What does professional experience have to offer?. An eye tracking study of sight interpreting/translation behaviour

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This study investigated the impact of professional experience on the process and product of sight interpreting/translation (SiT). Seventeen experienced interpreters, with at least 150 days’ professional experience, and 18 interpreting students were recruited to conduct three tasks: silent reading, reading aloud, and SiT. All participants had similar interpreter training backgrounds. The data of the SiT task have been reported here, with two experienced interpreters (both AIIC members) assessing the participants’ interpretations on accuracy and style, which includes fluency and other paralinguistic performance. The findings show that professional experience contributed to higher accuracy, although there was no between-group difference in the mean score on style, overall task time, length of the SiT output, and mean fixation duration of each stage of reading. The experienced practitioners exhibited more varied approaches at the beginning of the SiT task, with some biding their time longer than the others before oral production started, but quality was not affected. Moving along, the practitioners showed better language flexibility in that their renditions were faster, steadier, and less disrupted by pauses and the need to read further to maintain the flow of interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-73
Number of pages27
JournalTranslation, Cognition & Behavior
Issue number1
Early online date22 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Ho Chen-En (Ted Ho) is Lecturer in Translation and Interpreting in the School of Arts, English, and Languages, Queen’s University Belfast. He is also a practicing interpreter and translator, with experience in conference and court interpreting and a variety of translation projects, such as books, magazines, and game localisation. His research interests span from cognitive translation and interpreting studies, through T&I education and industry, to public service interpreting, with focus currently landing on the cognitive aspect of T&I and students’ learning motivation and employability.


  • sight interpreting/translation
  • cognitive process
  • reading ahead
  • chunking/segmentation
  • pausing behaviour
  • interpreting experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics


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