I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the “speech banana” is not a brand new fruit; it’s not for eating at all.The “speech banana” is a unique pattern depicted on an audiogram. In an audiogram, you typically see the frequency level of the sound (which is measured in Hertz) on the x axis, and the volume level (which is measured in Decibels) on the vertical axis.
When the common sounds of human language – or phonemes – are charted on this kind of audiogram, they tend to all fall inside an region of the chart that is in the shape of a banana. The spoken sounds of most of the letters of the alphabet and the letter combinations ng, ch, sh and th all cluster within this area.
The speech banana is important because it includes most of the sounds of human speech which is vital for our ability to communicate with each other. People with normal hearing, can also hear many sounds outside of the speech banana such as low frequency tubas or high frequency birds chirping. People with hearing loss frequently have difficulty hearing specific vowels and the letter combinations ng, ch, sh and th.
Because of this, audiologists and hearing specialists are most focused on hearing impairment that happens within the range of the speech banana. If you’re having trouble hearing sounds inside this area, regardless if you are old or young, you are probably having difficulty hearing people properly, and may experience difficulties communicating with them.
The range of spoken sounds captured by the speech banana is so vital to communications, that many school districts mandate hearing tests using audiograms to detect hearing impairments in this region. This is also a primary reason why it’s very important to have your hearing aids – if you use them – correctly programmed and “tuned” by a professional audiologist or hearing specialist, who can ensure that you are hearing sounds inside this speech banana area clearly. Be sure that 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 an issue.