The "Speech Banana" and the Sounds of Human Speech

The "Speech Banana" is a very useful visual tool for describing where the sounds used in everyday human speech occur on an audiogram. Parts of speech that are commonly used are known as "phonemes" and include "ng", "th", or "s" as well as many more. When mapped out on a graph, these phonemes form an almost banana-like shape, which is where the term "Speech Banana" comes from. 


This graph can be very useful for people with hearing loss as well as the people they communicate with. It is very common for seniors to lose their ability to clearly hear high frequency (4000 Hz and up) sounds. The sounds in this range are "f", "th", and "s" sounds, and finding alternate words that don't include these letters can improve understanding. 

Common examples of bad words to use around people with high frequency hearing loss:

First, fast, nice, bath, things, thirsty, past, months, eighth, and mouth

The purpose of conversation to both speak and be understood. If you are having difficulty holding a conversation, be aware of the words you are having problems with and adjust accordingly. For most people, the words containing sounds on the left half of the Speech Banana are easier to understand. However, everyone has a slightly different ability to hear and you should get your hearing tested to discover exactly how your hearing works. 

ClearValue Hearing partners with hearing providers around the United States to make sure that people have access to free hearing tests. If you want to learn more about your hearing, please call 1-888-439-5775 today and take advantage of this free program. 

This article was guest posted by ASI Audiology, a large audiology practice in Iowa with 16 locations. 

For more information on words that are difficult to understand, please check out our Guest Post at - Common Words That Are Difficult To Understand With Hearing Loss

Last Updated: 12/09/2016

Andrew Lekashman