The eye or the ear?
Source language interference in sight translation and simultaneous interpreting
In the current study we set out to investigate source language interference in the visual modality (in sight
translation – ST) and in the auditory modality (in simultaneous interpreting – SI). We probed interpretations of cognates,
interlingual homographs and passive structures in single sentence contexts as performed from English to Polish by 47 advanced
interpreting trainees. We also analysed temporal measures: ear-voice span (in SI) or eye-voice span (in ST) as well as total
translation time. The results showed a higher level of interference in ST in the case of homographs and a mixed pattern of results
for the remaining measures. We also obtained interesting task-independent results, namely an 80% rate of global passive retention
testifying to a high level of syntactic priming in both modes of interpreting. We discuss these results in the context of
different types of interference occurring in interpreting and conclude that there might be a similar global level of interference
in the two tasks, however with differing underlying patterns. This is the first study to date to directly compare interference
levels between ST and SI in such controlled conditions. Our results contribute to the understanding of complex linguistic
processes occurring across modalities in interpreting tasks.
Keywords: interference, simultaneous interpreting, sight translation, cognates, interlingual homographs
For any use beyond this license, please contact the publisher at