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DVD Smith
1284196.  Wed May 16, 2018 5:38 am Reply with quote

[Bit of a broad topic - could cover everything from debates to family disagreements right up to wars - but here we go.]

The world is currently arguing over an audio illusion - whether a recording posted online says "Laurel" or "Yanny".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-44136799

Turns out, what you hear is dependent on which frequency your ears are trained to hear. Those who hear "Yanny" are hearing the higher frequencies, while those hearing "Laurel" are hearing the lower frequencies.

https://twitter.com/JFLivesay/status/996585941241401346
https://twitter.com/MBoffin/status/996562598815416321

At the links above, someone has filtered out the higher/lower frequencies so you can hear each side.

The debate has brought back memories of The Dress, where the whole world had a huge debate over the colour of a dress in a Scottish bridal shop - is it blue-and-black or is it white-and-gold?



The explanation for this is a combination of the exposure of the photograph and a version of the Checker shadow illusion. This image on Wikipedia does a fantastic job of explaining why people see one or the other and how it can be both.


Last edited by DVD Smith on Wed May 16, 2018 6:53 am; edited 3 times in total

 
Baryonyx
1284197.  Wed May 16, 2018 5:52 am Reply with quote

Argh you beat me to it!

I definitely heard 'yannie' originally but with the bass turned up I get Laurel

 
Brock
1284199.  Wed May 16, 2018 6:03 am Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:
[Bit of a broad topic (could cover everything from debates to family disagreements right up to wars), but here we go.]

The world is currently arguing over an audio illusion - whether a recording posted online says "Laurel" or "Yanny".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-44136799

Turns out, what you hear is dependent on which frequency your ears are trained to hear. Those who hear "Yanny" are hearing the higher frequencies, while those hearing "Laurel" are hearing the lower frequencies.

https://twitter.com/MBoffin/status/996562598815416321

At the link above, someone has filtered out the higher/lower frequencies so you can hear each side.


It also appears to depend, at least to some extent, on what equipment you're using to listen to the clip. They've been playing it, on and off, for the last couple of hours on Radio 5 Live and asking listeners which word they're hearing. Some of them have been saying that they get a different word over the radio from the one they get over the internet, or over their mobile phone. Some listeners have said that they get one word the first time they listen and a different word subsequent times. Some of them are reporting "yearly", "yummy" or "yearning" rather than "yanny" (understandable since "yanny" isn't an actual English word), but no one's getting any alternative to "laurel". (I can only hear "laurel".)

There are all sorts of theories flying around at the moment but it appears to be a superposition of two separate synthesized voices. The two words are so different phonetically that I can't see how the sounds of one could be made to resemble the other. Incidentally, one listener reported that he could hear both words at once.

 
DVD Smith
1284203.  Wed May 16, 2018 6:16 am Reply with quote

Brock wrote:
Incidentally, one listener reported that he could hear both words at once.


When I first heard it (using my phone speaker) I could hear both - it sounded like "Yanniel" to me but couldn't train myself to hear only one or the other until I heard the edited versions.

 
tetsabb
1284221.  Wed May 16, 2018 9:29 am Reply with quote

And there was me, thinking this was going to be about crossbow bolts.....

 
Spud McLaren
1284264.  Thu May 17, 2018 4:16 am Reply with quote

Baryonyx wrote:
I definitely heard 'yannie' originally but with the bass turned up I get Laurel
"Waar-weh" here.

 
Spud McLaren
1284265.  Thu May 17, 2018 4:18 am Reply with quote

tetsabb wrote:
And there was me, thinking this was going to be about crossbow bolts.....
Or curved firebricks, which have evolved from being called quarrels to being called quarls.

 
Spud McLaren
1284266.  Thu May 17, 2018 4:19 am Reply with quote

Edited to remove repeat of previous post.


Last edited by Spud McLaren on Thu May 17, 2018 5:15 am; edited 2 times in total

 
'yorz
1284269.  Thu May 17, 2018 4:48 am Reply with quote

Spud McLaren wrote:
Baryonyx wrote:
I definitely heard 'yannie' originally but with the bass turned up I get Laurel
"Waar-weh" here.

