An eye-tracking based investigation into on-line reading during Chinese-English sight translation — Effect of word order asymmetry

Xingcheng Ma, Dechao Li, Jie-Li Tsai, Yu-Yin Hsu


Abstract: The focus of the study is the reading behavior during the process of Chinese-English sight translation. Eye-tracking was adopted to examine whether and how interpreters’ on-line reading is affected by the degree of word order asymmetry and modulated by the amount of contextual information. A group of interpreter trainees sight translated asymmetric sentences (sentences that are structurally asymmetric to target language) and symmetric sentences (sentences that are structurally similar to target language) when presented in isolation and embedded in discourse. Their eye movement was recorded for an analysis of rereading rate and reading ahead frequency. Results show that the rereading rate for the asymmetric sentences was significantly higher than that for the symmetric ones. There were no notable differences in the reading ahead frequency between the two types of sentences and the role of context was very limited in modulating the asymmetry-induced effect. The study addresses the real-time reading behavior at word-based level during sight translation and attempts to deepen our understanding on cognitive processing of interpreting and the potential influencing factors.


reading; sight translation; word order asymmetry; rereading; reading ahead

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