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Title: Working memory in conference simultaneous interpreting
Other Titles: Working memory in conference simultaneous interpreting
Authors: Timarova, Sarka
Issue Date: 4-Jun-2012
Abstract: This dissertation addresses the question of working memory involvement in conference simultaneous interpreting. Working memory is considered to be a crucial cognitive mechanism for the simultaneous interpreting process, but this assumption has not been substantially supported empirically. The present study builds on an analysis of theoretical literature in both cognitive psychology and Interpreting Studies. A review of previously published empirical research identified several gaps, namely that research focused on a limited range of working memory functions (primarily memory functions) and on participants with no or limited interpreting experience. The design of the present study includes a wider range of working memory tests, with emphasis on central executive functions (related to attention) and on recruitment of professional interpreters. InterpretersÂ’ performance on working memory tests and an interpreting task was compared. The results show that a) interpretersÂ’ working memory is related to their performance in simultaneous interpreting, b) that simultaneous interpreting is predominantly related to the central executive functions, but not to memory functions, c) that some working memory functions seem to develop with interpreting experience, while others do not, and d) that the relationship between working memory and simultaneous interpreting is best described as many-to-many, i.e. different working memory functions predict different sub-processes in simultaneous interpreting in multiple complex patterns. The conclusions of this study are data-driven, but in line with current literature. More specifically, the findings support those accounts of simultaneous interpreting which emphasise attentional control as an important component of simultaneous interpreting processing.
Table of Contents: Contents
Acknowledgments 3
Abstract 7
Contents 9
List of figures 11
List of tables 11
Introduction 13
Chapter 1. Working memory 15
1.1. The nature of working memory 15
1.2. Conceptualising working memory: models 15
1.3. Working memory models: Discussion 21
1.4. Working memory and interpreting 23
1.5. Working memory and its role in interpreting process models 29
Chapter 2. Measuring working memory 31
2.1. Components of working memory 33
2.2. Working memory and language processing 36
2.3. Working memory and bilingual language processing 39
2.4. Working memory and skilled performance 40
Chapter 3. Simultaneous interpreting and working memory: previous research 44
3.1. Do interpreters have a better working memory than non-interpreters? 45
3.2. Is working memory related to interpreting? 52
3.3. Where next? 57
Chapter 4. Method 60
4.1. General methodological considerations 60
4.2. Measuring working memory 63
4.3. Measuring simultaneous interpreting 68
4.4. Additional measures 74
4.5. Specific method 75
Chapter 5. Results and discussion 91
5.1. Descriptive statistics 91
5.2. Structure of interpreters’ working memory 95
5.3. Structure of simultaneous interpreting 101
5.4. Working memory and simultaneous interpreting 111
Chapter 6. Conclusions 117
6.1. Methodological limitations 117
6.2. Research questions 118
6.3. Methodological contributions 124
6.4. Suggestions for further research 125
References 126
Annexes 140
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Literature, Discourse and Identity, Leuven (-)
Linguistics Research Unit, Campus Sint-Andries Antwerp - miscellaneous
Linguistics Research Unit - miscellaneous

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