‘Laurel’ or ‘Yanny’? People can’t decide

Laurel and HardyImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption “It’s definitely Yanny, Laurel.”

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a “laurel”. Or a “yanny”. No one can decide.

A widely shared audio clip has divided the internet into two warring tribes – those who hear “yanny” and those who hear “laurel”.

The rival factions, the Yannies and the Laurels let’s say, have been locked in a bitter battle for aural supremacy since at least Monday, when Reddit user RolandCamry – the anonymous harbinger of internet meltdown – posted the clip online.

‘Laurel’ or ‘Yanny’? People can’t decide
‘Laurel’ or ‘Yanny’? People can’t decide

After the video migrated to Twitter, the armies’ numbers swelled. In the last 24 hours, “yanny” has been mentioned more than 310,000 times. The Laurels are currently edging it with closer to 330,000 uses of the word.

Skip Twitter post by @CloeCouture

What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel

— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018

End of Twitter post by @CloeCouture

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Model Christine Teigen – who better to lead the Laurels into battle? – nailed her colours to the mast with a swipe at the Yannies.

Skip Twitter post by @chrissyteigen

it’s so clearly laurel. I can’t even figure out how one would hear yanny.

— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 15, 2018

End of Twitter post by @chrissyteigen

“It’s so clearly laurel,” she roared to her 10 million followers, possibly all the while bedecked head to toe in chain mail of gleaming bronze.

“I can’t even figure out how one would hear yanny,” she continued.

Lining up alongside her, one Stephen Fry – broadcaster, British national treasure and Laurel fo’ life.

Skip Twitter post by @stephenfry

I’m puzzled that anyone can hear #Yanny – I hear #Laurel very clearly. It’s not visual like the McGurk effect (– O can’t even begin to hear #Yanny

— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) May 16, 2018

End of Twitter post by @stephenfry

YouTuber Logan Paul struck the first, inevitable blow of the wars to come.

Skip Twitter post by @LoganPaul


— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) May 16, 2018

End of Twitter post by @LoganPaul

But the Yannies are a proud and noble band. They refuse to let such blasphemy pass unchecked. And when their need was greatest, the hour at its latest, up stepped Toronto councillor Norm Kelly with a veiled threat to “clean” the Laurels’ ears out.

The subtext could not be clearer – this was obviously a warning to the Laurels that their ears would be removed and worn as trophies around his neck.

Skip Twitter post by @norm

If you hear Laurel, clean your ears out.

— Norm Kelly (@norm) May 16, 2018

End of Twitter post by @norm

Skip Twitter post by @4evrmalone

You either die a Yanny or live long enough to see yourself become a Laurel.

— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) May 15, 2018

End of Twitter post by @4evrmalone

Fortunately, just when all seemed lost, a ray of hope was glimpsed.

A voice of reason emerged, one who could bring together the warring clans and explain their differences.

Skip Twitter post by @MBoffin

Okay, you’re not crazy. If you can hear high freqs, you probably hear “yanny”, but you *might* hear “laurel”. If you can’t hear high freqs, you probably hear laurel. Here’s what it sounds like without high/low freqs. RT so we can avoid the whole dress situation. #yanny#laurel 🙄

— Dylan Bennett (@MBoffin) May 16, 2018

End of Twitter post by @MBoffin

The secret, it turns out, is frequency. The part of the sound that makes some people hear Yanny is higher frequency than that which makes some people hear Laurel.

As Lars Riecke, assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University, explained to The Verge: “If you remove all the low frequencies, you hear yanny. If you remove the high frequencies, you hear laurel.

“If your… ears emphasise both the higher and lower frequencies, you can toggle between the two sounds.”

So we can all agree to disagree. Even this lot.

Skip Twitter post by @bbc5live

The great “laurel” v “yanny” debate has been raging all morning at 5 live – and now our panel of MPs have joined in.

Labour MP @leicesterliz and SNP MP @KirstySNP hear “laurel”.

Conservative MP @JWhittingdale and our presenter @annaefoster hear “yanny”.

What do you hear?

— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) May 16, 2018

End of Twitter post by @bbc5live

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