened 10 times and can’t figure out how anyone hears Laurel.”
According to The Atlantic, the poll on Feldman’s Instagram revealed ‘Yanny’ to be in the lead with 51% of the vote. Another Instagram account, @KFCRadio, also added the poll to their Instagram story. ‘Laurel’ was winning that one with 53%.
So why are people hearing two different things? Chelsea Sanker, a phonetician at Brown University says the clip isn’t ‘prototypical’ of either ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’. It’s actually somewhere in the middle.
“The l/y discrepancy might come from the fact that the sound there isn’t velarized—the speaker’s tongue isn’t touching the back of their soft palate (the velum), as many American English speakers do when they say an l,” Sanker explained to The Atlantic. “The middle consonant is definitely not a n but you might hear one because the vowel in front of it sounds particularly nasal.
“People who hear ‘Laurel’ are hearing a syllabic l in the second syllable, which has some similarities to the vowel sound at the end of ‘Yanny’. Both are sonorants – you could go on singing them until you run out of air, as opposed to an obstruent like p or t.”
Apparently one of the more interesting things to come out of the debate was the discovery that, by changing the pitch of the recording, you could adjust what you heard. In general, people heard ‘Yanny’ more consistently when the pitch was lower and ‘Laurel’ when the pitch was higher.
But, other things can reportedly also influence your interpretation of the clip, including your dialect and whether you listened to the recording over a speaker or headphones.
Ok, so if you pitch-shift it you can hear different things:
down 30%: https://t.co/F5WCUZQJlq
down 20%: https://t.co/CLhY5tvnC1
up 20%: https://t.co/zAc7HomuCS
up 30% https://t.co/JdNUILOvFW
up 40% https://t.co/8VTkjXo3L1 https://t.co/suSw6AmLtn
— Steve Pomeroy and ? others (@xxv) May 15, 2018
Read: The internet can’t figure out if this outfit is turquoise or grey
Even some celebrities weighed in on the debate:
Literally everything at my show just stopped to see if people hear Laurel or Yanny. I hear Laurel. https://t.co/efWRw1Gj0L
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 15, 2018
it's so clearly laurel. I can't even figure out how one would hear yanny.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 15, 2018
And the Police…
Please don't call 911 to ask if we're hearing "Laurel" or "Yanny". The only thing we hear is the creation of another bad hashtag. (And Laurel. We're definitely hearing Laurel).
— Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) May 16, 2018
Some are trying to go viral themselves:
after hearing yanny and laurel i thought of trying my own… the results will SHOCK you? pic.twitter.com/0iMHDmiDC0
— noikki (@HELLOimNoikki) May 16, 2018
So, what do you hear?
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