Like the famous dress photo that went viral in 2015 when no one could agree whether the garment it showed was white and gold or blue and black, two seemingly unrelated words “Yanny” and “Laurel” are threatening to split the internet in half.
On Tuesday, Cloe Feldman, a social media influencer and vlogger, posted a seemingly obvious question on her Instagram story, which she then cross-posted to Twitter: “What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel?”
To explain the phenomenon Brad Story, Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing at The University of Arizona, ran an acoustic analysis on the viral recording of the computerized voice. He also recorded himself saying “Yanny” and “Laurel,” for comparison.
“When I analyzed the recording of Laurel, that third resonance is very high for the L. It drops for the R and then it rises again for the L,” he said. “The interesting thing about the word Yanny is that the second frequency that our vocal track produces follows almost the same path, in terms of what it looks like spectrographically, as Laurel.”
OK, so what does that all mean?
“If you have a low quality of recording, it’s not surprising some people would confuse the second and third resonances flipped around, and hear Yanny instead of Laurel.”
Watch below for an in depth explanation: