Annals of error: how dig he deeps it

From an MSNBC reporter this morning, with reference to a metaphorical hole:

… wait to see how dig he deeps it … how deep he digs it

The sort of inadvertent error that illustrates just how much advance planning goes on in speech production: constructions are blocked out, with inflectional trappings in place; prospective lexical items — of appropriate syntactic category and semantics, with at least some phonological properties — are entertained to fill the slots in these constructions. But, still, a lot can go wrong.

(Also note that the speaker caught the (glaring) error and corrected it himself. As is customary with big errors like this one.)

From my 2/26/18 posting, “A Rhymes word reversal”, on the previous day’s

Rhymes With Orange, with a word exchange (also known as word reversal, word metathesis, and word-level spoonerism [or chiastic error]):

Here’s where the bodies are buried
–> Here’s where the berries are bodied

[As was] noticed long ago: on the whole, so-called word exchanges are actually stem exchanges, in which the stems are transposed, leaving transparent inflectional and derivational affixes in their original positions.

… Two similar, but somewhat simpler, examples from my files:

dog lovers know
–> dog knowers love

shoot that fucking load
–> fuck that shooting load

In all these cases, two lexeme stems are being entertained for some slot, but the wrong one gets picked, and the other one then gets used for another slot; typically, the two stems were intended for two adjacent slots with sentence accent.

Two factors are likely to promote a competition between the fillers for these slots, and therefore an error in filling the first slot:

shared grammatical category: Vs LOVE and KNOW, Vs SHOOT and FUCK

shared phonological properties: N BODY and V BURY, but both are disyllables with accent pattern SW, with the word onset /b/, and with final /i/

The MSNBC example is of the second type:

Adj DEEP and V DIG, but both are closed monosyllables with onset /d/

(Accent pattern and word onsets seem to be the most salient properties, but the significance of these factors would need to be tested against a large sample of inadvertent word reversals, which so far as I know hasn’t been collected.)

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