International affairs

These are reversals from Al Gore’s CNN Town Hall interview in July 2017 promoting his new book.

RS: Alps, they’re all with snow 

FS: … storms getting stronger and more destructive. [Watch the water spla]sh off the city. This is global warming

Alps [spla]sh

they’re all with [the water s]  [they’re] comes where the [s] in the next FS word joins onto [er] creating a fricative sound – there is a natural assimilation of the [th] with the [s] from [Alps]. [all] comes at [wat][ll] from FS [w], the weakly articulated [t] disappears in the RS. [w] is from the release of FS [w]. [th] is from FS [th]

snow [watch] [t] stop produces [n] stop in RS; [ch] produces appropriately sibilance of [s].

Although Gore is speaking of storms, Gore’s subconscious seems to remind him that rather than ice/snow melting, there is plenty of it in the mountains still.


RS: Why heed/did that rot  

You know without violating the privacy of those conversations I’ll just say that uh, [I I did have] reason to believe he might stay in.

why [have] A sense of [w] occurs from FS [v]

heed/did  [did] There is a tap consonant from the final [d] in FS [did]. This can be heard. At the same time, the [h] in [have] tends to dominate helping to give a sense of [heed] even though there is a tap there. If this is not the case and the [h] should be ignored, it may be [did].

that  [I d]id The contraction that occurs between [I I] in the FS gives a sense of [t] final, [th] comes from [d]

rot [I] Gore articulates an [r] in the FS thus producing the initial of the RS word, the contraction of the palate helps gives a sense that there should be a [t] final.

This reversal occurred at the point Gore stumbled a little in his speaking (uh, I, I …). It is interesting that an [r] occurs at [I] to produce [rot]. Gore, trying to formulate his words probably ended up with a cross between [Urr] and [I] before he repeated [I].

What is the rot? Did he reasonably believe that Trump would stay in, and his subconscious asking either why he paid attention to the belief or why he should believe Trump?


This one is made up of several comments which are language-like. This is analysed and discussed below to decide what of it has import.

RS: They’d made the sell, no city, it’s in the shamer(?), sign here Bori(s), I take it, (?) the moral rot  

FS: … virtually every nation in the en[tire world agreed to get to zero greenhouse emissions, it is unprecedented].


made the [eden] perception of [m] occurs, [de th] comes from the FS [d].

sell [prec]edented [p] disappears enough to leave [sell]; fricative noise from the audio occurs which may give a sense of a consonant such as [th] or [f], however, this noise should be ignored.

no city [it is un]precedented

it’s in the emiss[ions]

(chamber?) [emiss]ions The sounds produce shamer or shimmer, however, perhaps it is meant to be chamber.

Sign here [greenhouse] [g] disappears in the RS.

Bori(s)  rounding of vowel in the FS at the end of [zero] gives a sense of [b] initial. The sounds produce [boriz].

I take it [to get to]

(?)  [gree]d This comes out as gibberish, sounded something like e-oo. Perhaps it is a highly distorted heal

the [a]greed The release of [a] before moving to [g] gives a sense of [th].

moral [worl]d The ending of [rl] appears to give a sense of a bilabial.

rot [to our]

There is a highly distorted word that perhaps may be meant to be heal to make heal the moral rotBoris seems pretty meaningless. No city may be informative, or not. Key statements here seem to be They’d made the sell/sign here/I take it, as well as the moral rot. From these comments we can consider that the sell had been made to the world, getting others to sign up, as well as Gore taking the benefit.  Note in the following reversal below he states hurry give. The moral rot may refer to a belief that those who do not subscribe to Gore’s views are part of a moral rot. If no city has any meaning here, perhaps it is a connection to cities and pollution.


RS: hurry give  

FS: And by the way the two degree [figure] is just it’s not a you know a scientific threshold, it’s just sort of a compromise.

hurry give  [figure]

We should be dubious about short two word reversals by themselves as the coincidence level is high. It is worth including, however, in view of a potential bigger picture with other reversals.


RS: But they gather skin my dear; soon they’ll walk, give me sword            But they gather skin my dear; soon they’ll walk on me sword  

FS: fossil fuel age is ah i is in a transition now but that does not absolve any of us from our duty to look after you and your neighbours and and [those in the coal industry to make sure they get the] training and the opportunities …

they  g[et]

gather  s[ure they g]et

skin  [make s]ure  Perceiving [n] at [m] is possible here, perhaps aided by the nasalisation of the sound.

my dear  indus[try to m]ake  [m] occurs at [m]. Here we are looking at the FS articulation and release of [m] creating some nasalisation in the word [make] to produce a possible [n] in [skin]. For [my], we have the FS onset of [m] creating the [m] in [my]. [dear] comes from [ry t]o with [t]ry creating slight frication at the end which can be ignored.

soon they’ll  coa[l indus] [soon] comes at [dus] where [d] creates acceptable [n] perception; they’ll occurs at [l in]. Of course the initial is [n], and this is not a good representation of the word, however, there will be some assimilation of the [th] to a final [n] in the previous word. [‘ll] comes at coa[l].

walk  [coa] Rounded vowel gives sense of [w].

