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A woman hearing and guessing what word she heard. / Photo by: racorn via 123RF

 

No debate on the Internet has been as divisive as the viral Yanny vs. Laurel audio clip that was originally posted by a Reddit user. The attention or furor that the audio clip has generated has eclipsed that of the 2015 viral dress video, where the same dress was seen either as white or gold and blue or block. 

According to Mahita Gajana, writing for Time, the original Yanny or Laurel clip originated from a Vocabulary.com recording. Mark Tinkler, the website’s founder and chief technology officer, said the original audio recording was made by an opera singer contracted to record English language words for the website. He added that the actual word recorded in the original clip was laurel, defined as the wreath worn on the head as a sign of victory. 

Jay Aubrey Jones, the 64-year-old former baritone singer who made the original clip, is now working as a temporary employee for a financial institution in New York City. Jones said that it amused him to no end that the recording he made is causing all that commotion on the Internet.

Tinkler admitted that after listening to the original clip from the vocabulary website, he heard both Yanny and Laurel being spoken. Tinkler said hearing either Yanny or Laurel depends on the kind of technology and the audio equipment that are being used to listen to the clip. Using somebody’s computer, Tinkler heard Yanny, but when he played the clip on his desk, he heard Laurel. 

Several cognitive processes that the brain uses to give meaning to sound are the reason why people differ on what they hear, according to experts. Dr. Kevin Franck, the director for audiology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the Yanny vs. Laurel audio clip forces the brain to decide quickly about what word it hears.