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Oswald's language abilities and evidence related to his Soviet soujourn (1959-63)


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Sandy Larsen writes that Jim Hargrove writes:

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Oswald scored as well in a Russian-language exam as he did in tests of his English.

The assumption seems to be that the tests were pitched at the same level. But it is unlikely that they were, since one was aimed at people whose native language was English, and the other at people learning a foreign language. The equivalent score in each test would indicate a higher level of competence in the former than the latter.

For those who want to check the sources, Oswald's Marine records were interpreted by Colonel Allison Folsom (a he, not a she) in Warren Commission Hearings, vol.8, pp.309-310 (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=36#relPageId=317) .

The pages of Oswald's records referred to by Col. Folsom are:

- Folsom Exhibit no.1, p.106 (Hearings, vol.19, p.745): https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1136#relPageId=763 [Good luck trying to make sense of this one].

- Folsom Exhibit no.1, p.120 (Hearings, vol.19, p.757): https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=1136#relPageId=775.

This is the relevant section of Folsom's testimony:

Mr Ely: And am I correct in asserting that on this [English] test Oswald received a rating of satisfactory?

Colonel Folsom: This is correct. I believe USAF1 rates as satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

Mr Ely: Right. Well, that is not entirely clear [They are trying to make sense of the document at p.106]. We have a rating code printed in the lower right-hand corner.

Colonel Folsom: Well, they have two passing ones - satisfactory, and "D" with distinction, and "U2", unsatisfactory.

Mr Ely: So he could have received a higher rating than he did?

Colonel Folsom: This is correct.

So Oswald may have reached the "with distinction" level for his English, although no-one seems sure of this, since the document on p.106 isn't easy to interpret. The document on p.120 shows that Oswald's score for "RV" (reading and vocabulary in English) was noticeably higher than his score for "arithmetic computation, arithmetical reasoning, and pattern analysis".

There are two conclusions to draw from this:

1 - Oswald's English was probably much better than his Russian at that stage, in March 1959.

2 - I've just wasted 20 minutes of my time.

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Official 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine is that the long-term doppelganger scheme required its defecting doppelganger to have been a native speaker of Russian, so that he could understand what was being said around him in the Soviet Union. I'm glad that's been settled.

Unfortunately, it leaves the believers with a problem. The doppelganger who was required to be a native speaker of Russian was given a task which did not require him to be a native speaker of Russian. The masterminds could have sent someone who had only a reasonably good level of Russian.

The hypothetical long-term native-speaker doppelganger scheme was redundant. There was no need to have spent years recruiting and maintaining two virtually identical Oswalds, one of whom was a native speaker of Russian, not to mention two virtually identical Marguerites, their support staff, and all the other unlikely elements of this far-fetched scheme.

Why bother? Surely there would have been plenty of American servicemen (or women) sufficiently intelligent and motivated to learn Russian to a reasonably good level, given official encouragement. All that the masterminds had to do was find one and provide him (or her) with whatever extra tuition was required.

The 'Harvey and Lee' theory is both internally incoherent and unnecessary. You don't need to invent a top-secret long-term doppelganger scheme in order to account for Oswald's competence in Russian, or to explain his defection as some sort of intelligence operation, and certainly not to interpret the JFK assassination as a conspiracy.

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On 8/15/2020 at 11:59 AM, Joe Bauer said:

Minor Oswald speaking observation that may have no significance but ...

"Axed" versus "Asked."

When a handcuffed and disheveled Oswald was allowed to face the press crowd in the frantic Dallas Police Department building for a couple of minutes in between being hustled from room to room late Friday night on 11,22,1963, he was presented with questions from them.

This is when Oswald was asked "did you kill the President?" Oswald responded " no. I have not been charged with that " ...

"the first thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall ... AXED me that question."

I noticed this slight specific word pronunciation variance by Oswald a long time ago while first watching this video and 100 X since.

I whimsically thought to myself it sounded like a variance one hears some African Americans use in their pronunciation of the word..."ask."  Similar to variant ( or invariant?) pronunciations of other words like "pOlice."

Some cite these word variances as part of a specific African American linguistic speaking pattern called "Ebonics."

