Some phonological distortion in a field of statements possessing a high grammatic and contextual appropriacy – Laura Bush on Larry King

Laura Bush had a particular focus on children’s education, and was keen to promote programs to improve the literacy, education and psychological well-being of children.

Early in the Bush presidency, I found the reversals below. I assume all are from Larry King’s interview in 2001. She is speaking about children’s education, an area she was most passionate about. There is a strong pattern occurring in the reversals. They suggest that she wanted funding for her programs, wanted George Bush to help her, and believed that she was in a position of influence and could make a difference.

1.Reverse: In my Bush – money  

Forward: Course my mother-in-law was great. I did call her when we were getting ready to move here. She’s the kind of person I can say what should I bring, (and um she’ll tell me).

An amusing reversal with its double meaning.

In my Bush [she’ll tell me] – Bush comes behind ‘she’ll’; a [b] is perceivable; the [t] in the FS disappears and a [y] approximant occurs at the high front vowel;  [l] takes on some characteristics of the following [m] in the FS, allowing perception of ‘my’ + and short centralised vowel; the two syllables of ‘in my’ are clear behind ‘tell me’, and the [n] ‘assimilates’ to the following [m] in the RS.

money [and um]

2. Reverse: Your Bush, why he make you mine, I will cost you money  

Forward: Every mother there had volunteered a lot, some are teachers themselves [and ah we talked about how we can help children], when we know they need help.

Your Bush [children] – [b] comes behind [l] just before the alveolar stop (Note, this occurred also in the first reversal).

Why he make – [m] in ‘make’ is actually [n]; ‘I’ has aspiration attached to it from [h], so ‘he’ is probably the closest pronoun (I had originally thought ‘I’);  ‘why’ is sound.

you mine – abou[t how we] – ‘you’ comes from high front vowel; ‘mine’ is stretched out into two syllables with an aspiration moving to [n] in the second syllable; [m] comes from strong [w]; note, one may see this as ‘wine’; [n] comes from alveolar [t

I will cost [talked abou]t – sibilance at [t] in FS helps give perception of ‘cost’; although not well-formed, ‘will’ is unclear – there is a [b] followed by by a vowel sound where the  [d] in the FS disappears; ‘I’ comes from [ou].

you money [and ah we] – more [w] rather than [n]; ‘you’ comes from high front vowel.

I originally ignored the aspiration and used ‘I’ as the preposition; also originally, my reversal started with ‘Bush’. However, going back over the FS, I noticed ‘Your Bush’. So, in its current form we have your, you, he, I and mine. This makes interpretation confusing. With ‘your’, the subconscious personality appears to be referring to Laura Bush; however, ‘he’ and ‘you’ appear to be Bush!! So, this makes a pretty pickle. Of course, prepositions are notoriously weak words, and even in FS speech close examination of some prepositions can tell one that they don’t always sound like they are supposed to.

Consideration of its soundness as a reversal will depend on weighing up the general listening, its appropriateness to the speaker and context, and what is reasonable phonologically within speech, with any part that lacks soundness (such as n/m in ‘make’, and the stretched out ‘mine’). The point is, can this hold up in the big picture? I am interested in it only in relationship to the other reversals.

3. There is no arms today. Pray that I’m your weapon

Forward … [n every mother there had volunteer]ed a lot, some are teachers themselves and ah we talked about how we can help children, when we know they need help.

There is no arms today [had volunteered]

There is – volun[teered] – [th] at [d] in FS, a sense of [s] occurs at [t] in FS

no arms – [volun]teered – the [l] disappeares to be replaced by [w] as a natural linking sound between ‘no’ and ‘arms’; [m] is perceivable at [v] (this may be due somewhat to the audio quality); there is a sense of sibilance at the end to get [s]

today [had] – the double [d] creates the [t] and [d] in ‘today’ (ie, 1) the movement of the tongue to the alveolar ridge, pause, full pronunciation of [d]

Pray that I’m your weapon [n every mother there]

Pray th[ere] – [p] can be perceived

that [mo[ther th]ere

I’m [mo]ther

your [eve[ry]

weapon [n ev]ery – only a general listening may give a sense of ‘weapon’. The sounds are more and a glottal stop instead of [p]. So, one needs to weigh this imprecise word against the phonology of the rest of the words in the two sentence reversal, their grammar and semantics. Other words are conducive to the possibility of ‘weapon’. In the big picture, could it meant to be ‘weapon’?

Laura Bush may see herself as a useful weapon, due to her position, in bringing about improvements in education.

The forward speech is 7 seconds in length. There appears to be discernible language behind most of it both from Laura Bush and from Larry King.

4. (a) Bush will part with this and I know we’re about to beat them 

Forward: So we can figure out ways to help children ….. des[pi, deep(?) everyone knows who the troubled children are] …. you know, you know that. 

(Note: FS audio is for all 3 reversals)

 Bush [chil]dren

will – troub[led] – [d] has disappeared enough for [w] to stand out

part [troub]led

with this [s who the]

and I [know]s

know we’re – e[veryone]

about to – this one’s a bit messy, but that could be so if it was FS. The rising intonation in ‘we’re’ gives a sense of [a] in ‘about’. [b] is really a [v]; a sense of a short ‘to’ is gleaned from the glottalisation between [p] and the start of ‘everyone’.

beat them – des[pi deep]

Laura Bush may be confident that Bush will provide necessary funding for her programs, and she believes that she will be victorious over those who may represent barriers in her path.

(b) Bush, go ahead – sell/Why’re we here?/To make you watch her  

… [there so we can figure out ways to help child]ren ….. des[pi, deep(?) everyone knows who the troubled children are] …. you know, you know that.

There are three comments made. The first refers to her desire for Bush to ‘sell’ her programs. The second is a question asking why is LB on the show. The third comment is the answer – to watch her.

For added interest, Larry King appears to make statements in reverse. He mentions troubled children, the distant child in the FS.

(c) Why action that saved it/Laura Bush, Dad loves it

‘Laura’ lacks [r] and is more like [w]; in a general listening it can sound like an [l]. However, it bears a close approximation to ‘Laura’ and this makes it worth paying some attention to. Who ‘Dad’ is, I do not know – is it a meandering in his own mind about his father (who was long dead)? Or is it a reference to George Bush, or even himself?




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