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Error Analysis : A Recent Pseudoprocedure in Applied Linguistics

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In recent years, applied linguists have been much concerned with the description of linguistic behaviour previously labelled as «deviant». In particular, a technique known as «error analysis» has been developed by means of which it is claimed access is gained to the «transitional competence» of the L2 learner thus making the description of the learner's «interlanguage» and the explanation of the systematic nature of the errors generated by its grammar possible. Such a Technique can, if its claims are justified, be of inestimable value to linguist, teacher and learner but equally, if its claims are false, can lead to invalid assumptions concerning the nature of the «interlanguage», the form of appropriate teaching materials and learning strategies employed by learners.

It is suggested here, that in addition to being based on a number of false assumptions and offering a partly spurious assistance to those engaged in the language learning process, error analysis is in itself, an inadmissable pseudoprocedure which purports to contain a methodology that is, in part, impossible in principle and in part, in practice.

Hence, we need to reconsider the status of the concept «interlanguage», the analytical techniques involved in its description and the validity of the claims made for both.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1974

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