Viral News

Yanny or Laurel? The new debate setting the internet alight

Surprisingly, your answer actually tells you a lot about yourself.

People are only just recovering from the emotional divide caused by the dress that 'broke the internet' (was it white and gold or blue and black?), and now there's a new internet phenomenon here to break the internet in half.

Cloe Feldman, a vlogger from the US, had no idea the havoc she would create when she posted a short clip to her social media platforms this week.

The video contained a short audio clip of an unusual computerised voice saying a name.

"What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel?" the post asked.

And just like that, the internet broke in two.

What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel?

Personally, when I listened with one set of ear phones I heard "Yanny" very clearly, and then when I switched to a different pair, I could only hear "Laurel".

So what's going on and what does it all mean?

There are many theories about the different responses.

Dr Patricia Keating, a linguistics professor and the director of the phonetics lab at U.C.L.A., told the NY Times that the reason could be related to the age of the listener, with some sounds and frequencies only being heard by people under 25.

Audio experts have spent time playing with pitch and addressing the frequency theory.

Listen to the example from Twitter user @EarthVesselQuotes which breaks down the audio below.

Elliot Freeman, a perception researcher at City University of London, told the NY Times that our brains could selectively tune into different frequency bands once we know what to listen out for, "like a radio."

"What one hears first depends on the how the sound is reproduced, e.g. on an iPhone speaker or headphones, and on an individual's own 'ear print' which might determine their sensitivity to different frequencies," he said.

This theory would explain why I (and others) heard different things using different speakers.

There may never be a definitive answer why we hear different things - but at least we can all agree that the voice says, "Laurel".

Right?