Sep 2010

EST Congress

I participated in the 6th Congress of the European Society for Translation Studies “Tracks and Treks in TS” held in Leuven, Belgium. I co-presented the following paper with Iwona Mazur:

Eye-tracking sight translation performed by trainee interpreters

Sight translation is frequently used as a method in interpreter training and might prove a useful skill in professional practice when interpreting speakers who read out their presentation slides or simply read their speeches (provided the text of the speech has been offered to the interpreters). It is thus worth researching this phenomenon to find out how the sight translation skill develops.
This paper presents results of an eye-tracking study involving sight translation performed by interpreting trainees. We assume that trainees at a more advanced stage of training will display more efficient reading patterns and will perform better quality sight translation than their less experienced colleagues. By selecting appropriate variables we expect to discover which features of a written text present the greatest challenge to the students and at which stage of training particular issues are mastered.
10 interpreting trainees at the end of their two-year M.A. programme in conference interpreting and 10 students after the first year of their conference interpreting training participated in the experimental study. They were asked to sight translate a text from Polish (their A language) into English (their B language). Tobii T60 eye-tracker was used to display the text in accordance with recommended settings (Gerganov 2007) and to track the participants’ eye movements. The students’ performance was additionally recorded by using Tobii’s build-in video camera for further analysis of the translation quality.
The experimental text included a set of independent variables, such as simple vs. complex sentences, low frequency lexical items and idioms. The dependent variables included the total translation time, scanning patterns and a range of eye-tracking measures, such as first fixation duration (assumed to be indicative of lexical access) and first pass duration (assumed to manifest syntactic and semantic processing) (Rayner 1998).
Eye-tracking data was combined with the analysis of quality of the students’ sight translations. The results are expected to give us better insight into the cognitive processes underlying the process of sight translation. This in turn should help interpreter trainers better adjust training materials to the needs of interpreter trainees as regards sight translation. The authors of the paper believe that eye-tracking will be yet another interdisciplinary track in Translation Studies that will allow researchers to go on new and exciting treks into the black box of translators and interpreters.

Conference presentation

I participated in the 5th International Maastricht-Łódź Duo Colloquium on “Translation and Meaning” in Łódź where I presented the following paper:

Meaning and words in the conference interpreter’s mind – a semantic priming study of the bilingual mental lexicon

According to the Revised Hierarchical Model (Kroll and Stewart 1994), currently the most prominent theory of the bilingual mental lexicon, meaning is stored in the mind on the language-free conceptual level while words are maintained on the language specific lexical level with separate stores for each known language. The interlingual links between words and concepts vary in strength depending on language proficiency and use. It is assumed that the specific use of languages by conference interpreters influences the organisation of the bilingual mental lexicon and lexical processing (Christoffels 2004; Christoffels, De Groot and Kroll 2006).
In order to shed more light on the influence of conference interpreting experience on interlingual lexical links in the mental lexicon, a cross-linguistic semantic priming study has been devised. The semantic priming paradigm has been one of the most commonly used methodology to explore the structure of the mental lexicon and it has been successfully applied in bilingual research.
The author will report on partial results of her COGSIMO post-doc project in which 24 professional interpreters working for the European Commission and the European Parliament and 24 non-interpreting bilinguals are compared while performing a lexical decision task. Response times to experimental stimuli in three conditions (semantically primed words, neutrally primed words, non-words) and two directions (English-Polish and Polish-English) in both groups will be compared to reveal statistically significant differences that may tell us something about meaning and words in the interpreting mind.