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Valeria Daro, Sylvie Lambert, Franco Fabbro: Conscious monitoring of attention during simultaneous interpretation

Valeria Daro, Sylvie Lambert, Franco Fabbro: Conscious monitoring of attention during simultaneous interpretation

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Consciousmonitoringofattentionduringsimultaneousinterpretation
VALERIADARO*,SYLVIELAMBERToANDFRANCOFABBRO+
Thisstudyaddressesforthefirsttimeonanexperimentallevelthequestionofwhetherdifferentmodalitiesofconsciousmonitoringofattention(normalcondi-tion,attentionfecalizationonthe,input,attentionfocalizationontheoutput,c6ncli.tj,onwithGvoices)mayaffectthe
number
andthe
typeofmistakes
madebyJ~~ultaneou~,~nterpretersindifferentsituations.Themajorresultsofthestudy<irethefol'fdwing:(i)Whilethe
overallnumber
ofmistakesisinfluencedeitherbythetranslationdirection,orbyanyofthefourtestedattentionfocalizationmodlilities,a
particulartype
ofmistakes,
i.e.
thoseleadingtolossofinformation,occurmore'oftenduringactiveSI(fromL1intoL2,i.e.from
'A
t,o,
B)
of
diff1,~
,uUltexts;(ii)duringpassiveSIofdifficulttexts,missinginfoknktionmisi?fearelessfrequentwheninterpreterslistentotheincomingmessagewiththiirleftearonly;(iii)inactiveSIofdifficulttexts,attentionshouldnotbefocussedontheincomingmessageinparticular,soastoavoidso-calledaddedmistakes.Theseresultsshowthatduringsimultaneousinterpreta-tion,consciousattentionfocalizationontheinputorontheoutputdoesnotinfluencetheinterpreter'soverallperformance,howeverwithanimportant
exception:
duringactiveinterpretationitcouldbeusefulforinterpreterstofocustheirattentionontheoutput,sincethismayhelpthem,toreduceinparticularfalsestarts,pauses,hesitations,corrections,additionsandmorphosyntacticmis-takes.
InterpretingVol.1(1),1996.101-124
©
JohnBenjaminsPublishingCo.
 
