Scapegoating the interpreter for listeners' dissatisfaction with their level of understanding: An experimental study

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Anecdotes abound on interpreters being used as scapegoats, but without hard evidence. The purpose of this study was to observe whether Cantonese-speaking listeners blamed the interpreter for unsatisfactory scores awarded to them in a comprehension test, after listening to a simultaneous interpretation (SI) into Cantonese delivered with a non-native accent. After answering twenty comprehension questions, all 173 participants were shown their scores on a screen. In the neutral feedback group, participants viewed their real, unmanipulated scores. In the positive feedback group, two points had been added to the score; in the negative feedback group, two points had been deducted. Participants were unaware of this manipulation. After viewing their scores, they completed an electronic questionnaire on the quality of the SI. Between-groups comparisons showed that, in terms of SI quality perception, the neutral feedback group differed significantly from the negative feedback group but not from the positive feedback group. These findings suggest that participants in the negative feedback group attributed their unfavorable test results to the interpreter, who was treated as a scapegoat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-63
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Accent
  • Cantonese
  • Comprehension
  • Scapegoat
  • Simultaneous interpreting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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