So Which Is It REALLY: Laurel Or Yanny? Science Has The Answer

The latest debate to divide the nation has nothing to do with gun control, human rights or a color-changing dress (which is white-gold, by the way). It’s all in a name. Actually two. Laurel and Yanny.

On Tuesday, Twitter erupted into a frenzy of name-throwing when social media influencer, Cloe Feldman, posted the following:

And while the source herself claims that she hears Yanny, it’s obviously Laurel. Sorry, Cloe, but even Ellen, Chrissy Teigen, and James Cordon agree with me.

Yes! James! We will not be silenced!

But Cloe is not the only one to hear Yanny, and all I can say is “…happening?!” Stephen King, Piers Morgan and Mindy Kaling are all team Yanny.

My kids? Yeah. They’re crazy, too. They hear Yanny, which could explain why they never seem to hear me.

Then there are the people who just can’t seem to make up their minds. One minute it’s Laurel, the next minute it’s Yanny. To these people I just have to say, get your hearing checked. Clearly, it’s Laurel.

Or is it? According to a number of theories that have emerged over the debate, it’s actually both, depending on the frequency that you hear. Typically people hear “Yanny” when the pitch is lower and “Laurel” when the pitch is higher.

According to Brad Story, Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing at The University of Arizona, the way it was recorded has something to do with it. In an interview with CNN, he states, “Part of it involves the recording. It’s not a very high quality. And that in itself allows there to be some ambiguity already.”

He also said that you have to take into consideration which device people are listening to it on, be it mobile phones, computers, head phones, tablets, etc.

To get to the bottom of the controversy, he ran an acoustic analysis on the recording.

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. 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.

Say what? He further explains:

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.

Because it’s Laurel, people.

The crazy thing is that even the experts can’t seem to agree. While Story states that “most likely the original recording was ‘Laurel,'” Brown University phonetician Chelsea Sanker says in an interview with The Atlantic that it is neither one nor the other, but it is somewhere in the middle. (It’s Laurel.) When listening to the recording, Sanker “[could] not hear it as having ls at all.” Um, no.

The debate rages on. Which it shouldn’t. Because clearly, Laurel.

Oh, and these shoes? They’re pink and white. Not grey and teal. In case there was any doubt.