Slips of the Tongue

Some slips of the tongue (speech errors) for analysis. Latest ones on top.

7. Betrayal /Portrayal

An interesting slip of the tongue by Andrew Marr on his Sunday show in line 05 below. Marr meant to say ‘portrayal’ but actually said ‘betrayal’. He had just finished interviewing the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in which they had discussed the use of language in politics. ‘Betrayal’ was one of the words they had discussed and it seems like this word was primed in memory and ready to interfere when Marr moved to the next item. Marr didn’t try to correct this mistake which is unusual since most speakers do hesitate and repair. ‘Betrayal’ and ‘portrayal’ are phonologically similar which might also account for the slip. 

  • betrayal /bɪˈtreɪəl/
  • portrayal /pɔːˈtreɪəl/
Andrew Marr, BBC, 29th September 2019
01 in a career that's seen her crowned with every possible honour
02 Dame Helen Miren
03 is no stranger to monarchy
04 she won an Oscar of course in two thousand and six
05 for her betrayal of the Queen

External link to clip

Older slips ===>

6. Beth Rigby

Adam Boulton, Sky TV, 4th July 2019
01 and Beth is rigby now er
02 Beth Rigby is with me now ((laughs))
03 er er Beth er

External link to audio

5. Jeremy *unt

Victoria Derbyshire, BBC One, 10th June 2019
01: Steve Bryne
02: you say that the the man that you're backing
03: Jeremy Cunt
04: I'm so sorry
05: Jeremy Hunt 
06: I've never said that before in my life
07: it's usually men who say that 
08: so I really really want to apologise
09: I'm sorry

External link to audio

4. Chris fifth

BBC Radio 4 : talking about Chris Froome
01: well it's good to hear you say that
02: because he's thirty four now isn't he
03: and in terms of winning a Chris
04: er er er a fifth erm title
05: which he really craved in the Tour de France
06: riders rarely do it at that age

External link to audio

3. When Larry met Gary (Jon Snow)

Speech error is in line 06:

Jon Snow (Channel 4 News)
01 at Whitehall
02 the Conservative and Labour Brexit talks
03 started again (.) after the Easter Break
04 but (.) our political editor Gary Gibbon
05 is in the commons
06 Larry
07 er Gary
08 tell me this
09 is (.) Mrs May bracing herself for a erm
10 challenge in the summer do you think?

External link to clip

2. Kirsty Wark

The slip occurs in line 04 when Wark starts to utter the word ‘Instagram’ instead of ‘Amsterdam’. Wark recognises her error in 05 and corrects it in 06.

Kirsty Wark (Newsnight)
01 Amy Orben is a lecture for Oxford University
02 specializing in the effects of hu-
03 social media on human interaction (.)
04 she joins us from Insta-
05 er from Instagram (.)
06 from Amsterdam ((laughs))
07 thank you both very indeed for (joining us)
...

External link to clip

This is classified as a word substitution speech error but there are interesting phonological similarities between the word which suggest why the slip might have been made. In IPA the two words can be written thus:

  • /æm.stə.dæm/
  • /ɪn.stə.ɡræm/

Both have three syllables with the stress on the first syllable. The middle syllable is the same and the final syllables rhyme.

Classification: Word substitution due to phonological similarity

1. BBC News Reader

The slip occurs in line 04 ‘Tump’ when the target was ‘Trump’. This is repaired in line 05 before the news reader moves on.

BBC News Reader (radio 4 Today programme)
01 the Brazilian president (.) Jair Bolsonaro
02 will meet Donald Trump
03 for talks at the White House later today
04 an outspoken admirer of President Tump
05 (0.2) Trump (.)
06 Mr Bolsonaro
07 has said he’s seeking a new era
08 of close relations with the U.S.
...

External link to clip (audio)


1. BBC Radio 4, Today programme, 19th March 2019
2. BBC Newsnight, 1st February 2019

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0c1stn6/newsnight-01022019

3. Channel 4 News, 23rd April 2019 (about 41 mins)

7. The Andrew Marr Show, BBC, 29th September 2019

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