An interesting slip of the tongue by Theresa May at Prime Minister’s question time occurred on Wednesday and suggested that perhaps we had voted for rather more than we thought during the EU referendum in 2016!

Word Substitution

The slip (or speech error as some call it) was a classic word substitution error made by swapping the intended target (‘EU’) with a semantically similar referent (‘UK’). This is seen in line 03 below. May quickly corrected her mistake but the humour of this slip was not lost on the House as they burst into laughter and cheers. Even May herself had to laugh at her own mistake.

Theresa May
01 which will be reinforced
02 by the forthcoming defence industrial dialogue
03 as we leave the UK
04 er as we leave the EU
05 we all we have to
06   ((laughter and cheers – May laughs))
07        (10.0)
08 as we
09 as we leave the European Union
10 we have an opportunity as a UK
11 to build on that closer relationship
12 with allies like Australia
13 and that’s exactly what we’re doing

External link to clip

Slip of the tongue are a nature part of speech and this one would be classified as word substitution. Errors of this nature often produce comical effects as shown in this slip by Andrew Davies.

Eyes down, look in!

Here is your Bingo card for spotting slips of the tongues. You will find several on this website by searching for ‘Slip of the Tongue’ on the top menu. After this, see if you can spot your own slips on the TV and radio.


A definition of the type of slips is given here.

PMQs, The House of Commons, 4th July 2018