This study looks at three translation strategies frequently used in the context of Chinese to English simultaneous interpreting (SI), namely “code-mixing”, “transcoding” and “conceptually mediated translation”, and investigates the cognitive effort they demand of the interpreter.
Neuro-linguists and psycholinguists (Paradis, 1984, 1994, 2004; de Groot 1997, 2005, 2011) suggest that transcoding, which is memory based and takes the “short-cut” linking translation-equivalent structures across the source language (SL) and the target language (TL), demands less processing effort than conceptually-mediated translation, which is meaning based and takes the “long route”. And discrepancies in tendencies of applying these two forms mark an underlying difference between the trained professional and the untrained “natural interpreter”. However, such a proposition has yet to be (dis)confirmed with experimental evidence.
Previous PET and fMRI research results indicate that SI, which essentially involve bilingual processing, activates predominantly left-hemispheric structures (e.g. Rinne, 2000). This fNIRs-based research investigates how transcoding and conceptually mediated translation are associated with the magnitude and the extent of activation in the left prefrontal cortex, including the Broca’s area. Brain activation patterns associated with the two forms of bilingual processing are compared with those related to “code-mixing”, which is a strategy available to simultaneous interpreters in certain contexts (Cheung, 2001). The assumption is that “code-mixing” has little to do with bilingual processing, thus involving the least amount of activity in the left prefrontal cortex.
Results of the fNIRS experiment will be shared and their pedagogical implications will be explored.
Victoria Lei joined the University of Macau in 1997 as a lecturer and she is now an assistant professor. In 2009 she was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, UK. She provides conference interpreting service at local, national and international levels. From 2003 to 2009 she was an invited translator/presenter at Teledifusão de Macau.