This Is The Last Time We’ll Talk About Laurel And Yanny

In what Texas Standard promises will be our last word on the subject, a linguist sorts out why people hear the sound differently.

By Laura Rice & Joy DiazMay 18, 2018 7:05 am

As Twitter users around the globe argue about the internet kerfuffle over whether the sound you hear is “Laurel” or “Yanny,” Texas researchers may have a better explanation than most as to why some people hear one thing while others hear another.

Daniel Scarpace, a senior lecturer in linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington says it’s not as simple as whether different people can hear different ranges of frequencies.

He lays the blame with the original audio file, which contains distortion.

“It seems that some listeners are paying attention to some of this distortion, causing them to think that it’s actually ‘Yanny’ versus ‘Laurel’ especially at the beginning of the sound,” Scarpace says.

Some people are also falling victim to preconceptions, Scarpace says, hearing one of the two words the meme suggests to them.

“The acoustics don’t really suggest ‘Yanny” at all,” Scarpace says. “They suggest ‘Laurel.’”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.