[New publication] Perspectives 29 (4), 2019: Special Issue on ‘Cognitive Explorations of Translation and Interpreting’

Perspectives 29 (4), 2019: Special Issue on ‘Cognitive Explorations of Translation and Interpreting’

Researching the invisible: multi-methodological developments in cognitive translatology, by Adolfo M. García and Mónica C. Giozza

Abstract: Much like other trends in translation and interpreting studies (TIS), cognitive approaches have long been marked by methodological challenges. Pioneering process-oriented works were mainly informed by speculative descriptions of carefully selected texts, which limited their validity, generalizability, and scientific robustness at large. Many of these problems were partially circumvented by the emergence of empirical (including experimental) approaches, as these allowed collecting actual evidence on the mental operations involved and forging more objective accounts of the phenomena under scrutiny. Yet, for all their benefits, empirical approaches to cognitive TIS are typified by an essential paradox: whereas empiricism requires observation of concrete data, mental operations are literally non-observable. The works included in the present special issue showcase the variety of methodological approaches with which this apparent paradox can be overcome. At the same time, the diversity of topics addressed in these works further attests to the distinct capabilities of each method while illustrating the breadth of cognitive TIS.


Grounding translation and interpreting in the brain: what has been, can be, and must be done, by Edinson Muñoz, Noelia Calvo and Adolfo M. García

Abstract: This paper offers an overview of neurocognitive research on translation and interpreting, an area whose history spans almost 100 years. First, we identify the main milestones in the development of this field, considering empirical breakthroughs (based on neuropsychological and neuroscientific evidence) as well as theoretical and institutional advances. Second, we review three areas of inquiry for which abundant evidence is already available, namely: (i) the circuits involved in backward and forward translation, (ii) the mechanisms engaged depending on variables of the translation unit, and (iii) the neurocognitive impact of expertise in simultaneous interpreting. Third, we discuss the field’s prospects for development, identifying key possibilities and methodological limitations. Finally, we enumerate the principal requirements for the consolidation of the neurocognitive approach (e.g. interdisciplinary training, greater collaboration between translation studies scholars and neuroscientists, increased funding, and presence in high-impact journals). In sum, we intend to show that knowledge about the cerebral basis of translation and interpreting has been growing over the decades and that conditions are appropriate for this promising space to assert itself as a full-fledged research arena.


Digital resources in the translation process – attention, cognitive effort and processing flow, by Kristian Tangsgaard Hvelplund

Abstract: Digital resources are an important part of the translator’s work. Access to dictionaries, parallel texts, reference works, websites and other resources supports the comprehension and reformulation processes and they are an integrated part of most translators’ work processes. Despite the importance of digital resources in the translation process, little research has been carried out in this area. Eye tracking data and screen recording data from 18 professional translators are investigated to examine (1) translators’ use of digital resources with specific emphasis on attention and cognitive effort in translation involving digital resource consultation and (2) translators’ processing flow during translation involving digital resources.


Translating in fits and starts: pause thresholds and roles in the research of translation processes, by Ricardo Muñoz Martín and José Mª. Cardona Guerra

Abstract: Two pause thresholds were tested, aimed at chunking the translation task workflow into task segments and classifying pauses into different kinds. Pauses below 200 ms were dubbed delays and excluded. An upper threshold at 3 × median pause between words was hypothesized (H1) to capture more translation problems than 3 s pauses, but also to flag other cognitive processes. The upper threshold and a lower threshold at 2 × median pause within words were used to classify pauses into short pauses (between 200 ms and the lower threshold), mid pauses (between thresholds) and long pauses (above the upper threshold). Such mid pauses were hypothesized (H2) to mainly hint at different cognitive phenomena. Short pauses were assumed to hint at mechanical and strategic behaviors related to keyboarding, although this is not tested here. Finally, empty task segments (no new text or changes in existing copy) were hypothesized (H3) to be strategically distributed for planning and prospective reading. Results confirmed hypotheses 1 and 2 and partially supported hypothesis 3. Some unexpected findings point to the need of further research into the nature of task segments, understood as chunks of the action, rather than text excerpts.


