The vocabulary used to describe the types of error (and/or variants) that commonly arise during the course of historical textual transmission is wide and varied. Moreover, while some critics distinguish errors from the triggers or precipitators for the error, often terms are used almost interchangeably. As a rule, all errors can be classified in four general categories that also comprise variants: addition, omission, transposition, and substitution. These four operations were already recognised in antiquity's treatment of rhetoric; for example, Quintilian cites adiectio, detractio, immutatio, transmutatio (Institutio Oratoria I, 5, 6). More specific terms are often used to describe particular types of variants or errors within these categories. Examples include: dittography (addition); haplography (omission); metathesis, anasyllabism, transposition; misreading, itacism (substitution).
Because errors frequently arise due to misreading on the part of the copyist – that is an error in language processing that affects language production – textual scholars have also developed an elaborate vocabulary for the triggers or precipitators for errors (cf. copying of texts). Examples are anticipation, arrhythmia, homoeoarcton, homoeoteleuton, parablepsis, saut du même au même.
A number of terms encompass both the impetus for an innovation and the product, such as assimilation and gloss-incorporation.
This list of types and causes aims to offer a representative selection, but is not exhaustive. Several of these terms are not restricted to the category error, but may also be descriptive of secondary readings and variants. For example, gloss-incorporation may arise by accident and so be an error of transcription, but the incorporation may, on the other hand, represent a deliberate alteration on the part of an intermediary copyist acting as an editor of the text (cf. copying of texts).
In other languages
DE: Arten von Fehlern
FR: erreurs, type de
IT: errori, tipi di