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error analysis n the study and analysis of the ERRORs made by second language learners.

Error analysis may be carried out in order to: a identify strategies which learners use in language learning b try to identify the causes of learner errors c obtain information on common difficulties in language learning, as an aid to teaching or in the preparation of teaching materials. Error analysis developed as a branch of APPLIED LINGUISTICS in the 1960s, and set out to demonstrate that many learner errors were not due to the learner’s mother tongue but reflected universal learning strategies. Error analysis was therefore offered as an alternative to CONTRASTIVE ANALYSIS. Attempts were made to develop classifications for different types of errors on the basis of the different processes that were assumed to account for them. A basic distinction was drawn between intralingual and interlingual errors . interlingual error n (in ERROR ANALYSIS) an error which results from LANGUAGE TRANSFER, that is, which is caused by the learner’s native language. For example, the incorrect French sentence Elle regarde les (“She sees them”), produced according to the word order of English, instead of the correct French sentence Elle les regarde (Literally, “She them sees”). An intralingual error is one which results from faulty or partial learning of the TARGET LANGUAGE1, rather than from language transfer. Intralingual errors may be caused by the influence of one target language item upon another. For example a learner may produce He is comes, based on a blend of the English structures He is coming, He comes. Intralingual errors were classified as overgeneralizations (errors caused by extension of target language rules to inappropriate contexts), simplifications (errors resulting from learners producing simpler linguistic rules than those found in the target language), developmental errors (those reflecting natural stages of development), communication-based errors (errors resulting from strategies of communication), induced errors (those resulting from transfer of training), errors of avoidance (resulting from failure to use certain target language structures because they are thought to be too difficult), or errors of overproduction (structures being used too frequently). Attempts to apply such categories have been problematic however, due to the difficulty of determining the cause of errors. By the late 1970s, error analysis had largely been superseded by studies of INTERLANGUAGE and SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION.