Predictive processes during simultaneous interpreting from German into English

21 Dec 2018

We report a study on prediction in shadowing and simultaneous interpreting (SI), both considered as forms of real-time, ‘online’ spoken language processing. The study comprised two experiments, focusing on: (i) shadowing of German head-final sentences by 20 advanced students of German, all native speakers of English; (ii) SI of the same sentences into English head-initial sentences by 22 advanced students of German, again native English speakers, and also by 11 trainee and practising interpreters. Latency times for input and production of the target verbs were measured. Drawing on studies of prediction in English-language reading production, we examined two cues to prediction in both experiments: contextual constraints (semantic cues in the context) and transitional probability (the statistical likelihood of words occurring together in the language concerned). While context affected prediction during both shadowing and SI, transitional probability appeared to favour prediction during shadowing but not during SI. This suggests that the two cues operate on different levels of language processing in SI.