This is an assessment of language-like speech in the reverse speech of Burke Ramsey and the police interviewer during Burke’s police interview as a child.
The examples here represent words that could be perceived, however, in many instances alternatives can be heard. Therefore, there is no certainty with the offerings presented here.
In situations where there is any lack of audio quality or where there is spontaneous speech that is spoken at greater than medium pace, and especially where both occur together together, the possibilities of hearing language not there increases. This is true for forward speech, and applies also to reverse speech.
Comprehension of speech is aided when applying one’s internal grammar and context to the discourse, and this is aided by hearing longer examples of speech. As there is not the greater length of utterances occurring in reverse speech as there is in forward speech, this benefit is somewhat smaller. However, internal grammar can be applied. Context is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help identify language, yet at the same time create biased expectations and projections into the sounds. Also, one does not know what meanderings the unconscious will produce, and so whether or not the language is associated directly with the forward speech context. Though, it is possible one may hear a series of reversals over a relatively short time period, and realise that they are related to a context of sorts in themselves.
If one records short extracts of forward speech and listens closely to the forward speech, one will often hear sounds that don’t fit the words meant to be spoken, and it can even sound like something else. This is also a problem for reverse speech. Are you hearing what is meant to be said, or something else?
In ascertaining recorded language, it is important to understand how speech sounds, syllables and words interact with each other in forwards speech, and also how audio quality affects speech sounds by masking phonemes. This understanding needs to be applied to reverse speech to ascertain possibilities and parameters within which to operate.
Forward speech dialogue
BR: I was like laying in bed with my eyes open all night. So I was thinking of what might have happened.
PI: Did you hear Mum and Dad talking?
BR: I just heard Mum like going sicko/psycho.
PI: Going psycho?
BR: Yeah, like go like, you know
PI: Did you go down to see what’s going on?
BR: (?) down, and stayed in bed
BR: Our murder,/mother walked around, (the) then they hear the threa[t] [I was like laying in bed with my eyes open all night]
our murder op[en all night]
our n[ight] [t] does not occur in the RS. There is no evidence of any articulation towards the high front vowel in [I], and with the time period extending a little longer than a shortened cut [I] that could occur before consonant, I won’t claim [I] as a possibility.
mother/murder op[en all n]ight [m] comes at [l n]. [rd]/[th] occurs at FS [n]. It sounds most like murder, however, audio quality could mask sounds, and [mother] is a possibility.
walked eye[s op]en The labial op] gives a sense of [wa]. The FS[ [s] provides the [ed] ending (this can occur in the RS).
around [m eye]s [m] can be heard as [n]. [r] can be heard around [y].
(the) then they lay[in’ in bed with] FS [b] disappears. At slower speeds one can hear a short syllable before [then] from [with]. It sounds most like [the], and I will accept it as a ‘stumble’ that oten occurs in FS. In [then they], the [in’ in] provides a lengthened [n] which gives [n th]. This then follows normal assimilation of [th] adjacent [n].
hear [lay] some aspiration occurs, and [r] is perceived at [l].
the [like] the alveolar [l] dominated allowing a sense of [t]. Of course, audio quality aids this as well
threa[t] [I was] the fricative of the [s] gives a sense of [th], and the [w] gives a sense of [r]. Lack of evidence of an unreleased [t] final
BR: She walks, it’s a walk/this walk. My Mom the/was shit [I just heard Mum like going sicko]
If this reversal has an association with the previous one, then [murder] may meant to be [mother]. Also, see reversal below from the Dr Phil interview in 2016.
she walks [sicko] Before [w] it sounds like there is an [sh] occurring – he produces some vocal noise, however, it is likely the audio is lending something to it. [w] comes from the rounded vowel. [s] comes from [s].
it’s a/this walk [it’s] comes from the lengthened [s]; [a] comes from the vowel in [ing], It may also be [this walk]. [w] comes from the rounded vowel [o], and [k] comes from [g].
my mom [mum like] [like] simply sounds like fricative noise. I have assumed [my] here. A general hearing gives one the sense of [my mom].
the/was shit [I just heard] It could also sound like [momma] at this point, however, there is a new word beginning after [mom]. This point is at the end of [heard], and is most like [the], however, [was] is a possibility.The [sh] comes from the distorted production of [just]. An unreleased [t] final is assumed here.
PI: it’s all this [d]enied bullshit [did you go down and see what’s going on?]
There is no obvious [th]is or [d]enied; however, in spontaneous speech, elision of these sounds is possible.
it’s all [what’s]
this [see] Elision occurs at [th] with a labial approximate in its place. The failure to articulate [th] would occur in FS.
denied [down] The double syllable effect in [dow-n] give some sense of [denied]. There is no initial [d]; however, assimilation to the preceding [s] is quite possible.
bullshit [did she go] A sense of [b] is possible on release of FS g[o].. The [g] is silent and di[d] is silent. [ll] is not there, however, in spontaneous speech this is possible.
Before the beginning of this reversal is a word that can sound like [murder]
murder [going on] This can be heard in different ways, therefore there is a degree of uncertainty. Sense of [m] is at [n]. Sense of [r] occurs around [ng]. Sense of [d] occurs at the release and onset of FS [o] and [i] respectively. [er] occurs at [o]. The [g] is silent.
One has to separate it from the following sibilant sound to get a better sense of it.
BR: Nervous, cried [… down, and stayed in bed]
Nervous [stayed in bed] [nerv] comes at [n bed] with FS [d] providing the alveolar alternative of [n], and [b] providing sense of [v]. [s] comes at [st].
cried The initial is ambiguous. It may simply be [n], however, [c] is presented as a possibility. A sense of [r] occurs at [w]. [d] occurs at [d].
I have included here one from Burke’s 2016 interview with Dr Phil.
RS: Mom out there. Remember answer
FS: The [first thing I remember is my Mom] bursting in my room really frantic saying like oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, running around my room looking for Jon Benet.
There is no [b] in “remember”, however I think this does not exclude it as the documented reversal.
This could either indicate coaching from his parents when he was a child, or refer to a rehearsed response to his mother. Note that other reversals may refer to his mother walking around while he was in his bedroom.
One gets from this the sense of someone (Mom?) walking around. Using the word [shit] with [Mom] could either refer to her feeling ‘pyscho’ at JonBenet missing, or alternatively, Burke’s unease that she was walking around that night. He does seem to say that (he?) is [nervous].