Prediction in interpreting

Dans le document Prediction in Interpreting (Page 56-61)

1 Literature Review

1.9 Prediction in interpreting

It is important to note that several theories of prediction in interpreting significantly pre-date empirical research in psycholinguistics that has found evidence of prediction during comprehension more generally (e.g., Chernov, 1994; Lederer, 1981; Seleskovitch, 1984). Indeed, prediction has long been considered key in interpreting (Chernov, 1994, 2004; Mizuno, 2005; Moser, 1978; Moser-Mercer et al., 2000; Seleskovitch, 1984).

Historically, the focus of much simultaneous interpreting research has been on the linguistic features (such as grammatical rules and transitional probabilities) and extra-linguistic features (such as information interpreters may have about the context or the speaker) that interpreters use to predict (Gile, 2009). In other words, this research has focused on predictability of content, and has considered whether interpreters become better at using linguistic and extralinguistic cues for prediction. For instance, Moser-Mercer et al. (2000) propose that novice interpreters often fail to link linguistic and extra-linguistic features, leading them to attend to the semantics of each utterance with no regard for context, whereas experts have built up extensive knowledge of different types of conference contexts, speeches, etc. which they use to inform their understanding of individual utterances. Frauenfelder and Schriefers (1997) also suppose that experts and novices may use predictive cues differently. The hypothesis that professional and student interpreters may use predictive cues differently has sometimes been transformed into a more general hypothesis that only professional interpreters anticipate upcoming content (e.g., Moser, 1978).

Some accounts of prediction suppose that professional interpreters predict extensively during simultaneous interpreting (Lederer, 1981; Seleskovitch, 1984). More

specifically, Lederer (1981: 253) argues that interpreters engage in “freewheeling anticipation”; that is, they predict constantly during comprehension and update their predictions regularly based on whether what the speaker says fits with them. Chernov (1994), posits that interpreters use preceding context to formulate both general and precise expectations about upcoming content, and that these expectations render some message content redundant. Where interpreters are able to anticipate upcoming content, they almost fully shift the focus to their own production. This allows them to both plan

utterances which summarise the essential points of the message in a process described as

“anticipatory synthesis” (Chernov, 2004: 137), and to better monitor their own production.

Chernov (2004) further explored the importance of context in a study which compared the interpretation of meaningful, highly contextualised sentences with the interpretation of nonsense (but syntactically correct) sentences, and found that interpreters were able to interpret meaningful, but not nonsense sentences.

Other researchers have suggested that prediction is language-pair dependent, and that interpreters predict more where language-pair asymmetry (mismatch) means

prediction is helpful for production in the target language (Mizuno, 2005; Wilss, 1978). In studies of language-pair dependent prediction, prediction is often used to mean predictive production of a target word before the equivalent word is spoken in the source speech (e.g., Van Besien, 1999). Studies and theories based on this narrower account of prediction do not tend to consider whether or to what extent predictive processing may be taking place outside instances of predictive production (see below). Both the predictive production described in this paragraph, and the more general prediction described in the preceding

paragraph, are also referred to as anticipation in the Interpreting Studies literature (e.g., Seeber, 2001).

There is empirical support for prediction during simultaneous interpreting, but studies have focused almost exclusively on language-pair dependent predictive production.

Evidence comes from rather small-scale studies, and focuses primarily on the German into English language pair. These studies demonstrate that comprehension is not strictly incremental during simultaneous interpreting, but they do not address whether predictive processing generally takes place during simultaneous interpreting.

Jörg (1997) ran an exploratory experiment in which 12 participants (6 students and 6 professionals) interpreted a 17-minute speech from German into English. Jörg (1997) used an authentic speech which included 26 sentences or clauses for which he believed a predictive production strategy would be probable, e.g., “Millionen… waren zum Opfer gefallen”7. He found that interpreters predictively produced the verb around 50% of the time in these sentences.

Seeber (2001) ran a small experiment in which four professional interpreters interpreted, into English, two 16-minute speeches, each containing 10 verb-final sentences in German that had been constructed so as to provide an opportunity for predictive

production (e.g., “Oft muss der Dolmetscher das Verb beim Simultandolmetschen aus dem Deutschen antizipieren”8). Around 50% of the time, they produced a main verb that was either the exact equivalent, or a word close in meaning, to the German verb, before hearing the German verb. For the other half of the time, they either did not anticipate, used a

7 Translation: “Millions… had fallen victim to”

placeholder instead of the main verb, or else produced an incorrect verb (around 10% of the time overall).

Kurz and Färber (2003) compared a group of fourteen interpreting students, half of whom were native speakers of English and the other half of whom were native speakers of German as they interpreted a speech from German, which contained sentences in which the verb could be predicted. They found that student interpreters produced a verb in English before hearing the verb in German in roughly one in three sentences. They predictively produced the exact English equivalent of the German verb 38% of the time.

Meanwhile, Hodzik and Williams (2017) had simultaneous interpreters and bilinguals simultaneously interpret German verb-final sentences into English. The verbs were paired with a noun with which they had a high or a low transitional probability9, and appeared in sentence contexts which were designed to be either highly constraining or non-constraining.

For example, the onset of the verb “bekommen” in German, and its translation equivalent in English, was measured in this high constraint context: “Obwohl er kein Geld hatte, war er entschlossen, in Oxford zu studieren. Da das Studium zu teuer für ihn war, hatte er von der Universität finanzielle Unterstützung bekommen”10. The authors found no effect of

transitional probability. However, the latency between hearing and producing the final verb onset was lower for high than low constraint contexts. Moreover, participants occasionally (4% of interpreted sentences for interpreters and 2.4% for bilinguals) produced the verb

9 For instance: Unterstützung bekommen – to receive financial support – has a high transitional probability.

Unterstützung verlangen – to request financial support – has a low transitional probability.

10 Gloss: Although he no money had, was he determined in Oxford to study. Because the study too expensive

before they heard it, and almost all of such predictive production (around 90%) followed the highly constraining contexts.

It is unclear why predictive production took place much less frequently in this last study than in the other earlier studies reported (Jörg, 1997; Kurz & Färber, 2003; Seeber, 2001). The earlier studies used speeches, rather than sentences, which may have increased the likelihood of context-based prediction. It is also highly likely that the calculation method significantly affected the results. In Seeber’s (2001) study, only 10 sentences in a 16-minute speech were constructed in such a way as to provide suitable opportunities for anticipation, while Jörg (1997) considered that there were a total of 26 sentences and clauses for which predictive production was possible in his study. Kurz and Färber (2003) do not specify the precise number of sentences they considered (intuitively) as providing an opportunity for anticipation. It appears that in these earlier studies, only sentences for which the author(s) considered predictive production to be a possible, or probable interpreting strategy, were included in the calculation of the proportion of predictive productions. This could lead to over-reporting the frequency of predictive production.

More recently, Lozano-Argüelles, Sagarra and Casillas (2020) investigated the use of suprasegmental and segmental cues in identifying word suffixes in Spanish among

monolinguals and L2 learners of Spanish who were either interpreters or non-interpreters.

Participants’ eyes were tracked as they viewed two words on their screen, e.g., “lava/lavó [washes/washed]” and listened to short sentences containing one of the two words, e.g., “El primo lava/lavó los coches [The cousin washes/washed the cars]”. Verb stems contained both suprasegmental (e.g., stress: oxytone or paroxytone) and segmental cues (e.g., syllabic structure: CVC or CV) which could be used to identify the word suffix. Eye-tracking analyses

of a period from 200ms before target syllable offset until 600ms after revealed that

monolinguals looked at the correct word earlier than L2 learners. Interpreters looked at the correct word either at the same time or later than non-interpreters. However, by the offset of the word suffix, interpreters and non-interpreters fixated the target word equally often.

Although the authors motivate their hypotheses and describe their findings in the light of psycholinguistic research on prediction, and theories of anticipation in interpreting, this study does not demonstrate prediction as defined in this thesis. However, it does show that interpreters (and other L2 speakers) differ in when they use coarticulatory information for word identification compared to monolinguals.

These studies show that interpreters do more than comprehend incrementally, even during a simultaneous interpreting task. However, they do not reveal whether prediction takes place in language pairs other than German into English. None of these studies measure prediction during comprehension, as they are either transcription based, or else measure prediction based on latencies, or after onset of the target word – in the latter studies, there is no clear distinction between prediction and integration, and in

transcription-based predictive production studies, only a very specific type of predictive processing is measured. The experiments set out in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 measure predictive processing online during both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting in the English to French and English to Dutch language pairs.

Dans le document Prediction in Interpreting (Page 56-61)