(g)ive me [in the] There is a [th] rather than [g]; the [n] does give an [m] perception, so that it sounds like [thimme] with the second syllable holding the stress. We can accept a loss of [v] for [m]. A general listening can also give a sense of [on me] as in [walk on me sword]. This reduces the efficacy of the reversal.

sword  [those]

There are two other reversals behind the FS. These follow each other – In the FS you do drama is first and in RS it is second.

RS: you do drama  

RS: solve any loss 

The sounds at [thimme] is  a question mark, and [soon they’ll] is a little iffy. The remaining language represents the words appropriately.

Gore is addressing a female about what would happen to the coal miners in her state (my dear). Interestingly, the term ‘gather skin’ is used in reference to the widely popular game Counter Strike Global Offensive where players gather skin or inventory such as weapons to use. As a weapon, Gore mentions his ‘sword’. He states that they gather skin or accrue weaponry and inventory to aid them. There is an issue at the point of [thimme] and this creates confusion. In the first version above one possible interpretation is that ‘gather skin’ is the training and opportunities for coal miners in transition (soon they’ll walk)  [Give me sword] may then refer to having the weapons to fight the fossil fuel industry. Alternatively, the fossil fuel industry ‘gathers skin’ and they may ‘get away’, hence the need for the weapon to fight them. If it is meant to be [on me], perhaps he is suggesting that the coal miners will commit ‘suicide’ so to speak on his sword.

Gore is good at sounding dramatic; he even sounds evangelistic in his video documentaries. Being dramatic is a tool he uses to sell his product.


RS: There/Their apprentices know we’re all going to cry dumb, bring attack  Their/They’re apprentices, now we’re all going to cry dumb, bring attack  

FS: all faith and traditions to read La Dolte the encyclical from Pope Francis which really address the question you’re [asking here my daughter Karenna Gore runs the Centre for Earth] Ethics here at Union Theological Seminary, and she was part of a study group, multi faith reading that …

their  [earth]

apprentices [is the centre for]  [th] assimilates to [s] – [s th] – in the FS leaving [ces] from [s the c]entre. [nt] comes from [n], [ppr] comes from [re f]or where [f] creates perception of [p]. [a] comes from f[or].

know/now we’re all  Karenna G[ore run]s  [n] is from [n], [w w] is from [r]uns, [‘r] is rom o[r]e; [all] is from [o]re.

going to K[arenna G] produces acceptable form of the words.

cry dumb  [my daughter C] [cry] from d[aughter C], and [dumb] from [my d].

bring attack [asking here m]y  [bring] is from [g here m], [attack] from [askin]g [sk] creates sense of [tt], and sense of [ck] comes from pre-articulation of [a]sking.

His daughter’s study group may be the trigger for  apprentices. The pronoun we is used in regard to crying dumb. Cry dumb may be like the phrase ‘cry innocent’ in the sense of proclaim innocence or proclaim ignorance. It would need to be decided whether Bring attack means they (will) bring an attack on others, or others bring attack on them.


The reversal here is from the Pope’s visit to the USA. It is contextually interesting as he appears to produce a set of associated words about Muslim migration into Europe. Some words are very clear, a couple are uncertain. A pattern seems to occur – subconscious concern about what is happening in Europe, which opposes his public face about the matter.

RS: I should diss it – refugee; they’re sober, they are tougher, beard suck; Soon they’ll share it Sorbonne.

FS: “by working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult, difficulty situations”

‘I should diss it – refugee’  (Note: ‘to diss’ means to have contempt for, to criticise strongly). 

refugee [difficult] – in a general listening it sounds like ‘refugee’. This is an example where it is more difficult to understand how FS sounds became RS sounds. [r] comes from [l], which is understandable, due to tongue position; [g] comes at [f] in the FS – the sound seems to occur as a fricative alveolar; [f] comes at [c] – the sound is a bit of a wildcard and could represent another sound. In light of the rest of the word, [f] is the assumption.

They’re sober, they are tougher, beard suck’. 

(Note: Muslims aren’t permitted to drink, males are expected to have beards, and we may consider them tough).

This is quite clear, apart from the syllable stress anomaly in ‘beard’.

‘Soon they’ll share it – Sorbonne‘. 

There is an ‘l’ where the ‘r’ is in Sorbonne, and the first vowel can be heard as an ‘e’; one may hear it as sell Bonn, but I have made the assumption that it could be meant to be ‘Sorbonne’. In 2012, Michel Houellebecq’s released a novel about France being Islamic in 2022 with the university in Sorbonne becoming an Islamic university.


Here is an example where there are a couple of glitches, but language that is contextually related. In the FS, the Pope is not speaking about Muslims. He is, however, speaking of noble aspirations, and not being led astray by the desires of some.

Projection into RS of what one wants to hear is, of course, a reality. Therefore, one needs to know, linguistically, what is occurring before weighing up the likelihood of certain language. I have done this with Sorbonne, refugee and beard. I know what is going on at a micro level. The next point I need to consider is, do I want it to be these words? Possibly, yes. Yet, I could not accept ‘Selbonn’ as ‘Sorbonne’ without enough contextual evidence to consider it as a reasonable possibility, and there needs be enough that is linguistically appropriate in the other comments that make up the set.

Reverse Speech, of course, is not always clear; distortions occur (distortions occur in FS too). There are two modes communicating occurring in the same space. Elements of RS will get lost in gibberish.

One can get a sense of intelligible of language in general listenings of backwards speech, but is it really what you think is there? The answer may be sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Also, what about someone who speaks English (to some extent), and is speaking in his native language? Can we hear utterances in English?

Zhu Rongji, who was Chairman of the People’s Republic of China until 2003, was talking about relations with the U.S. at the time of the Bush administration. He is speaking in Chinese, however his English is known to be quite good. A general listening gave me the following two potential reversals. Their particular words made it worthwhile to save it at the time and investigate the phonology of it at a later date (which I have now just done).

The audio is not good. The noise from the audio sound has possibly had an effect on some consonants from the FS in determining the RS. Lower quality audio increases the chances of hearing something not there. Therefore, what I have documented is a possibility and nothing more. It may be heard differently.

Reverse: That Bush, he wants to shoot a snowstorm 
Forward: Wo zheng chun bu shi zong kong shou de

That Bush [shou de] – (b) is perceivable as the mouth comes closer together in [ou]; [t] comes from [d]; there is no [th], the constriction at the end of ‘de’ just gives some impression of it. Note the short, suppressed snigger that occurs after ‘Bush’ and while uttering ‘he’. 
he wants to – sh(i zong ka)n – [z] comes from [tst] in the FS; [wa] comes from the [o] in ‘zong’ moving to a more close-mouthed position; however, [n] can be perceived following the movement towards [w] (from [ng] in the FS. The double syllable of ‘zong’ creates the perception of ‘he’ before full articulation of [ng] occurs.
shoot a – ch[un bu sh]I – the bilabial character of (b) in the FS disappears to give an impression of [t], which is interesting; the [n] in the FS has largely disappeared but leaves a clear syllable change to (a) in the RS.
snowstorm [wo zheng ch]un – The sibilant (s) and [n] in ‘snow’ come from the sibilance in [ch] and the nasal [ng]; in ‘storm’, the (st) comes from the sibilance and stop consonant in [zh], and the [m] is perceived from the closed-mouthed [w] in ‘wo’.

Reverse: He’s in love with the bottle (?) you admit. [Note: (?) represents an extra syllable that sounds something like [oi] which may not be heard in a general listening].  
Forward: Chang chi wen din de you hou de guanxin

He’s in love [guanxin] – a weakened [g] and noise from the audio recording, and the release of a nasal [n] in the RS may give the impression of ‘love’ in a wider listening; however, one can also perceive ‘no good’ behind ‘gua[nxin yo t]o’, to approximate ‘ Easy, no good the bottle …’. In reality, it is more an [n] than an [l]. An isolated section of the reversal helps to show the uncertainty (please note: isolated words in FS don’t always deliver the true phonemes of the word). [n] in ‘in’ (RS) comes from [n] in the FS; (s) comes from palatised (s) in the sound of [x] in the FS. The final [n] in the FS disappears in the RS.
with the [hutu] – [w] comes from the rounding of the mouth at final (u); [th] from [t]
bottle – y[o to] – A sense of [l] comes from the movement of the tongue from [o] to [y]; a sense of a (sonorous) bilabial (b) comes from the movement of the mouth to a more closed at the end of [to].
you admit [din de y]o – ‘yer’ (you) comes from [y]; admit comes from [din de]; A general listening will give an impression of [m]; however it is [n] as in ‘adnit’. There is an m/n issue in RS, and acceptance will depend on the efficacy of the rest of the reversal(s).


The RS gives a sense of a Chinese speaker speaking English, and a Chinese-like accent occurs.

Wanting to shoot at a snowstorm is, of course, ridiculous, and this conjures up the idea of a foolish person, who sees threats everywhere, or overreacts towards events.

A close examination of ‘He’s in love with the bottle, you admit’, does not aid certainty about the words. A general listening may give the impression of it, and a close examination may lead one to decide perhaps it is or perhaps it isn’t. In an examination of isolated words in FS, sounds in those words are not always perceivable as the sounds in the word uttered. For example, there are times when an expected alveolar in a word can sound like a velar if listened to closely.

There is an element of me wanting it to be what I have documented, as I find it amusing, and it relates to Bush’s past drinking. But, the more one wants it to so, the more chance of error.

An interesting observation about this Chinese speaker is the movement of rounded vowels in the FS to achieve a sense of a bilabial in the RS (e.g. (b) in ‘bottle’; (b) in ‘Bush’. Twice, the movement of a rounded vowel created an impression of [w], but this is expected.