Repeated speech errors: Evidence for learning
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Three experiments elicited phonological speech errors using the SLIP procedure to investigate whether there is a tendency for speech errors on specific words to reoccur, and whether this effect can be attributed to implicit learning of an incorrect mapping from lemma to phonology for that word. In Experiment 1, when speakers made a phonological speech error in the study phase of the experiment (e.g. saying "beg pet" in place of "peg bet") they were over four times as likely to make an error on that same item several minutes later at test. A pseudo-error condition demonstrated that the effect is not simply due to a propensity for speakers to repeat phonological forms, regardless of whether or not they have been made in error. That is, saying "beg pet" correctly at study did not induce speakers to say "beg pet" in error instead of "peg bet" at test. Instead, the effect appeared to be due to learning of the error pathway. Experiment 2 replicated this finding, but also showed that after 48 h, errors made at study were no longer more likely to reoccur. As well as providing constraints on the longevity of the effect, this provides strong evidence that the error reoccurrences observed are not due to item-specific difficulty that leads individual speakers to make habitual mistakes on certain items. Experiment 3 showed that the diminishment of the effect 48 h later is not due to specific extra practice at the task. We discuss how these results fit in with a larger view of language as a dynamic system that is constantly adapting in response to experience.
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