Text characteristics, perceived difficulty and task performance in sight translation: An exploratory study of university-level students

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Abstract

This paper reports on an exploratory study examining the relationship between text characteristics, perceived difficulty and task performance in sight translation (ST). Twenty-nine undergraduate interpreters were asked to sight-translate six texts with different properties. Correlation analysis shows that Sophisticated Word Type and Mean Length of a T-unit are, respectively, the lexical and the syntactic variables having the highest correlations with all the three dependent variables (i.e. perceived difficulty, accuracy and fluency in ST performance). Surprisingly, the discoursal variables are weakly or modestly correlated with the dependent variables. Thematic analysis of the students’ reflective essays points to two hypothesized causal links among the three Ps in ST: task properties may cause decoding difficulties and cognitive overload in the cognitive process, which in turn lead to inaccuracy and dysfluency in ST performance. The research findings lend empirical support to the “shallow-scan hypothesis” in previous research. Finally, this study proposes a three-tier conceptual framework to inform and guide future research to operationalize variables in ST empirical studies. The pedagogical implications of ST are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196–219
JournalInterpreting
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • perceived difficulty
  • sight translation
  • task performance
  • text characteristics

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