Slips of the Tongue – “Child free tax care”

A few weeks ago I reported on a slip of the tongue by David Cameron in the House of Commons. Here is another slip, this time by Conservative MP, Andrea Leadsom, during the EU referendum debate.

Andrea Leadsom
01: shared parental leave
02: child free tax care
03: er child- child (.)
04: tax free child care
05: and it’s this country
      ((laughter))
...

External link to audio clip here

The slip occurs in line 02 and can be termed a ‘word exchange’ error. The words ‘child’ and ‘tax’ have been inadvertently exchanged in the mind before being overtly articulated.

02: child free tax care

The speaker goes through a repair procedure when she realises the mistake. This consists of a filled pause (‘er’), repetition of some of the utterance (‘child- child’) and a short pause as the mind searches for the correct utterance.

03: er child- child (.)

Before delivering the correct expression in line 04:

04: tax free child care

The laughter from the audience indicates that they have heard the error.

Thank you Andrea for this example although I’m sure you didn’t mean to make this error as most speech errors are not planned and usually unavoidable. They do however provide us with an insight into how the mind processes language.


Andrea Leadson, June 2016, TV debate
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