Wondering about the Speech Banana? Discover Exactly What It Is and Why It Is So important

To begin with an attempt at weak humor, the “speech banana” isn’t related to that good old vaudeville joke, “Speak up…I can’t hear you…I’ve got a banana in my ear.” The thing that the “speech banana” represents is a distinct pattern found in the results of an audiogram, which is a graphical representation of someone’s hearing proficiency within a certain range of volume levels and frequencies. In an audiogram, you generally see the frequency level of the sound (which is measured in Hertz) on the horizontal axis, and the volume level or loudness ( in Decibels) on the y axis.

When the standard sounds of human language – or phonemes – are charted on such an audiogram, they have a tendency to all cluster inside an region of the chart that is in the shape of a banana. Almost the whole alphabet and the majority of letter combinations (such as ch, sh, th and ng) fall into the speech banana range on an audiogram. The principal exceptions are the letters w, x, y and q.

The speech banana is extremely important because it includes most of the sounds of human language which is essential for our ability to communicate with one another. Individuals with normal hearing, can hear lots of sounds outside the banana such as low frequency thunder or high frequency birds chirping. Individuals with hearing problems often have trouble hearing certain vowels and the letter combinations th, ch, sh, and ng.

Consequently, audiologists are most concerned with hearing loss that occurs within the range of the speech banana. If you are having trouble hearing sounds within this area, whether you are old or young, you are probably having difficulty hearing people properly, and may encounter difficulties interacting with them.

That is one of the reasons why hearing checks using audiograms are mandated in the schools of many states – to detect possible hearing problems at an early age, when they can be more easily corrected. The significance of this special range of sounds is also why – if you use hearing aids – you need to have them properly adjusted and programmed by a professional hearing specialist or audiologist, to make sure you can hear the sounds of speech clearly.Make certain you don’t miss out on any of the conversations in your daily life by getting a hearing evaluation and audiogram if you believe there is a problem.