Ever Heard of the Human Speech Banana? Learn What It Is and Why It Matters

If you are curious, a “speech banana” is not an audiologist’s mid-day snack.Speech banana is a reference to the sounds in an audiogram – a visual rendering of a person’s hearing acuity within a range of frequencies and loudness levels. Audiograms are graphs of sound frequency (on the x axis) and volume (on the vertical axis). In a hearing evaluation, each test sound is characterized by its frequency and volume and can be graphed to create a chart.

The phrase ‘speech banana‘ stems from the banana-shaped group of points on the audiogram that is produced when human language is analyzed. Nearly the whole alphabet and most letter combinations (such as ng, ch, sh and th) fall into the speech banana range on an audiogram. The primary exceptions are the letters w, x, y and q.

The speech banana is important because it encompasses nearly all of the sounds of human speech which is vital for our communications with one another. Individuals with normal hearing, can also hear many sounds outside the banana such as low frequency thunder or high frequency glass breaking. Hearing impairment often strikes this speech banana area, which results in individuals having difficulty hearing or understanding the letter combinations ng, th, sh and ch.

When hearing impairment affects the frequencies and volumes inside the speech banana it interferes with interpersonal communications. That’s why audiologists will often concentrate on that range. If you are having trouble hearing sounds within this area, whether you are old or young, you are most likely having difficulty hearing other people properly, and may experience trouble conversing with them.

The array of spoken sounds captured by the speech banana is so essential to communications, that a number of school districts mandate hearing tests using audiograms to detect hearing impairments in this region. The significance of this special region of sounds is also why hearing aids need to be properly adjusted and programmed by a qualified hearing specialist or audiologist, to make sure you can hear the sounds of human speech clearly.Make certain you don’t miss the human speech in your life by requesting a hearing test and audiogram if you think you may have an issue.