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How the meme “Yanni or Laurel” appeared and what actually sounds on the record

It all started with a schoolgirl who did her homework on literature.

On May 16, in a social network, a record has spread that only one word is spoken, but everyone perceives it in different ways. One part of the users clearly hear “Laurel”, and the other part – “Yanni.” Scientists have explained thephenomenon of the frequency of sound: with age, people are more likely to perceive high frequencies, and different results can be obtained due to the characteristics of headphones or speakers.

Mem began to spread with Reddit, but the site was not its original source. The Wired publication found that the recording was made on May 11 by the ninth-grader Katie Hetzel from the state of Georgia.

The schoolgirl did her homework on literature and met the unfamiliar word “Laurel”. She decided to learn its meaning in the online dictionary Vocabulary.com: the site says that this word is called a laurel wreath.

A laurel wreath is worn on the head, usually as a symbol of victory. If you look at the image of Julius Caesar, most often it wears a laurel wreath.

definition of Laurel from Vocabulary.com

To understand how the word is pronounced, Hetzel reproduced his entry on the online dictionary site. Despite the fact that the girl saw “Laurel” before her, she heard “Yanny”.

Then the schoolgirl interviewed her classmates: it turned out that they all heard two different words. Hetzel made a “story” with an audio record and published it in Instagram.

Soon the publication was seen by another pupil of the school – Fernando Castro, who added the video to himself in “history”, but already with a survey. On Reddit, the recording was made thanks to Castro’s friend, who recorded a video from Instagram High School and published it in the r / blackmagicfuckery theme.

However, journalists Wired wondered where the record itself came from. They contacted Mark Tinkler (Marc Tinkler) – the technical director and co-founder of Vocabulary.com. It turned out that the word “Laurel” was added to the library back in 2007 and it was not generated on the computer: the record was read by an opera singer in New York.

Tinkler noted that he does not know why people hear different versions of the same word. He suggested that the reason is lack of context, since people hear the word not in the context of the sentence

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