Author: Song, Shuxian
Title: Fluency in simultaneous interpreting of trainee interpreters : the perspectives of cognitive, utterance and perceived fluency
Advisors: Li, Dechao (CBS)
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2020
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Simultaneous interpreting
Fluency (Language learning)
Department: Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xvi, 290 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Fluency, one of the most important criteria in interpreting quality assessment and perception, has been under-explored in interpreting research, and constructs of and contributors to fluency in interpreting performance have not been fully explored. Based on the three domains of fluency proposed by Segalowitz (2010), this research offers a multidimensional exploration of fluency in the simultaneous interpreting (SI) of trainee interpreters from the perspectives of cognitive, utterance and perceived fluency. Cognitive fluency refers to the speaker's efficient mobilisation and integration of underlying cognitive processes responsible for utterance production; utterance fluency refers to the set of objectively determined oral features of utterances, e.g. temporal, hesitation and repair features; and perceived fluency refers to listeners' inferences about a speaker's cognitive fluency based on their perception of the speaker's utterance fluency. Main issues explored in this research include: 1) the role of cognitive fluency in the fluency development of trainee interpreters' L2 (English)-L1 (Chinese) SI output under conditions of low and high cognitive load; 2) the influence of cognitive fluency, SI training and input rate on trainee interpreters' SI utterance fluency, comparing measures of speed, breakdown and repair fluency at two time slots of SI training and under conditions of low and high input rate; and 3) the relationship between objective indicators of utterance fluency in trainee interpreters' SI performance and perceived fluency, as assessed by human raters. Cognitive fluency measures, operationalised in the current research as the efficiency (coefficient of variance) of lexical access, lexical retrieval, linguistic attention control and working memory capacity, were elicited through behavioural experiments including a semantic classification task, a word translation task, a category judgment task and a speaking span task. Measures of utterance fluency in SI performance were obtained through simulated SI tasks, which followed a 2 (training: pre/post) * 2 (input rate: low/high) factorial design. Twenty-eight trainee interpreters at the initial stage of SI training were recruited as participants. The participants interpreted two speeches simultaneously: one with a high input rate and the other with a low input rate at the beginning and end of an SI training period of one academic term. A bilingual corpus of the SI output of participants was built and indicators of SI utterance fluency were annotated systematically by using Elan 5.2 software. Raters with professional interpreting experience were invited to assess the interpreting performance.
Results of multiple linear regression analyses and repeated measures ANOVA indicated that: 1) The explored cognitive fluency measures could predict to a large extent the development of trainee interpreters' SI utterance fluency over a period of thirteen weeks; the influence of cognitive fluency measures on SI utterance fluency development was evidently stronger under conditions of high cognitive load; the efficiency of cognitive processes involved in the target language production stage had a more significant influence on SI utterance fluency development than that involved in the source language comprehension. 2) Measures of cognitive fluency in the target language generally had a significant influence on one or more indicators of utterance fluency in trainee interpreters' SI output and the role of cognitive fluency was generally independent; the main effects of SI training were significant for speech rate, articulation rate and mean duration of silent pauses, and the SI output after training was generally more fluent than that before training; the main effects of input rate were strongly significant for speed fluency indicators and were overall significant for breakdown fluency indicators, and the fluency of trainee interpreters' SI output was generally enhanced under conditions of high input rate. 3) Objectively measured utterance fluency indicators could account for most of the variance in perceived fluency of trainee interpreters' SI performance; speech rate made a major positive contribution in predicting fluency ratings; the mean number of REPAIRs (repairs, repetitions and false starts) and the mean number of filled pauses were the second most significant predictor for perceived fluency in pre-training and post-training tasks, respectively, and were negatively correlated with fluency ratings. The research offers an interdisciplinary exploration of fluency in SI. Exploration of the relationships between three domains of fluency in interpreting offers insights into constructs of fluency in interpreting and enriches the existing knowledge of fluency from multiple perspectives, contributing to the understanding of the information processing mechanism of interpreting. The inclusion of lexical retrieval and working memory capacity in the investigation into cognitive fluency has implications for the theoretical framework of cognitive fluency in interpreting. The focus on the efficiency of cognitive fluency and the development of utterance fluency in interpreting provides methodological references for future relevant studies. The findings also shed light on the interpreting aptitude test and interpreting pedagogy.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: open access

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