25. The intersection between interpreting and the language hierarchy

simultaneous interpreting, expertise, cognition, language proficiency, working memory

Alexis Hervais-Adelman, University of Zurich
Laura Babcock, Stockholm University

Interpreting is a challenging linguistic task that requires the coordination and exploitation of a complex array of cognitive components, including (but not limited to) listening comprehension, the conversion of a message from one language to another, speech production, and error-monitoring. To succeed in this task, interpreters deploy a range of linguistic and cognitive control mechanisms to coordinate the various brain systems implicated in handling these tasks.
Due to the unique demands of utilising two languages concurrently, interpreting has presented a challenge to models of multilingual language control. Studies of interpreting have therefore contributed to the development of more comprehensive frameworks. A considerable amount of research in the cognitive science of interpreting has sought to examine how expertise in interpreting might alter cognitive performance in other domains, thereby providing evidence for the tuning of the investigated functions by the demands placed upon them by the practice of interpreting. A common focus of these investigations has been effects in working memory and on dual-tasking.
However, the interpreter’s mastery of multiple languages has largely been taken for granted, and therefore less studied, despite the fact that it is critical to success in interpreting. More recently, this gap has been noted and investigations into the mechanisms of interpreting have begun to focus on the interplay between interpreting and language mastery at multiple levels of the language hierarchy.
This session will present examples of current research in this field from diverse academic perspectives and experimental traditions. The work highlighted will span a range of investigative granularities, from the phonological, to the psycholinguistic and to the higher cognitive perspectives. The speakers will present empirical data on the impact of expertise in interpreting on: predictive processes at the level of phonemic processing and lexico-semantic processing, as well as the relationship between language competence and interpreting proficiency. By bringing together speakers from across the globe united under the auspices of their passion for elucidating the relationships between interpreting, the language system and cognition, we will provide a space for discussion to promote integration of different research agendas and perspectives. The session is intended to be maximally interactive and to include time for proposals for future collaborations and integration of the current knowledge base. Much as bilingualism is in flux, interpreting studies are also in flux, becoming ever more popular and uniting researchers from an increasingly broad array of disciplines to help change our views of the mechanics of interpreting and the consequences of expertise.

  1. Interpreting experience and working memory effects on in L1 and L2 morphological prediction, Cristina Lozano Argüelles
  2. A longitudinal study on prediction in simultaneous interpreting, Rhona Amos, Martin Pickering and Kilian Seeber
  3. The emergence of a complex language skill: Evidence from the self-organization of interpreting competence in interpreter trainees, Yanping Dong and Zhibin Yu
  4. Does expertise in simultaneous interpreting influence multimodal language comprehension?, Eléonore Arbona, Kilian Seeber and Marianne Gullberg