Measuring the difficulty of text translation
The combination of text-focused and translator-oriented approaches
This paper explores the impact of text complexity on translators’ subjective perception of translation difficulty and on their cognitive load. Twenty-six MA translation students from a UK university were asked to translate three English texts with different complexity into Chinese. Their eye movements were recorded by an eye-tracker, and their cognitive load was self-assessed with a Likert scale before translation and NASA-TLX scales after translation. The results show that: (i) the intrinsic complexity measured by readability, word frequency and non-literalness was in line with the results received from informants’ subjective assessment of translation difficulty; (ii) moderate and positive correlations existed between most items in the self-assessments and the indicator (fixation and saccade durations) obtained by the eye-tracking measurements; and (iii) the informants’ cognitive load as indicated by fixation and saccade durations (but not for pupil size) increased significantly in two of the three texts along with the increase in source text complexity.
Keywords: text complexity, translation difficulty, cognitive load, eye-tracking, self-assessment
Published online: 08 January 2019
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