Wednesday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

The debate tearing up the internet this morning is not what’s going on in North Korea or Jerusalem, but rather: do you hear Laurel or Yanny in this clip?

Tip: try listening on speaker and on headphones. It’s not a hoax.

The solution is here. Bizarrely, it’s all about the pitch.

It’s Janet Jackson’s birthday today (1966) as well as tennis player Gabriela Sabatini (1970), and of course, Google Doodle’s honoree of the day Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka (1898).


On Twitter today:

A dog being adorable. Probably also slobbery. Such is the way with dogs.

The animal that gets its name at the beginning of every dictionary for children.

The worried owl.

The wombles have a drag race

And some kittens casting The Glamour on humans.

Matthew sent in some insects.

I’ve no idea what this one is. Does anyone know?

This clip makes it quite obvious (at least to me) that herding is co-opted hunting.

Now watch me whip
Watch me nae nae

Finally, on to Poland where the workers have apparently usurped power leaving the editor protesting plaintively.

A: Let’s go back to work.
Hili: Tyrant.


In Polish:

Ja: Wracamy do roboty.
Hili: Tyran.

Hat-tip: Heather, Matthew, Michael




  1. George
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    To me, it is clearly Laurel with speakers and headphones.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    “Yanny” & since it relates to ear freq response: I’m 62 & a bit years old with clean ear oles. Here’s a clearer demo of what’s going on than the one in the OP:

    • George
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      I’m 61 and it is very clearly Laurel to me. I have tinnitus. I wonder if that has any effect. I believe we lose the ability to hear higher frequencies as we age. Or maybe the opposite. I wonder if that makes a difference.

      • rom
        Posted May 17, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        As of the 16th I became 64 – and I clearly hear laurel on my laptop.

        On the Daily Show on the TV it was clearly yanni

        I too have tinnitus

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      It depends partly on the source of the sound – on my proper stereos and on headphones it’s Laurel, on the laptop speakers it’s Yanny – and, I suspect, partly on whatever selective frequencies of hearing loss the listener has.

      When it’s well reproduced, the Yanny part is apparently resident in the same frequencies damaged by high speed dental drills and driving convertibles for 45 years.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        As a further experiment, when listening on the laptop putting my fingers in my ears changes it from Yanny to Laurel. I also notice that when I hear the Yanny sound it is muddy and unclear, while the “correct” Laurel version is more defined and crisp.

        I believe Laurel is God’s will and Yanny is the anti-Christ. My laptop will be exorcised.

        • Posted May 16, 2018 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          “I believe Laurel is God’s will and Yanny is the anti-Christ. My laptop will be exorcised.”


    • Dominic
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Does it not depend on one’s native tongue? Yanny is not a name in English, Laurel is…

      • BJ
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        “Yanny is not a name in English”

        How dare you insult the beloved and gifted Yanni!

    • drew
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      It’s strange because the conclusion in this video is the exact opposite of the one in the op.

      In that one, it said that the low frequency leads to hearing Yanni and the high frequency leads to hearing laurel.

      FWIW, in this video I hear Laurel in all of the playings. In the video in the OP, when he cuts out the high frequencies I hear something close to Erie. It seems that filtering out the higher frequencies cuts of the L sound.

      • drew
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        *Possibly closer to Yeary than Erie.

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Gabriela Sabatini — don’t believe there’s ever been another human being who looked better dripping with perspiration.

    • BJ
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      As a connoisseur of tennis myself, I can think of quite a few. I’m a big fan of Simona Halep these days.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        Gimme Evonne Goolagong. (Mighta been before your time, BJ.)

        • BJ
          Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

          I wasn’t even born when she was doing her thing, but I know tennis, so I know of her. Never saw her play, though.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted May 16, 2018 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

            You ever read any of David Foster Wallace’s tennis pieces — like this one or this one?

    • BJ
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      You’re right, though. The more I think about it, there really isn’t anyone on Sabatini’s level, but I prefer cute to the supermodel look.

