I’m sorry to let you down, but the “speech banana” is not an innovative new super fruit; it isn’t even edible.Speech banana is a reference to the placement of sounds in an audiogram – a graphic representation of someone’s hearing acuity inside a range of volumes and frequencies. Audiograms are typically graphed with the frequency level (measured in Hertz) on one the x axis and loudness level (measured in Decibels) on the y axis.

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

For those who have normal hearing, you can hear sounds inside this area, but can also hear higher-frequency sounds such as a glass breaking or birds chirping and lower-frequency sounds such as machinery or tubas. But the sounds that are most important to our communications with other individuals are the sounds we generate when speaking. It is very common for people to have trouble hearing or understanding specific vowels and letter combinations such as ch, sh, th and ng.

This is the reason hearing instrument specialists are most concerned by loss of hearing inside the spectrum represented by the speech banana. If you’re having trouble hearing sounds within this range, regardless if you are old or young, you are probably having difficulty hearing other people properly, and may experience problems communicating with them.

The range of spoken sounds encompassed by the speech banana is so critical to communications, that a number of school districts mandate hearing tests using audiograms to detect hearing impairments in this region. Since this range of sounds is so essential to human communications it is the range that most hearing aids are tuned and programmed for. If you have any worries about your ability to hear in the speech banana range,whether you wear hearings or not, feel free to call and ask us about it.