Prediction during simultaneous interpreting: Evidence from the visual-world paradigm

Cognition. 2022 Mar:220:104987. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104987. Epub 2021 Dec 15.


We report the results of an eye-tracking study which used the Visual World Paradigm (VWP) to investigate the time-course of prediction during a simultaneous interpreting task. Twenty-four L1 French professional conference interpreters and twenty-four L1 French professional translators untrained in simultaneous interpretation listened to sentences in English and interpreted them simultaneously into French while looking at a visual scene. Sentences contained a highly predictable word (e.g., The dentist asked the man to open his mouth a little wider). The visual scene comprised four objects, one of which depicted either the target object (mouth; bouche), an English phonological competitor (mouse; souris), a French phonological competitor (cork; bouchon), or an unrelated word (bone; os). We considered 1) whether interpreters and translators predict upcoming nouns during a simultaneous interpreting task, 2) whether interpreters and translators predict the form of these nouns in English and in French and 3) whether interpreters and translators manifest different predictive behaviour. Our results suggest that both interpreters and translators predict upcoming nouns, but neither group predicts the word-form of these nouns. In addition, we did not find significant differences between patterns of prediction in interpreters and translators. Thus, evidence from the visual-world paradigm shows that prediction takes place in simultaneous interpreting, regardless of training and experience. However, we were unable to establish whether word-form was predicted.

Keywords: Eye-tracking; Prediction; Simultaneous interpreting; Visual-world paradigm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception
  • Eye-Tracking Technology
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Mice
  • Mouth
  • Semantics*