‘How Much Correction of Syntactic Errors Are There, Anyway?’
Speech errors are a traditional source of evidence about what speakers have to do, and what they occasionally fail to do, when they talk. In particular, the linguistic patterns in errors are theoretically informative for what they disclose about the language production process. Among the most notable regularities in errors is a strong tendency for the structures of sentences to remain stable when words move around. These stable structural properties provide the backdrop against which slips in speaking have been used to explain how sentences develop before they are produced. This article traces the outlines of speech-error analysis and then turns the focus around to look explicitly at how impervious to error the syntactic properties of language are. The aim is to assess the value of systematic studies of syntactic error for tracing the unfolding of spoken language when people try to say what they mean.