Error Analysis (EA) is a complement to Contrastive Analysis (CA). A contrastive analysis describes the structural differences and similarities of two or more languages. This is practical when we want to translate a text or to teach a language. Concerning the area of teaching, I explain what EA is:
A learner may commit some errors while attempting to communicate in the target language. Identifying these errors and finding out why they have happened is called Error Analysis.
Errors are generally labeled as interlingual or interference errors and intralingual or developmental errors. Interlingual errors are those the source of which is native language. As the word “interference” suggests, here learner’s knowledge of his native language interferes with his target language utterances. Intralingual errors are those the cause of which is target language itself.
However, there is another type of error, idiosyncratic errors. These are unique to individuals or a small group of learners who have something in common. It may be the same teacher, the same textbook, etc. These kind of errors are of little importance for analysis. To clarify, I tell my own example: At the beginning stage of learning English, I had a teacher who pronounced “r” sound as ‘er’ not ‘ar’. To the best of my recollection, everybody in my class pronounced it ‘er’!
Below is a short error analysis example:
In result, our society can’t improve.
As a result, our society can’t improve.
A Persian speaker of English establishes the preposition ‘in’ as an equivalence of Persian ‘در’ in his mind. ‘در نتیجه’ is the equivalent form and meaning of ‘as a result’ in Persian. The student was unaware of this point. It is an interlingual error.