Initially I hear "Laurel", but when I listened via a different source, it was a very clear "Hee-aye". Always been an oddball, moi.

 
Alfred E Neuman
1284274.  Thu May 17, 2018 6:14 am Reply with quote

Laurel.

 
AlmondFacialBar
1284281.  Thu May 17, 2018 8:01 am Reply with quote

'yorz wrote:
Spud McLaren wrote:
Baryonyx wrote:
I definitely heard 'yannie' originally but with the bass turned up I get Laurel
"Waar-weh" here.

Initially I hear "Laurel", but when I listened via a different source, it was a very clear "Hee-aye". Always been an oddball, moi.


They were talking about that on the radio this morning and apparently the way the word is pronounced in the snippet, it's perfectly possible to hear all kinds of things from it, so you're not necessarily an oddball for that. The reason why most people hear either Yanny or Laurel is because thanks to the original video's caption they're expecting to hear one of them. If there was no suggestion of that the speaker is saying, people would quite likely hear a lot more different things.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Brock
1284309.  Thu May 17, 2018 11:44 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:

The reason why most people hear either Yanny or Laurel is because thanks to the original video's caption they're expecting to hear one of them. If there was no suggestion of that the speaker is saying, people would quite likely hear a lot more different things.


You may have a point. I didn't see the original video's caption - the first time I heard it was when it was played on Radio 5 Live yesterday. Without any prompting, I thought it was "moral". After the presenter (Anna Foster) gave the two options, I chose "laurel", and from then on I could hear nothing else.

As I mentioned above, several listeners opted for "yearly" (or other similar-sounding words) instead of the non-word "yanny". Initially, Anna Foster somewhat dismissively rejected those responses on the grounds that they weren't one of the options on offer, although she later admitted that that might not have been an appropriate thing to do.

Do we know who devised the illusion? I'd be interested to know why they chose a word and a non-word as the two options, given that speakers of English are naturally primed to hear speech sounds as English words rather than non-words.

 
DVD Smith
1284313.  Thu May 17, 2018 11:54 am Reply with quote

The voice clip comes from the recording of the word "laurel" on vocabulary.com, according to this NYT article.

In that article the NYT have also built their own slider tool so you can gradually change frequency and identify the point where you can hear both words at once. They're also recording the data to get an idea of the most common frequency at which people change from one to the other.

 
Brock
1284316.  Thu May 17, 2018 12:14 pm Reply with quote

Interesting - thanks. I also found this article on wired.com explaining where the clip came from. It's not a computer-generated clip - it was actually recorded for Vocabulary.com (along with 36,000 other words) by an opera singer in New York in December of 2007, a member of the original cast of Cats on Broadway, and it was found unwittingly by a teenager:

Quote:
On May 11, Katie Hetzel, a freshman at Flowery Branch High School in Georgia, was studying for her world literature class, where "laurel" was one of her vocabulary words. She looked it up on Vocabulary.com and played the audio. Instead of the word in front of her, she heard "yanny."

"I asked my friends in my class and we all heard mixed things," says Hetzel. She then posted the audio clip to her Instagram story. Soon, a senior at the same school, Fernando Castro, re-published the clip to his Instagram story as a poll. "She recorded it and put it on her story then I remade the video and posted it," says Castro. "Katie and I have been going back and forth and we both agree that we had equal credit on it."


The back-story is even more interesting than the clip itself!

 
Spud McLaren
1284318.  Thu May 17, 2018 12:23 pm Reply with quote

DVD Smith wrote:
The voice clip comes from the recording of the word "laurel" on vocabulary.com, according to this NYT article.

In that article the NYT have also built their own slider tool so you can gradually change frequency and identify the point where you can hear both words at once.
I can identify the point from which "laurel" is not the only interpretation, but even swinging the pointer hard right gives me "yearly" - no "yanny" at all.

 

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