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Hearing Yanny? You might speak a lot of languages

Polyglots aren't picking up on Laurel.

"Yanny or Laurel?" Them's fightin' words! The internet fell to pieces over an audio illusion that emerged in mid-May challenging people to figure out if a computer voice is saying "Yanny" or "Laurel." 

Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Yanny or Laurel? Your answer to the audio question that's rocking the internet may depend on a lot of factors, including your age, the quality of your sound system and, weirdly enough, how many languages you speak. 

Qualtrics, which describes itself as a survey and experience management company, dug into some data on Yanny and Laurel listeners and the results are fascinating. 

Qualtrics conducted an online survey on Thursday of 355 US adults. The first finding isn't too surprising: the respondents were evenly split with 50.14 percent of listeners hearing Laurel and 49.86 percent hearing Yanny. 

Next, we get into generational differences. The survey found people older than 65 are more likely to hear Laurel (67 percent), while younger folks age 18-24 are more likely to hear Yanny (62 percent). This may have to do with the way hearing changes in older adults, one of the factors audio experts say can make a difference in which word you hear. 

Polyglots seem to have carefully calibrated ears that lean in the Yanny direction. Qualtrics says people who speak four or more languages were six times more likely to hear Yanny over Laurel. 

President Donald Trump and White House staffers waded into the Laurel or Yanny minefield with a humorous video, but good luck turning this into a political debate. Qualtrics found 53 percent of Democrats heard Laurel while 51 percent of Republicans heard Yanny. That isn't significant enough to argue about.

These statistics may not be the most scientifically rigorous findings you will ever see, but they do offer a fun snapshot of what's going on with the biggest internet debate since The Dress flummoxed our eyes back in 2015.

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