Presenting the Speech Banana

I’m sorry to let you down, but the “speech banana” is not an innovative new super fruit; it isn’t even edible.The “speech banana” is a distinctive design depicted on an audiogram. Audiograms are plots of sound frequency (on the horizontal axis) and loudness (on the y axis). During a hearing evaluation, each test sound is defined by its volume and frequency and can be graphed on a chart.

When the standard sounds of human language are plotted on this kind of audiogram, they have a tendency to all fall within an region of the chart that is shaped like a banana. The spoken sound of all of the letters of the alphabet, with the exception of q, w, x, and y, cluster inside the speech banana, as do the widespread letter pairs th, ch, sh, and ng.

The speech banana is important because it includes most of the sounds of human speech which is necessary for our communications with each other. Individuals with normal hearing, can hear many sounds outside of the speech banana such as low frequency tubas or high frequency glass breaking. It is extremely common for people to have trouble hearing or understanding specific vowels and letter combinations such as th, ch, sh, and ng.

When loss of hearing affects the volumes and frequencies inside the speech banana it disrupts interpersonal communications. For this reason hearing specialists and audiologist will normally focus on that area. If you are having issues hearing sounds inside this area, regardless if you are old or young, you are probably having difficulty hearing other people properly, and may have problems conversing with them.

The speech banana is considered so crucial to healthy hearing that many schools have required audiograms for their students so that they can detect and address hearing problems early, espcially those impacting communications. Since this range of sounds is so essential to communications it is the range that most hearing aids are tuned and adjusted to perform best in. If you have any questions about your hearing in the speech banana range give us a call.

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