Yanny or Laurel explained
“Yanny or Laurel” is an auditory illusion that became popular starting 25th of May 2018. In the brief audio recording, 53% of over 500,000 people answered on a Twitter poll that they heard a man saying the word “Laurel”, while 47% reported hearing a voice saying the name “Yanny”.
The audio clip originated from a recording of Jay Aubrey Jones, an opera singer, speaking the word “Laurel” as one of 200,000 reference pronunciations produced and published by vocabulary.com in 2007. So the audio clip is more than 10 years old but with the magic of twitter, facebook and some other social media websites the recording become viral.
Vocabulary.com needed someone who could read words written in the international phonetic alphabet with a strong pronunciation. Opera singers were chosen because they know how to read IPA since they have to sing in languages they don’t speak.
The discovery of the ambiguity phenomenon is attributed to a student of Flowery Branch High School, in the U.S. state of Georgia, who posted a description publicly on Instagram on May 11, 2018. The illusion reached further popularity when the student’s friend posted it on Reddit the next day. It was picked up by YouTuber Cloe Feldman on her Twitter account. Notable individuals who responded to the auditory illusion included Ellen DeGeneres, Stephen King, and Chrissy Teigen. Yanni and Laurel Halo, whose names are similar to those given in the auditory illusion, also responded. In a video released by the White House on Twitter, President Donald Trump responded to the meme by jokingly saying “I hear covfefe”, a reference to his infamous covfefe tweet the previous year.
According to The Guardian, the clip was the most divisive subject on the internet since the gold/blue dress controversy in 2015. Several days after the clip became viral, the team at Vocabulary.com added a separate entry for the word “Yanny“, which contained an audio clip identical to “Laurel”. Its definition is about the Internet trend.
On Jimmy Kimmel Live was shown that there are other words that may sound the same or some may hear only the one option.