U of A linguists explain how one word can sound so different to so many people.

18
May
2018

The latest this-or-that debate—do you hear Laurel or Yanny?—that’s been raging on the Internet this week comes down to a messy sound file and the brain of the beholder, according to two University of Alberta linguists.

The debate was sparked when a Reddit user posted the contentious clip with the deceptively simple question, “What do you guys hear?” But it really took off when the influential Twitter user Cloe Feldman posed the question to her 212,000 followers.

What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I

— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018

In an attempt to clear up the ensuing confusion, the original poster revealed the source of the ambiguous audio: a pronunciation of the word “Laurel” on the online dictionary vocabulary.com. But to those in the Yanny camp, that only raises more questions. How...

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