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

To start with an effort at humor, the “speech banana” is not related to that old skit, “Speak up…I can’t hear you…I’ve got a banana in my ear.” Speech banana is a reference to the placement of sounds in an audiogram – a graphic representation of someone’s hearing acuity within a range of volumes and frequencies. In an audiogram, you typically see the frequency level of the sound (measured in Hertz) on the horizontal axis, and the volume level ( in Decibels) on the vertical axis.

The expression ‘speech banana’ comes from the banana-shaped cluster of points on the audiogram that is produced when human speech is analyzed. Practically the whole alphabet and most letter combinations (such as ng, th, sh and ch) fall into the speech banana range. The principal exceptions are the letters w, x, y and q.

The speech banana is extremely important because it encompasses most of the sounds of human language which is essential for our ability to communicate with each other. People with normal hearing, can also hear lots of sounds outside of the banana such as low frequency fog horns or high frequency glass breaking. It is extremely common for people to have difficulty hearing or understanding letter combinations such as ng, ch, sh and th and specific vowels.

Because of this hearing specialists and audiologist are most focused on loss of hearing inside the range represented by the speech banana. If you’re having trouble hearing sounds within this range, whether you are young or old, you are probably having difficulty hearing people properly, and may encounter trouble communicating with them.

The speech banana is regarded as so vital to hearing health that many school districts have mandated audiograms for students in order to detect and address hearing problems early that may be impacting their ability to communicate. This is also a primary reason why it’s so important to have your hearing aids correctly programmed and “tuned” by a professional hearing specialist or audiologist, who can make sure that you are hearing sounds inside this speech banana area clearly. If you have any worries about your hearing in the speech banana range,whether you wear hearings or not, we encourage you to call and get more information.

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