I do not in anyway mean to mention or frame this comparative variant word pronunciation observation in a racially biased way. 

Some may laugh at my even mentioning this obscure one word variance observation in Oswald's 11,22,1963 police department press interview but here is my point.

If Oswald's "axed" versus "asked" word pronunciation wasn't the result of hours of simple nervous, physical even frightened exhaustion resulting in a dry mouth garbling of that one word, I had a fleeting thought that it was due to Oswald being raised in the deep South ( especially Creole New Orleans) and hearing black ebonic American speech so often he unconsciously spoke the word in a way that he grew up hearing as often as the white English pronunciation.

I wondered if this could have shown that the Oswald we saw in the Friday night Dallas Police Department press appearance, the Oswald we heard loudly claim "I am just a patsy", was truly someone raised in this country from birth.

Surely a planted foreign born Oswald double would not be so fined tuned and prepped with such obscure regional and racial difference dialect subtleties in his English speaking.

Probably nothing more than my suspicious imagination running wild but then again,  nothing is too "out there" when it comes to the JFK assassination and the 10,000 conflicting even confounding stories and observations related to it, no?

 
AUTOPLAY
 
 
 

Joe makes a very valid observation here.

I don't know if there is any empirical evidence to support this, but I 100% believe a person's speech patterns and idiosyncrasies are a direct result of cultural and class structure influences. Words such as aight/alright, axed/asked, pacific/specific/, and even words such as ain't are spoken by specific types of people. As Joe mentioned, much of this is part of what people refer to as "Ebonics" but it is also common with lower class people versus middle and upper class people.

In my hometown we have a fairly large specific Eastern European community. This is largely a Romanian population, but there are some other people who are part of this community who are not Romanian but probably in some form identify with the European members of the community. I've known many of these people for years and have went to school and knew many of these people in later life. I have never seen any of them adopt our idiosyncrasies such as pacific and axe or even ain't. I'm not saying it is unheard of, just in my personal experience it has never happened.

I don't for a single moment believe the person in the video saying "axed me the question" is anything other than an American born in the South.

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22 hours ago, Sandy Larsen said:

 

I don't believe that John Butler's two-Oswald theory is the same as John Armstrong's and Jim's.

 

Sandy,

It is basically the same.  There are very minor differences.  I generally defer to Jim since he has more experience with the story and his memory is often better than mine.

Currently I am exploring a significant difference on which Oswald was in Russia first and whether both were there at sometime.  And, it is a significant difference.

Basically, there is unaccounted time for Lee Oswald from the fall of 1959 to the fall of 1960.  The three references for this period has Lee Oswald in Europe and Russia. 

If this proves to be valid then our notions would diverge.  If not then there is no difference.  By exploring this idea I am challenging the evidence that says Harvey Oswald is in Russia first and alone.  What evidence is there for this?  Discarding the photographic record, since Jim and James say this is not reliable, then what evidence is there for Harvey Oswald to be there first?

Harvey Oswald's autopsy report mentions he has suicide scars on his left wrist and forearm.  This is in accord with the story of Harvey in Russia cutting his wrist.  A DPD photo shows Harvey with a suicide scar on his right wrist that is not mentioned in the autopsy report.  I really don't know what to think of that except it might taint the evidence of suicide scars. 

The belief that Harvey Oswald was there first I think comes from his language ability and the notion this would make him more eligible to be there instead of Lee Oswald.  I point out that Lee had superior military knowledge than Harvey.  Harvey spent a year in New Orleans AWOL while Lee spent that year at the CIA's top post in the orient with all kinds of super secret projects going on there.. 

Outside of the suicide scar and this belief what else is there?  There is signatures and handwriting analysis.  But, I think that is argued to be valid or not valid by some.

Do we just assume it is Harvey and not Lee?  If I am wrong on this then point out what evidence says that Harvey Oswald was first and alone in the Soviet Union during his defection.

I think I make a good point about KGB interrogations.  I think I bring up evidence that at least questions the idea that Harvey was first.

But, as I wrote in response to Jim there is no real evidence for either.  If there is please point it out.   

 

Edited by John Butler
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1 hour ago, John Butler said:

Harvey Oswald's autopsy report mentions he has suicide scars on his left wrist and forearm.  This is in accord with the story of Harvey in Russia cutting his wrist.

For crying out loud. The actual human being whose autopsy report you are referencing is the one and only historical Lee Harvey Oswald.

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On 8/17/2020 at 10:32 AM, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Sandy Larsen writes that Jim Hargrove writes:

The assumption seems to be that the tests were pitched at the same level. But it is unlikely that they were, since one was aimed at people whose native language was English, and the other at people learning a foreign language.

Jeremy,

this may be interesting:

The DLPT5 is designed to assess the general language proficiency in reading and listening of native speakers of English who have learned a foreign language as a second language. The DLPT5 tests measure proficiency as defined by the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Skill Level Descriptions, levels 0+ – 4 (see Appendix A). All DLPT5s will be delivered on the computer. DLPT5s in many languages include both a Lower-Range test and an Upper-Range test. The Lower-Range test measures ILR proficiency levels 0+ - 3, while the Upper-Range measures ILR proficiency levels 3 - 4. Examinees will normally take the lower-range DLPT5; those who receive a score of 3 on this test may be eligible to take the upperrange test, depending on the policy of their institution. The DLPT5 will be used to make operational readiness, incentive pay, and training decisions for civilian and military language analysts in the United States government.

Source: http://www.dliflc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Generic-Fam-Guide-MC-CBu-updated.pdf

As far as I know Oswald took only one Russian test. So it probably was "only" a lower-range test.

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On 8/15/2020 at 6:59 PM, Joe Bauer said:

Minor Oswald speaking observation that may have no significance but ...

"Axed" versus "Asked."

When a handcuffed and disheveled Oswald was allowed to face the press crowd in the frantic Dallas Police Department building for a couple of minutes in between being hustled from room to room late Friday night on 11,22,1963, he was presented with questions from them.

This is when Oswald was asked "did you kill the President?" Oswald responded " no. I have not been charged with that " ...

"the first thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall ... AXED me that question."

I noticed this slight specific word pronunciation variance by Oswald a long time ago while first watching this video and 100 X since.

I whimsically thought to myself it sounded like a variance one hears some African Americans use in their pronunciation of the word..."ask."  Similar to variant ( or invariant?) pronunciations of other words like "pOlice."

Some cite these word variances as part of a specific African American linguistic speaking pattern called "Ebonics."

I do not in anyway mean to mention or frame this comparative variant word pronunciation observation in a racially biased way. 

Some may laugh at my even mentioning this obscure one word variance observation in Oswald's 11,22,1963 police department press interview but here is my point.

If Oswald's "axed" versus "asked" word pronunciation wasn't the result of hours of simple nervous, physical even frightened exhaustion resulting in a dry mouth garbling of that one word, I had a fleeting thought that it was due to Oswald being raised in the deep South ( especially Creole New Orleans) and hearing black ebonic American speech so often he unconsciously spoke the word in a way that he grew up hearing as often as the white English pronunciation.

I wondered if this could have shown that the Oswald we saw in the Friday night Dallas Police Department press appearance, the Oswald we heard loudly claim "I am just a patsy", was truly someone raised in this country from birth.

Surely a planted foreign born Oswald double would not be so fined tuned and prepped with such obscure regional and racial difference dialect subtleties in his English speaking.

Probably nothing more than my suspicious imagination running wild but then again,  nothing is too "out there" when it comes to the JFK assassination and the 10,000 conflicting even confounding stories and observations related to it, no?

 
AUTOPLAY
 
 
 

 

 

 

Joe,

that's an interesting observation.

Here Oswald can be heard reading to Ernst Titovetz: http://www.russianbooks.org/oswald/tapes.htm

The tape was recorded for the purpose of helping Ernst improve his English pronunciation.

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On 8/17/2020 at 2:34 AM, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Official 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine is that the long-term doppelganger scheme required its defecting doppelganger to have been a native speaker of Russian, so that he could understand what was being said around him in the Soviet Union. I'm glad that's been settled.

