Differences in language error patterns

February 10th, 2003 Comments Off on Differences in language error patterns

As I wrote some of my last posts, I happened to notice that the pattern of errors in different languages seems to be different too. To explain why I noticed this, a bit of information about this blog follows.

I have another blog that mirrors this blog in my native language, which is Portuguese. Almost everything I write here ends up there as well and vice-versa. The few exceptions are posts in one of them that are heavily dependent on the cultural context and consequently wouldn’t make sense in the other blog. Writing in two different languages means a lot of translations and corrections back and forth between those languages. Most of the times I write the post in English and translated it back to Portuguese. It may seem strange, as Portuguese is my native language, but one of my goals with the English blog is to improve my English writing skills, which means I tend to prefer writing the posts in that language.

Obviously, I make a lot of errors when writing. In the last posts, I realized that the mistakes I make when writing in English are different from those I make when writing in Portuguese. The former are mostly phonetic errors, while the latter are often orthographic errors. For example, sometimes I write sense, when I mean to write since. In Portuguese, I usually have doubts about how a word is properly written. To use another example, I could write desvaneio (which is usually translated to reverie), when I should have written devaneio. It’s a spelling error, but different from the kind of spelling errrors that happen in English. I don’t quite know how to explain the difference. Observing a bunch of posts, newsgroup postings, and Web pages, I found a similar pattern.

I’m curious to know if my observations are true; if they are, I wonder how those patterns would be in other languages besides Portuguese and English. Well, I will search a little bit about this subject. If I can find any useful information, I will write more about it later.

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