Victoria Fromkin bigraphy, stories - Linguists

Victoria Fromkin : biography

May 16, 1923 - February 19, 2000

Victoria Fromkin (May 16, 1923 – January 19, 2000) was an American linguist who taught at UCLA. She studied slips of the tongue, mishearing, and other speech errors and applied this to phonology, the study of how the sounds of a language are organized in the mind.


Critics of Fromkin have discussed the possibility of experimenter bias during the collection of the thousands of speech errors. The speech errors were collected by observation which could lead to experimenter bias or human error.

Many different scholars have contributed research to the field of modularity. Some support the view that language processing is modular, while others support the view that language processing is not modular. The research of Fromkin helped support the hypothesis that language is modular.


Fromkin contributed to the area of linguistics known as speech errors. She created "Fromkin's Speech Error Database", for which data collection is ongoing.

Fromkin recorded nine different types of speech errors. The following are examples of each:

  • Lexical:
    • Target Utterance: A fifty-pound bag of dog food
    • Error Utterance: A fifty-pound dog of bag food.
  • Morphological:
    • Target Utterance: A cameraman who wants to make a report about the horserace.
    • Error Utterance: A cameraman who WANT to er make a reportage about the horserace who WANTS to make a reportage about the horse race.
  • Morphosyntactic:
    • Target Utterance: We began to collect a lot of data to determine what they may mean.
    • Error Utterance: We began to collect a lot of data to determine what they may MEANT.
  • Phonological:
    • Target Utterance: A bread bun
    • Error Utterance: A BRUN
  • Phonological/lexical:
    • Target Utterance: 280 days as compared to
    • Error Utterance: 280 days as composed to
  • Phonologic/Morphologic:
    • Target Utterance: DISTINGUISHED TEACHING award
    • Error Utterance: DISTEACHING TINGWER award
  • Phrasal:
    • Target Utterance: and then they start painting/need t'start painting
    • Error Utterance: …and then they START NEED T'…need t'start painting.
  • Syntactic:
    • Target Utterance: a university that celebrated its 50th anniversary a couple of years ago
    • Error Utterance: a university that IS celebratING its 50th anniversary a couple of years ago
  • Tip-of-the-Tongue:
    • Target Utterance: Cherokee
    • Error Utterance: it starts with a "j"

Fromkin theorized that slips of the tongue can occur at many levels including syntactic, phrasal, lexical or semantic, morphological, phonological. She also believed that slips of the tongue could occur as many different process procedures. The different forms were:

  • Addition: Someone wants to say, "bomb scare" but instead says, "bomb square."
  • Deletion: Someone wants to say, "I hope you use the same brush every day" but instead says, "I hope you use the rush every day."
  • Exchange: Wanting to say, "can you sign on the line" but instead says, "cas you nign on the line?"
  • Substitution: Someone wants to say, "a vote for the guarneri quartet came in" but instead says, "a vote for the guarneri quartAte cAme in."

Fromkin's research helps support the argument that language processing is not modular. The argument for modularity claims that language is localized, domain-specific, mandatory, fast, and encapsulated. Her research on slips of the tongue have demonstrated that when people make slips of the tongue it usually happens on the same level, indicating that each level has a distinct place in the persons brain. Phonemes switch with phonemes, stems with stems, and morphemes switch with other morphemes.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine