Illicit reactionary responses
Language Log 2013-03-15
This morning on the train ride in from Swarthmore, I stumbled upon this quotation in today's Metro: "Philadelphia Magazine published the article to 'illicit reactionary responses,' he said. 'We must be more proactive.'”
The "he" is national race relations specialist Chad Dion Lassiter, and he is referring to a piece in the March issue of Philadelphia Magazine titled, “Being white in Philly,” by Robert Huber. Upon first reading, I thought that the mistake might merely have been due to sloppy writing and editing. Upon rereading, I began to wonder whether this parapraxis was the result of some weird Freudian slip.
This evening, after teaching my classes and having eaten dinner, I checked the web to see if anyone else had ever made the same error, and was astonished to find that it had happened quite a few other times, e.g.:
I'm even more troubled than I was before doing my search, since I now realize that Lassiter's lapse was not the unique event that I had hoped (or rather suspected) it was, but that some strange constellation of impulses had caused it to occur in the minds of other individuals. What might be the trigger that sets off such a bizarre locution?