Constraints upon word substitution speech errors

Trevor A. Harley, Siobhan B. G. MacAndrew

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    We explore the features of a corpus of naturally occurring word substitution speech errors. Words are replaced by more imageable competitors in semantic substitution errors but not in phonological substitution errors. Frequency effects in these errors are complex and the details prove difficult for any model of speech production. We argue that word frequency mainly affects phonological errors. Both semantic and phonological substitutions are constrained by phonological and syntactic similarity between the target and intrusion. We distinguish between associative and shared-feature semantic substitutions. Associative errors originate from outside the lexicon, while shared-feature errors arise within the lexicon and occur when particular properties of the targets make them less accessible than the intrusion. Semantic errors arise early while accessing lemmas from a semantic-conceptual input, while phonological errors arise late when accessing phonological forms from lemmas. Semantic errors are primarily sensitive to the properties of the semantic field involved, whereas phonological errors are sensitive to phonological properties of the targets and intrusions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)395-418
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • Speech production
    • Speech errors
    • Lexicalization
    • Frequency
    • Imageability


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