An eye-tracking based investigation into reading behavior during Chinese-English sight translation: The effect of word order asymmetry

Xingcheng Ma, Dechao Li, Jie Li Tsai, Yu Yin Hsu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The focus of this study is the reading behavior of student interpreters during the process of Chinese-English sight translation. Eye-tracking was adopted to examine whether and how student interpreters' real-time reading is affected by the degree of word order asymmetry and modulated by the amount of contextual information available. A group of interpreter trainees sight translated asymmetric sentences (sentences that are structurally asymmetric to the target language) and symmetric sentences (sentences that are similar to the structure of the target language). These sentences were presented in isolation and embedded in discourse. Their eye movements were recorded for an analysis of their rereading rate and reading ahead frequency. The results show that the rereading rate for the asymmetric sentences was significantly higher than that for the symmetric ones. There were no notable differences in the reading ahead frequency between the two types of sentences. The role of context was limited in modulating the asymmetry-induced effect. This study addresses real-time reading behavior at the word level during sight translation and deepens our understanding of the cognitive processing involved in interpretation, as well as the potential influencing factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-83
Number of pages18
JournalTranslation and Interpreting
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Reading
  • reading ahead
  • rereading
  • sight translation
  • word order asymmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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