 

I believe that the designers of the Oswald Project had higher aspirations than that. I think they hoped Oswald could perform multiple missions in Russia or with Russians, and that his speaking without an American accent would prove useful for those missions.

 

On 8/17/2020 at 2:34 AM, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Unfortunately, it leaves the believers with a problem. The doppelganger who was required to be a native speaker of Russian was given a task which did not require him to be a native speaker of Russian. The masterminds could have sent someone who had only a reasonably good level of Russian.

 

Even if they were lucky enough to find a young man willing to learn Russian and willing to perform a dangerous mission in Russia, they'd end up with a person who spoke Russian with an American accent. And who knows what level of Russian proficiency he could achieve.

 

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Mathias Baumann writes:

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As far as I know Oswald took only one Russian test. So it probably was "only" a lower-range test.

That's very likely. What sort of native speaker takes a basic test in his own language and then doesn't get full marks in that test? If that's the sort of native speaker the 'Harvey and Lee' long-term doppelganger scheme recruited, the scheme could have managed just as easily with a non-native speaker. And if it only needed a non-native speaker, it might as well not have existed, which of course it didn't.

Joe Bauer writes:

Quote

Surely a planted foreign born Oswald double would not be so fined tuned and prepped with such obscure regional and racial difference dialect subtleties in his English speaking.

Mark Stevens writes:

Quote

I don't for a single moment believe the person in the video saying "axed me the question" is anything other than an American born in the South.

Those subtleties are exactly the things that distinguish native from non-native speakers, except in very rare cases of thoroughly assimilated non-native speakers. But we know that Oswald cannot have been a thoroughly assimilated native Russian speaker because of his relatively poor result in his Marines language test, not to mention the fact that he was still making grammatical mistakes in Russian after having lived in the Soviet Union for two and a half years.

He was a native speaker of English, not a native speaker of Russian. And since he wasn't a native speaker of Russian, he cannot have been part of the imaginary 'Harvey and Lee' long-term doppelganger scheme.

Incidentally, the 'ask/aks' switch is an example of metathesis, a well-known historical feature of many, if not most or all, languages. The modern English verb 'to ask' had in fact been through this process once before, when it was the Anglo-Saxon verb 'axian'. One linguistic community somewhere in medieval England began transposing the consonants, as Oswald's American linguistic community was to do hundreds of years later, and it caught on and became the accepted pronunciation.

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Sandy Larsen writes:

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I believe that the designers of the Oswald Project ... hoped Oswald could perform multiple missions in Russia or with Russians, and that his speaking without an American accent would prove useful for those missions.

Problem 1: Belief is all it is. What evidence is there to support the notion of "multiple missions in Russia" in which "speaking [Russian] without an American accent would prove useful"?

Problem 2: What sort of missions might these have been, given that the doppelganger's original mission involved him pretending to be an American? Was he supposed to re-defect, this time speaking perfect Russian with a native Russian accent, perhaps wearing a wig and fake glasses? Or, during his one trip to the Soviet Union, was he supposed to switch after a year or two as an American to the guise of a native Russian speaker? How would any of this be possible, since there was no way for the 'Harvey and Lee' masterminds to predict where in the Sovet Union the defector would be sent by the authorities? Also, did any of these missions involve the use of a bullet-proof Aston Martin with machine guns in the headlights and an ejector seat?

Problem 3: The phrase 'Oswald Project' was coined by James Wilcott, whose concept contradicted all of the crazy features that are essential and unique elements of 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine. His Oswald was one person with one mother (not a pair of doppelgangers, each with a doppelganger mother), a native speaker of English (not of Russian), and was recruited while in the Marines (not several years earlier). 

Problem 4: When Oswald returned to the USA after two and a half years in the Soviet Union, he was still making frequent grammatical errors in Russian. How is this consistent with the notion that he was a native speaker of Russian? If the defector was not a native speaker of Russian, that's the end of the line for the 'Harvey and Lee' theory.

Problem 5: How does Sandy's notion fit in with the thinking of John Butler, who is perhaps the leading theoretician currently working in the field of 'Harvey and Lee' studies? John's in-depth research and clear critical thinking lead him to conclude that there may have been three Oswalds, and that two of them were in the Soviet Union at the same time.

