Dear Crabby, What Do You Hear, Yanny or Laurel?

Dear Crabby, What Do You Hear, Yanny or Laurel?

Sincerely, Larry Yanel

 

Dear Larry,

First of all, I’d have to be listening to hear anything. Second of all, I’d have to care. Thirdly, I would have to know what you’re talking about. So, being a good journalist, I went to the internet.

Yanny or Laurel? That is the question – one of those is the answer – or is it both? Well, for those of you who don’t know (like I didn’t know), this auditory-illusion question came up when someone heard the vocabulary.com audio pronunciation of “laurel” and thought they had heard something different. They were confused, it didn’t sound like “laurel” to them. They recorded it and asked on social media, “What do you hear?”

Dear Crabby sits infront of his laptop

Dear Crabby Gives Advice

A national debate ensued. People everywhere were weighing in on what they heard. Some heard “laurel” and others heard “yanny.” The original recording, done years ago by voice-actor Jay Aubrey Jones, said (and hears) “laurel.” And that should end the debate … but it doesn’t.

Just less than half of those who listen to that recording hear “yanny.” The two words really don’t sound anything alike. Yet, half of the people surveyed hear the wrong word. Here’s a little English lesson for you yanny people out there, “laurel” is a word, “yanny” is not – there’s your first hint. Your second hint should be the recording is on the page for the definition of “laurel.” And finally, once I put my earing aids in and took a listen, it’s clearly “laurel” and I know what I’m talking about. I may not be an expert on the English language – I’m an expert on giving advice – however I know what I hear (most times).

The science folks tell us that sure enough, some people will hear different sounds for the same words. It depends on the device, it’s settings, and the shape of your ears. If you play with the treble and bass, you can get the sounds to change. But no matter what I tired, I just heard “laurel,” over and over again.

By the way, if you’re wondering, A laurel is a wreath worn on the head, usually as a symbol of victory. And just for fun, vocabulary.com has now added a definition for the other word, A yanny is a word or phrase that is capable of distracting the entire internet for at least 24 hours. When you “drop a yanny,” you start a contentious debate on some type of public forum. To add further to this confusion, the new word entry uses the same recorded audio pronunciation as the original word.

Thanks for the question Harry, Barry … I mean Larry.

Sincerely, Dear Crabby

About Dear Crabby

Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at [email protected].

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