By Eric M. and Jackson K.
The debate started when Georgia student Katie Hetzel had the word “laurel” on her vocabulary list. She visited dictionary.com to find the definition of the word and played the audio clip.
She was astounded at what she heard: a robotic voice saying the word “yanny!” She showed the clip to her friends and got mixed answers to whether they heard “yanny” or what was meant to be heard from the website: “laurel.”
She posted this on social media, and another student at her school reposted it, and from there, the audio clip went viral.
Many people have argued and debated over the clip. “Laurel and Yanny are the horsemen of the apocalypse” said Twitter user Sarah Sahim. Another Twitter user, IndoBoiHusam, tweeted that “people who hear yanny: Intellectuals[,] Can carry on a conversation[,] IQ over 150[,] beautiful[,] Rich ans Succesful [sic] people who hear laurel: wrong.”
Vocabulary.com even got in on the action, editing their definition of “Yanny” to “a word or phrase that is capable of distracting the entire internet for at least 24 hours. Yannies usually cause an extremely intense but brief disagreement between opposing groups. This dispute might include the sense that adversaries are living on a completely alien planet, one where colors appear different and words, even when spoken in the same language, sound utterly unfamiliar” and, nobody disagrees about what is said this time, changing the voice of the word “Yanny” to “Laurel.”
The YouTube video “Do You Hear ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel?’ (SOLVED with SCIENCE)” by AsapSCIENCE is #1 on trending as of May 17th. This video claims that if you change the pitch of the original recording up 30%, you can hear “Yanny” every time, while if you turn it down 30%, you can hear “Laurel” every time. It claims that the original recording actually says “Laurel,” but for some people, different speakers or quality of ears can alter what you actually hear, and so some people distinctly hear the voice say, “Yanny.”
According to a Twitter poll, 47% of people hear “Yanny,” while the other 53% hear “Laurel.” This result without a definitive answer is rather unsatisfying.
This debate is remarkably similar to the white and gold versus blue and black dress debate, where some people saw the former combination of colors, while others could only view the latter. People debated about the picture until the company who manufactured the dress confirmed that it was actually blue and black.
The “Yanny” and “Laurel” debate that is dividing the nation is just like that debate that occurred three years ago, except instead of arguing about color, now it is about sound.
What could be the next viral argument? Something about the other senses: taste, touch, or smell? In this world where weird and random things can go viral, anything is possible.