Linguistics: Lab Induced Errors Essay


Discuss about the Linguistics for Lab Induced Errors.



A slip of the tongue is indelibly associated with errors or also referred to as faulty actions by Sigmund Freud. He considered them distinguished for expressing an unconscious belief, thought, motive or wish. The unconscious thoughts are revealed through special blunder. Slips have unseen meanings that make it unattractive, for example: pronouncing ‘beef’ as ‘meef’ and reflect repressed anxieties.

A slip of the tongue is an interesting topic for psycholinguistic research. This is because Freud considered the slips due to the speaker’s motives and hidden anxieties. Thereby, a series of cognitive processes are responsible for the production of speech and language. Spoken language is highly complicated and involves mysterious human behaviors.

Freudian reasoning cannot provide justification for all slips of the tongue. This is because Freud opined that there are hidden meanings of all sorts of verbal slips. Especially, he mentioned slips of tongue as reflection of speaker’s hidden motives and anxieties. However, this hypothesis was not accepted by the researchers focusing on cognitive processes associated with speech and language production. It was also mentioned that ‘Freudian slip’ is quite hard to analyze in the lab and therefore, was neglected supporting many hypotheses, which were simple to test. Those who oppose ‘Freudian slip’ tended to consider speech production as autonomous process with no influences by anxieties or motives inappropriate to speaker’s aimed message.

Various techniques have been designed to understand verbal slips, which are unintentional by the speaker, however, predictable by the experimenter. Spoonerism is an effective method that induces verbal slip types. Verbal slips are transposition of phonemes between nearly adjacent or adjacent words. For instance, ‘’shred hinker’ in place of ‘head shrinker’ is an example from natural speech. In order to produce spoonerisms in the lab, such words are considered. Individual pairs is flashed on a screen, especially a computer screen and pair of words are showed at certain time intervals. A reader read the pair silently unless a buzzer sound is presented and in that sound the words are read aloud. The signaled word pairs are the targets, which is unknown to the reader. The signaled word pairs are headed on the list by few other words that are contrived. This is to ensure that the phonemes likely to be transposed in spoonerism, are by now in their reordered positions. For instance, ‘head shrinker’ might be preceded by ‘shrinking shoulder’, which creates adequate bias towards error with the purpose that for any average subject, one per three targets causes a spoonerism. Spoonerisms could be elicited in the lab using. The sequence ‘a’ indicates phonological biasing, a subject is prompted to transpose phonemes in between two words. The word pairs were read silently. On a buzzer, the subject was asked to say a word pair aloud. The previous pairs were contrived without informing subject, with the intension that their phonemes duplicate expected error. This predisposes subjects toward a spoonerism. Slips for example, ‘nosy cooks’ in place of ‘cozy nooks’.

As depicted in the graph, Freudian Slips were induced. The subjects like graduate males saw same series of word pairs (Motley, 1985). They were informed that they would be treated with electric shock treatment. Though no shock was given, out of anxiety spoonerisms were elicited linked to electricity, like the subject said ‘cursed wattage’ instead of ‘worst cottage’.

The graph also demonstrated eliciting spoonerism in the presence of sexual content. In this context, it was shown that presence of woman aroused sexual anxiety. The subject said ‘past fashion’ instead of ‘fast passion’. This further support Freud’s hypothesis that slips of tongue is due to hidden anxieties.

These results could be accounted for using the idea of spreading activation. The wordlist is considered to be organized with the aim that individual word is connected with associated words. Apparently, the meanings build within a message is read for expression assist to activate the related associations. It is thought that activation spread in a chain-wise manner, where strength fades and diffuses as it extents.

Slips of tongue tend to result in real words. There are two possible explanations of this bias: first is that the spreading-activation wordlist provides involuntary protection contrary toabnormal utterances. As lexicon comprises only useable items, activation within it not likely to produce anomalous and new ones. To the level that slips arise prior the items are selected from lexicon, thus the justification is significant. Anotherexplanation present a review process befalls well following themattersthat are nominated from the wordlist but prior articulation. It could be said that an imminentexpression is "rewritten" for language integrity. This view is also viable, mainly to the level that slips of tongue arise later to the items that are selected from lexicon.

Examples of slips of tongue that provide evidence for phonological, syntactic and semantics speech planning. Verbal slips are the errors tend to act as sound hat are linguistically valid. Like: slips from original words are common compare to slips from nonsense words. ‘Barn door’ instead of ‘darn bore’ is much common than ‘bartdoard’ in place of ‘dart board’. This type of slips are semantics. Syntactically legitimate verbal slips predominate over verbal slips, which are syntactically anomalous, for instance ‘did con’ in place of ‘kid don’ is more likely to happen than ‘did cared’ in place of ‘kid dared’ and represents. Phonological anomalies are ‘meef’ instead ‘beef’ or ‘cozy nooks for ‘nosy cooks’. It is said that the word pair ‘bad mug’ probably elicit error if headed by conceptually similar words like ‘irate wasp’ rather if preceded by conceptually irrelevant words. The displacement of such phonemes are probably due to slips in respect to the English linguistic that outlaws certain combinations of phonemes at the initiation of a word.


Motley, M. T. (1985). Slips of the tongue. Scientific American, 253(3), 116-127.

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