Analysing the impact of TAPs on temporal, technical and cognitive effort in monolingual post-editing, by Norma Barbosa de Lima Fonseca

Abstract: This study analyses the impact of TAPs on effort in monolingual post-editing tasks involving two machine-translated texts from English into Brazilian Portuguese. The analysis focuses on indicators of temporal effort (task execution time, text production time, total pause time, and pause count), technical effort (numbers of insertions, deletions, navigation and return keystrokes, copy/cut-and-paste keystrokes, and mouse operations, as well as the total number of keystrokes and mouse operations), and cognitive effort (average fixation duration, fixation count, total gaze time, average pupil size, and duration of the longest fixation). Results from 43 participants indicate that temporal, technical and cognitive aspects of effort are significantly influenced by verbalization, i.e., the TAP condition, on the basis of 13 indicators: all four indicators of temporal effort, four out of seven indicators of technical effort (numbers of insertions, deletions, and mouse operations, and the total number of keystrokes and mouse operations), and all five indicators of cognitive effort. The results also point out that the impact of TAPs on post-editing effort does not depend on participants’ translation experience.


Eye-tracking revision processes of translation students and professional translators, by Moritz Schaeffer, Jean Nitzke, Anke Tardel, Katharina Oster, Silke Gutermuth and Silvia Hansen-Schirra

Abstract: Great effort has been made to define and to measure revision competence in translation. However, combined eye tracking and keylogging have hardly been applied in revision research. We believe it is time to apply these methods to the investigation of revision for further insights into this phase of the translation process. In an eyetracking and keylogging study, we compare translation students to professional translators who revised six English-German human pre-translated texts from the TPR-DB. The texts were manipulated according to an existing error typology by including errors from a set of six error categories. We examine the effect of the errors on early (first fixation durations, gaze durations) and late eye movement measures (total reading time, regression path) and on typing behaviour for the error types and professional translation experience. The results enable a detailed modelling of the revision process by determining the kind of behaviour associated with the recognition and correction of different error types. Differences in this behaviour between students and professional translators allow for conclusions regarding the effect of professional experience on the revision process.


Metacognition and self-assessment in specialized translation education: task awareness and metacognitive bundling, by Christopher D. Mellinger

Abstract: Cognitive translation processes incorporate metacognitive activity due to the association with problem-solving behaviour, including the ability to recognize problems, propose solutions, and evaluate the effectiveness of solutions. Previous research has emphasized these aspects of the translation process in general texts; however, specialized translation merits investigation for insights into metacognitive activity of translators given the particular challenges that accompany texts in specialized areas. Medical translation, for instance, presents a unique set of problems given the domain-specific nature of the translation task. This study presents a qualitative analysis of a corpus comprising two different translation tasks, each with an accompanying reflective self-assessment, in order to identify indicators of task awareness, problem recognition, and solution evaluation. The results suggest that metacognitive activity is present in both translation tasks, but the type of behaviour changes over the course of an eight-week period that includes training in medical translation. This change over time points to the potential for developing metacognitive abilities during translation coursework and identifies specific aspects for potential future investigation related to specialized translation pedagogy.


Comprehension in interpreting and translation: testing the phonological interference hypothesisStephanie, by Díaz-Galaz and Alejandro Torres

Abstract: Studies on the comprehension process in interpreting have shown that concurrent processing reduces recall in simultaneous interpreting. This effect has been attributed to phonological interference: since the articulatory loop is busy with the parallel vocalization of two streams of speech, encoding is impaired to such an extent that interpreters are not able to remember much of what they have just interpreted. On the other hand, recent studies on the translation process show that comprehension and production overlap in written translation in a way that is similar to simultaneous interpreting. Therefore, this article examines the role of phonological interference in written and oral translation to determine whether or not it also hinders recall in written translation, and to gauge how task requirements affect the comprehension process in translation and interpreting. In this study, comprehension was measured through summarization, multiple choice comprehension questions and cloze questions administered after simultaneous interpretation and translation activities were completed by a group of advanced interpreting students. Results suggest that both translation and interpreting share similar features regarding parallel processing and, furthermore, that the process of comprehension is influenced by the demands associated with translation and simultaneous interpreting.