    • revelator60
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Clive James has even written a poem called “Bring me the sweat of Gabriela Sabatini”…

      • BJ
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Wow, that was both beautiful and hilarious.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Mr. James is a man of taste and discernment.

  4. Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I heard ‘yanny’ earlier, but now ‘laurel’! Go figure. I wonder if time of day matters?

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    The Unknown Insect is another longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae), emerging from wood. Many longhorns start out life as wood-boring larvae. I don’t know the species.

    • Lynn Wilhelm
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      you beat me to it Mark! Can’t help with species either.

    • Liz
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      My first thought was that it looked like the Asian Longhorned Beetle but different. I found Saperda puncticollis, Saperda vestita, and Saperda interrupta. The first one has four circles on its thorax and all black down the sides. The second has only two circles but they are on its head, not thorax. The third one has the most similar body pattern but still has four circles on its thorax instead of two. I don’t know if it’s possible that maybe it’s a mix between the Saperda vestita, Linden Borer, and one of the other ones. It could be something else entirely.

  6. Кузман
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I’m no insect expert, but I’m guessing Demonax notabilis for the beetle. The tweet says yellow tiger paper-cutter (キイロトラカミキリ).

    • Liz
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      This looks much closer than what I was finding. Thank you.

  7. Lynn Wilhelm
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    On the sheepdog video; it’s amazing how humans have bred and trained d*gs’ predatory behaviours to help us. There is a very fine line between predator and working dog with herding dogs–if you’ve never seen the movie “Babe” it’s easy to see why the sheep call the dogs “wolf”.

    I wonder too how well we’ve bred/trained the sheep to accept the predatory herding behaviour as non-threatening but bred/trained them to still respond to a herding dog. I suspect not much since that’s probably not the primary goal of sheep breeding. However, I’ve always heard that sheep get very stressed out which could affect production on a farm, so breeding dog-compliant animals might be worth it.

    Didn’t we see a video here about a week ago of a herding fail by a non-herding dog breed? The sheep actually chased the dog in that video. I’d like to see how those same sheep would have responded to a proper herding dog.

    I work at a veterinary school and my cubicle is near the behaviour specialists, so I might ask around a bit (but I don’t think they’ve done much work with sheep!). I don’t know how much the small ruminant people would know either–I might try a lit search.

    • darrelle
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      An interesting bit of behavior in that same video is the stamping behavior of the sheep. I’ve seen, up close and personal, that same stamping behavior in deer and cows. Must have evolved quite a long time ago. MCRA of sheep and deer is estimated at 27 MYA.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        A cornered sheep, goat etc stamps a front foot to warn a predator it will soon attack unless the predator backs off.

        • darrelle
          Posted May 16, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          Yep. So do deer, cows and (I’m betting) most or all other critters in Artiodactyla. Or maybe the behavior is more widespread among Ungulates?

          I once had a stand-off with a young buck in the woods near the Royal Gorge Bridge. We surprised each other and ended up face to face no more than 5 feet apart. Whenever I moved the slightest bit, just beginning to shift weight to take a step, he would stamp. And I’d stop. Took about 15 minutes to deescalate the situation.

      • Posted May 16, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Stamping and kicking are their main defensive weapons. The sheep is clearly telling the dog to back off. The dog is wary because it knows that a sharp kick could really hurt.

        • Lynn Wilhelm
          Posted May 16, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          I wonder if the dog is also wary because it really wants to attack the sheep but knows it can’t–handler is nearby. Training fighting instinct.

  8. Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Bizarre! I listened first via Twitter on my phone’s speakers and heard “Yanny”. An hour later I listened to it on my computer via headphones and hear “Laurel”. It is hard to believe that they are the same audio recording. So I played it again on my phone speaker simultaneously with the computer headphones and magically the phone version turned into “Laurel”. Truly strange!

  9. Vaal
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I hear Yanny very clearly, and can not hear it as anything else.

    Fascinating explanation about the perception altered by not hearing the higher frequencies!

    I’m 54 and have wicked tinnitus, picked up mostly from playing in a band in my younger days. But due to that tinnitus I’ve protected my hearing in really sound environments and I presume this is why my hearing is actually (as measured) very good for my age.

