It’s the audio illusion that divided the Internet. Was it Laurel or was it Yanny?
First shooting to the fore last week, the short clip of a person saying one of those two names caused chaos. Some heard one word, others heard the other, and some could switch between the two, drawing obvious similarities to The Dress.
The exact cause of this difference isn’t entirely clear. Some have suggested that it may be the result of the bass on your speakers. Raising or lowering the volume can apparently trigger the switch from one name to the other.
Others have said this is a “perceptually ambiguous stimulus”, meaning that the brain can’t decide which one is right. Your age may play a factor in deciding which one you hear, as could the word you’re actually expecting to hear.
One researcher is even conducting a survey to try and get to the bottom of it. Pascal Wallisch from New York University told IFLScience he would be conducting a study to try and settle Yannygate once and for all.
This does beg the question though, what was the voice that originally said the word actually saying? That, my friend, has been answered.
The recording was made by 64-year-old actor-singer Jay Aubrey Jones for the website Vocabulary.com. They were looking for people to say words into a microphone to help teach people new words. And on this occasion in 2007, they asked Jones to say quite a few, including this one: Laurel.
“I recorded my batch of words,” he told Time, “and I thought that was that.”
Yes, that’s right. The original word spoken was “Laurel”, which makes the Yannygate thing all the weirder. It wasn’t recorded with an illusion in mind, but merely one of thousands of words in a day’s work.
Jones, for his part, mostly hears Laurel, although he said he can also hear “a slight trace of ‘Yanny’”. And he said it made him laugh that people were so interested in the recording, considering “all the things that are going on in the world right now.”