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Even if they were lucky enough to find a young man willing to learn Russian and willing to perform a dangerous mission in Russia, they'd end up with a person who spoke Russian with an American accent. And who knows what level of Russian proficiency he could achieve.

Firstly, there were plenty of servicemen to choose from. According to https://historyinpieces.com/research/us-military-personnel-1954-2014, there were around 2.5 million US servicemen (of whom 175,000 were Marines) in 1959, the year of the real-life, historical Lee Harvey Oswald's defection. Finding a suitable defector wouldn't have involved much in the way of luck.

Secondly, the mission wasn't particularly dangerous. The Soviet authorities executed some of their own traitors, but they wouldn't have done that to American false defectors.

Thirdly, an American accent is precisely what would be expected of a defector with Oswald's cover story; see https://reopenkennedycase.forumotion.net/t2208p25-dear-sandy#34400.

Fourthly, it wouldn't have been difficult to find (and, if necessary, train) an American able to understand Russian to the level that 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine demanded.

We are left with the problem that 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine required its defecting doppelganger to be a native speaker of Russian in order to perform a task that did not require a native speaker of Russian. The theory has been going for two decades or so. Did none of the believers ever think this stuff through?

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3 hours ago, Jeremy Bojczuk said:
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I believe that the designers of the Oswald Project ... hoped Oswald could perform multiple missions in Russia or with Russians, and that his speaking without an American accent would prove useful for those missions.

Problem 1: Belief is all it is.

 

What it is is a hypothesis. Scientists hypothesize all the time to make sense out of the available evidence.

 

Quote

What evidence is there to support the notion of "multiple missions in Russia" in which "speaking [Russian] without an American accent would prove useful"?

 

The supporting evidence -- in the framework of the two-Oswald theory -- is the fact that the designers of the Oswald Project chose a native speaker of Russian for the mission rather than a Russian-taught spy who'd likely have an American accent. I designed the hypothesis to explain why they did this.

You would have known this if you understood how hypotheses are used within (larger) theories.

 

Edited by Sandy Larsen
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“He may have begun to study the Russian language when he was stationed in Japan, which was intermittently from August 1957 to November 1958.”  [WCR, p. 256]

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In 1995 I met and spoke with Zack Stout, who was living in El Dorado, KS. Zack was a fellow Marine who remembered the day that LEE Oswald arrived in Japan. He and Oswald became close friends and worked together every day for the next 10 months either in the radar bubble in Atsugi, the Philippines, Subic Bay, aboard ship, and were sometimes together while on liberty. LEE was assigned a bunk on the first level of barracks #5, a large two-story wood frame building that housed 72 men. Oswald slept on the upper bunk that he shared with Robert Augg, who slept on the lower bunk. I asked Zack if Oswald spoke or practiced speaking Russian in Japan. Zack answered, "Where do people come up with these stupid ideas. That's ridiculous. No, he never spoke Russian or had a Russian book or a Russian newspaper. If he had any of those things, all of us would have known about it."  [HarveyandLee.net, Marine Corps and Soviet Union, emphasis added]

Does anyone here believe Oswald taught himself the Russian language while in the Marines?

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3 hours ago, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Secondly, the mission wasn't particularly dangerous. The Soviet authorities executed some of their own traitors, but they wouldn't have done that to American false defectors.

 

Oh yeah? Look at what the CIA did to Yuri Nosenko. Do you think that in the 1950s the CIA thought Russians would be softer on spies they'd catch?

 

3 hours ago, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Thirdly, an American accent is precisely what would be expected of a defector with Oswald's cover story; see https://reopenkennedycase.forumotion.net/t2208p25-dear-sandy#34400.

 

You are ignoring my hypothesis. Other missions... remember? In the false defector mission the accent didn't matter because Oswald pretended to speak broken Russian.

 

3 hours ago, Jeremy Bojczuk said:

Fourthly, it wouldn't have been difficult to find (and, if necessary, train) an American able to understand Russian to the level that 'Harvey and Lee' doctrine demanded.

 

Other missions.

 

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