    Would rather not have tinnitus, though..

  10. BJ
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I tried different speakers, fiddling with bass/treble, and coming back to try again after listening at mid volume to Brigitte Engerer’s rendition of Chopin’s Noctunres Op. 9, No. 1 in B flat minor. Nothing changed my hearing Laurel.

  11. Janet
    Posted May 16, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Without my hearing aids I hear Yanny. With them (to correct for high frequency hearing loss in particular) I hear Laurel.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Based on an n=8 of lab members using an iPhone speaker three under thirty hear Laural everyone older hears Yanni. Native speakers of english, spanish, italian and russian.

      • Posted May 16, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

        Definitely well over thirty. Definitely hear laurel and I find it hard to believe anyone could hear yanny.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 17, 2018 at 1:08 am | Permalink

      That’s odd. I have total loss of high frequencies in my left ear. Wouldn’t be surprised if my right ear was a bit down at the top end too.

      But I definitely hear Laurel, which implies it’s low frequency – the opposite of your experience.


  12. Posted May 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I heard “Hardy.”

  13. Posted May 16, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a tool that let’s you adjust between Yanny, Laurel, and every spot in between. I find that if I move the slider to the Yanny extreme and move it slowly toward Laurel, Yanny persists all the way to the other extreme and vice-versa! Most of the time anyway. My ears are telling me I have to stop now.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Very good. There are 11 positions on the slider. If leftmost point [“Laurel”] is -5, midpoint is 0 & rightmost point is +5 [“Yanny”] then…

      I jump in 10 steps from -5 to +5 it switches to “Yanny” at 1

      I jump in 10 steps from +5 to -5 it switches to “Laurel” at -2

      If I listen around the -1, 0, +1 area I can concentrate & hear one or the other at will [not easily – if my brain is telling my mind it's "Yanny" it takes a couple of dozen Ys before I can hear L instead]

      • Posted May 16, 2018 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        It’s fun playing around with one’s own brain.

    • Posted May 16, 2018 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      I cannot find a consistent change point. Moving from the laurel side I have to go well past the midpoint to hear yanny, and the opposite moving from the yanny side.

      To be honest, I have no idea what is happening here.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted May 16, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        Your experience is the same as mine – there’s an expectations thing going on, related a little to first impressions lingering despite evidence to the contrary. There’s a mix of both words in the samples with a varying proportion & we can choose which word to pick out over the other at the overlap.

        A bad example maybe, but rather like how we can pick out one voice of our choosing from a hubbub of voices at a party.

      • Posted May 16, 2018 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

        This is something I know a little about. There is a certain amount of lock-in that goes on in perception. The brain has a set of possible interpretations at hand and picks the one that matches the stimulus best. Once that interpretation has been chosen, the choice persists even if the stimulus varies a little. Of course, if the stimulus changes such that it goes past some threshold, the brain chooses a different interpretation. We are conscious of the switch but not the details behind it.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted May 17, 2018 at 1:20 am | Permalink

          Yes, most certainly. We see what we expect to see. (Or hear, in this case).

          And, re Michael Fisher’s comment about hearing voices at a party, I find it takes me a few seconds to ‘pick up’ on what somebody is saying over the babble**. Then I can ‘track’ what they’re saying (doubtless helped by the redundancy of English) but if I’m distracted momentarily and lose track, it takes me some time to pick it up again.

          (**I have no high frequencies in my left ear, which doesn’t help. Also, being able to see their lips move helps – I can’t consciously lip-read, but it helps to reinforce the sounds I’m hearing).


          • Posted May 17, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

            Yes too both of these. I find the ability to focus on one voice in a crowd to be amazing, much more than this Yanny/Laurel effect. Though it probably works best with familiar voices (not sure if that has been studied), it works with voices we have never heard before. It seems clear that we have a human voice processing subsystem that can quickly characterize a voice and attach an identity to its parameters. This is analogous to our face processing subsystem.

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