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Mistake Vs. Error - definition
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Brix



Joined: 28 Sep 2005
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject: Mistake Vs. Error - definition Reply with quote

I should know this, and I've searched.

But I don't know the technical difference.


(If this is not appropriate for Pronunciation, apologies.)


Can anyone provide any definitions, examples, and possible links?


Thanks, B.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1372
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My goodness, I always thought a mistake and an error were the same. Perhaps you can explain your request a little better? If it's a linguistics issue, and not a pronunciation issue, I can move the post to "Applied Linguistics." There might be some esoteric definition that I don't know. Wink
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John Hall



Joined: 20 Jan 2007
Posts: 31
Location: Costa Rica

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had never heard that there was a difference between a mistake and an error until a certain trainer of mine brought it up. A mistake is a wrong response that if you thought about it you would realize is wrong. An error is a wrong response because you have no knowledge about what the right answer is. A student, if given a second chance, has the potential to correct a mistake, whereas a student has no potential to correct an error until he or she learns what is correct.

In a nutshell, errors you make because you don't know better, and mistakes you make despite the fact that you know better.
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Brix



Joined: 28 Sep 2005
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Hall wrote:
I had never heard that there was a difference between a mistake and an error until a certain trainer of mine brought it up. A mistake is a wrong response that if you thought about it you would realize is wrong. An error is a wrong response because you have no knowledge about what the right answer is. A student, if given a second chance, has the potential to correct a mistake, whereas a student has no potential to correct an error until he or she learns what is correct.

In a nutshell, errors you make because you don't know better, and mistakes you make despite the fact that you know better.


Lorikeet, thanks for the note. (I believe this belong in linguistics, sorry.)

John Hall, thanks for the response.

This is a bit esoteric, but I feel like I need to have this info.


Thanks!

--B
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1422

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In a nutshell, errors you make because you don't know better, and mistakes you make despite the fact that you know better.
Your friend's mistaken; he's in error.

The distinction does not exist outside of his own head. You can make a mistake because you don't know any better, or pass on erroneous information even though you would have realized it was wrong if you had paid a little more attention.
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John Hall



Joined: 20 Jan 2007
Posts: 31
Location: Costa Rica

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stephen,

This distinction does not exist only in my own head. As I mentioned, I am only passing on what some other teachers have told me. I don't know how popular this distinction is, or where it came from. I also suspect that it is not in the dictionary. However, I have encountered more than one teacher in my career who has made reference to this distinction. Also, why do you think the OP asked this question in the first place?
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1422

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't say the distinction existed only in your own head. You're mistaken; that is an erroneous assumption. I said it only existed in the head of the person who told you; in fact there are many others who claim there is a dichotomy, error belonging to competence, and mistake to performance but it is not a question of linguistics having given the word a special technical meaning, as 'work' has in mechanics for example, or 'langue' and 'parole' do in linguistics proper.

Rather we are again dealing with the bane of linguistics. The lack of an agreed terminology. You can find plenty of papers and discussions by linguists where the distinction between error and mistake is maintained, and just as many where the two are used interchangeably.
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Jonathan_fu



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:03 am    Post subject: Difference between mistake and error Reply with quote

Idea A mistake is a random performance slip, and can be really self-corrected, whereas an error is a systematic deviation made by learners who have not yet mastered the rules of the target language.
For example, the word "forum" appears several times in a piece of writing, but "forom" shows twice among these words. At this time, we cannot say the author makes an error, instead, we have to say he or she just makes a spelling mistake for carelessness or something else!
Smile
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jotham



Joined: 16 Nov 2006
Posts: 507

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mirriam Websters seems to say that mistake leans more on a smaller scale, as if it's no big deal; and error points to significant boo-boos in the bigger scheme of things:
http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/error
Quote:
ERROR suggests the existence of a standard or guide and a straying from the right course through failure to make effective use of this <procedural errors>. MISTAKE implies misconception or inadvertence and usually expresses less criticism than error <dialed the wrong number by mistake>.

Encarta seems to say that mistakes can happen whether or not you know better:
http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861630531
Quote:
mistake an incorrect, unwise, or unfortunate act or decision caused by bad judgment or a lack of information or care;
He expects people to make occasional mistakes and plans accordingly.
He soon learned he'd made a big mistake in marrying Bertha.
error something unintentionally done wrong;
If not detected, this error would have had disastrous consequences.
The leadership had made a serious error of military judgment.
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JuanTwoThree



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 947
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's certainly a widely recognised distinction between "Student slaps head realising that this is not right" and "Student thinks this is right" and many teachers use the terms "mistake" and "error" respectively. It dates back to the 60's. The post by Jonathan is a (near) direct quote from Corder on Error Analysis, I suspect.

However this distinction is not universally recognised and many's the writer who forgets it three paragraphs later. Also there are terms like "frozen errors" which can refer to mistakes/errors that students know to be wrong but can't help themselves. So it's by no means clear.

Within "errors" there is also a far more interesting (if you ask me) distinction between what a learner mistakenly/erroneously thinks is correct owing to a misunderstanding and what a learner spontaneously invents as a process of creativity and exploration, which is to be welcomed, I suppose.


Last edited by JuanTwoThree on Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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lolwhites



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've often heard the term fossilized error to mean when someone keeps getting something wrong; for example, if you've lived in Spain for years and speak near fluent Spanish, but there's something you just keep saying wrongly. I've never heard the term fossilized mistake.

Looking in Websters or the OED probably won't help as the way teachers use the terms in a professional context may well not be the same as Dave in the pub. I would say error is more likely to be systematic while mistake is probably a one-off.
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JuanTwoThree



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 947
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Embarassed I seem to be the only person in the world who says "frozen errors". It's probably a misremembering of "fossilized errors"
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azamouri



Joined: 21 Jul 2007
Posts: 43
Location: Morocco

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

a mistake is a performance of a speech that does not cope with the concerned spoken language-words because of a slip of the tongue, tiredness, anxiety...etc, it can be slef-corrected. However, an error is a performance that a speaker cannot correct by himself and this has to do with his acquired linguistic data. So, concerning errors, one can go on saying wrong thing without knowing that he is doing it. Errors usually come up with L1, SL or FL learners; whereas, mistakes and errors can occur with everyone performing a certain speech.
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metal56



Joined: 25 Mar 2003
Posts: 3032

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting?

Normal collocations:

to commit/make an error
to make a mistake

*to commit a mistake

Over registers. Out of 1 million words:

made an error

REGISTER: SPOKEN 2 FICTION 1 NEWS 6 ACADEMIC 8 NONFIC MISC 4 OTHER MISC 6

commit an error

REGISTER: SPOKEN 0 FICTION 0 NEWS 0 ACADEMIC 1 NONFIC MISC 0 OTHER MISC 0

made a mistake

REGISTER: SPOKEN 2 FICTION 1 NEWS 6 ACADEMIC 8 NONFIC MISC 4 OTHER MISC 6

error

REGISTER: SPOKEN 144 FICTION 158 NEWS 275 ACADEMIC 938 NONFIC MISC 570 OTHER MISC 1,724
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metal56



Joined: 25 Mar 2003
Posts: 3032

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can we say "don't make a mistake and mistake him for a kind man"?

If not, why not?

How about "don't commit/make an error and mistake him for a kind man"?

Or is it just "don't mistake him for a kind man"?
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