July 25, 2013

Linguists Battle Over Bigfoot Language

Bigfoot Lunch Club

Does Bigfoot have defined phonemes? Phonemes are distinct units of sound, like vowel sounds.

“The vocalizations are an amateur impression of how a proto-language might sound if it evolved from non-human primates” — Karen Stollznow of Scientific American on the Morehead/Berry tapes.

Ms. Stollznow has a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of New England and seems to be critical of Scott Nelson’s credentials. To catch you up, Scott Nelson retired from the Navy after a 17-year career as a crypto-linguist, intercepting Russian communications and decoding them. While his son was listening to the Morehead and Berry Bigfoot audio recordings (a/k/a Sierra Sounds) he detected patterns and perhaps even language.

After Karen introduces the general public on types of Sasquatch evidence she dives right into the possibility of Bigfoot language and the Morehead/Berry Tapes:

A fascinating category of evidence involves claims of a Bigfoot language. Eyewitnesses report hearing howls, whoops, growls, screams, mumbles, whistles and other strange vocalizations in the wild, and attribute these to Bigfoot. Variant forms of Bigfoot are found across cultures, and the Sasquatch, Himalayan Yeti, Australian Yowie and other alleged creatures are similarly believed to produce vocalizations. Other Bigfoot communication includes the mimicry of wildlife and forest sounds, wood-knocking, rock-knocking and rock-throwing. Bigfoot is also thought to form patterns with sticks and rocks as a kind of writing system. In wilder claims about wild men, Bigfoot are believed to have the ability to communicate telepathically, and use their large feet to send infra-sound communication over long distances. Bigfoot are also claimed to speak and understand human languages, and to have their own Bigfoot language.

There is little evidence to support these claims, other than the anecdotal kind. The Sierra Sound recordings, also known as the Berry/Morehead tapes, are touted as the gold-standard of evidence for a Bigfoot language. During a number of expeditions to the Sierra Nevada Mountains between the years 1972-1975, Alan Berry, Ronald Morehead and their crew captured audio recordings of alleged Bigfoot encounters. They recorded a total of 90 minutes of Bigfoot language and vocalizations using a microphone dangled from a tree branch attached to a reel-to-reel recorder. Over the years they also found 18-inch footprints of Bigfoot, and experienced many sightings…just not during the recordings!

Morehead and Berry (until his death in 2012) staunchly deny that the recordings are a prank. However, for a number of reasons, it is highly probable that the recordings are a hoax, or that the crew were hoaxed. The expeditions were undertaken specifically to hunt for Bigfoot. “Bigfoot” was heard but never seen when the recordings were made. It is obvious that other animals made some of the sounds, such as bears. The wood knocks are easy to re-create, while the “language” itself is unconvincing. The vocalizations are an amateur impression of how a proto-language might sound if it evolved from non-human primates. This “Bigfoot” is likely human, and the Sierra Sounds a combination of hoax and misidentification, like all of the other evidence for Bigfoot.Karen Stollznow

Read the rest of Ms. Stollznow’s critiques and our response at Bigfoot Lunch Club.

Guy Edwards About Guy Edwards
Psychology reduces to biology, all biology to chemistry, chemistry to physics, and finally physics to mathematical logic. Guy Edwards is host of the Portland, OR event HopsSquatch.com.

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