Investigatingth-eroleofconsciousmonitoringofattentionduringsimuitane-
OIlS
interpretation
(Sl)
isadifficulttaskforseveraldifferentreasons.Oneofthe
first
difilcultiesconc~rnsthenecessjtyofdefining
attention.
AsWilliamJamesrightlypomtedout,"every/onekno,v~whatattentionjs'>,h~~veV;~Jtisnotatalleasytoformulateaprecisedefi~tionofit.Hehimselfsuggestedthat"focalizationandconcentrationofconsciousnessareofitsessence"(James,1890:416).Th6!edifficultyinfindinganappropriategeneraldefmi
;."
ofattentionledman)'autborstoresorttometaphoricalexpressioasindescribe
this
cOgnIDvefunction.Acomrnonmetaphorforattentiospoiligbtsystemfoundintheatres."Aspotlightisselective(beamwidhasintensity.\Vilatisoutsidethespotlightishardlynoticed"(vanZomeren
&
Brollwer,19'94:
7).
Recentresearchstudiesonhumanmemoryhavehighlightedtheimpor-
tant
roleofattentionduringtasksofmemorizationofverbalmaterial.Forexample,verbalshort-termmemoryisseverelydisruptedifconsciousatten-tion
is
notsteadilyfocussedonthetask.Infact,oneofthefundamentalcomponentsofworkingmemory,i.e.thecentralexecutive-system,is
'~-h~"'.~'
~"b
elsebutacoordinationmechanism,ofattentivefunctionsthatactivatedduringmemorizationtasks(Baddeley,1990;Darb
&
Fabbro,.:Moreover,focalizedattentionisalsoofparamountimportancein
the
oflong-termverbalmemorization.Recentstudies..haveshownlong-termmemory
is
mainlybasedontworadicallydifferentsystems:
explicit
I1xemory
and
implicitmemory
(Tulving,1987;Schacteretal.,1983).Theybasicallydifferfroraeacbotherwithrespecttotheroleofawareness,andthusoffocalizedattention,duringmemorizationprocesses,ExpliCitmemory,whichindudessemantie-andepisodic-memory,isreinforced'
by,
focussingattentionrl;uringlearning
tasks,
whereasimplicitmemorydoesnotr~quirecoasciousattentioafocalizatioaduringtheacquisition'ofproceduralindeed
it
isevenimpairedifattentionisconsciouslyfocussedon
u",',,,,,""'..
partsofthetask(Ellis,1994;,Darb,inpress).Inmetaphorical,
L...._"F"....4bv'
focussingone'sattention'whilecarryingoutaproceduraltaskwoulddirectingabeamoflightontoanegativethatstillhastobe
rtA~I"'''
effectisdevastating.
In
thelastdecadeseveralneuropsychologicalresearchstudieshavebeencarriedout
in
ordertodefinetheneurofunctionalbasesofhumanmemory103
ONSCIOUSATIENTIONIN
SIconnectionwithattentivefunctions.Ithasbeenlesionstothefrontallobesofthebraincausesevere!impairmentsinthefunctioningofthecentralexecutiveofworkingmemory:individualswithfrontallesionsarenolongerabletoappropriatelyj.focustheirattentionduringshort-termmemorizationtasks(Shallice,198'8).Asregardslong-termmemory,aseriesofneurologicaldiseaseshave.beenfoundtohavedevastatingeffectswithtypicalfindingsofdoubledissociations.Whilesomespecificcorticallesionsintheparietalandtemporallobesmayselectivelyimpairexplicitmemory(i.e.semanticand/orepisodicmemoryj.Iesionstothebasalgangliaortothecerebellumgenerallydisruptsomecompbn~iitsofimplicitmemory(e.g.theabilitytocarryoutcertainprocedures;seeAglioti
&
Fabbro,1993;Peranietal.,1994;Fabbro
&
Paradis,1995).'Another~'~riesofneuro~sychol~gicalstu~ieshast~ckledt~eproblem~ftheroleofeacp';cerebralhemispheremregulatmgattentivefunctions,There
1S
wideagreemd~tjoV,theideathatinright-handedindividuals,whomakeupabout90%oniliehiumanpopulation(seeBryden,1982),therighthemisphere
i~
~e:s'ponsiblett~t.9~ganizingwhatisgenerallyknownas"diffuseattention",ie:thekindofah:ei,Wtiondevotedtoexternaleventsoccurringinthesurround-ingenvironment"iiratcontrolsboththerightandthelefthemispaceand'preparestheorganismforgeneralizedaction.Ontheotherhand,clinicaldataspeakinfavorofaleft-hemispheredominanceforconsciousness.Actually,patientswithIeft-hemispherelesionshavesignificantlylowerlevelsofcon-sciousnesscdnp~edtopatientswithright-hemispherelesions(vanZomeren&Brouwer,1994:54-60).Sincethelefthemisphereisalsogenerallydomi-nantforlanguag:e,itisreasonabletosuggestthatconsciousattentionmaybeinfluencedartd:c9ntrolledbylinguisticfunctions(Fabbro,1989;1990;
Dennet,
1991)."'J":I~',:rj
Therole'~fn.!'ihsciousattentionduringtheacquisitionofthecomplexautomatizedsen~bt~-motorandcognitivetasks(i.e.
procedures)
involvedinsimultaneousinterpretation(S1)andduringtheperformanceofthistaskhasnotbeenthoroughlyinvestigatedasyet(Lawson,1967;Lambert,DarbandFabbro,1995).However,somestudiesofexperimentalpsychologyonatten~tion(Allport,Antonis
&
Reynolds,1972;Spelke,Hirst&Neisser,1976;Hirst,Spelke.Reaves,Caharack
&
Neisser,1980)aswellasgeneralintuitionregardingthe!teachingofS1strategiesandtechniquessuggestthatintheinitialstageoil'acquisitionofthesecomplexprocedures,attentionhastobe
 
eollsdOl'l~IJi
activ~1ed
,and
de'loted
to
thediffe:rent
skin
compoIJi~~!fS.tisexactJly
in
tms
stagethatbegffinerstendtomakemoremistakes
in
thejffoutput.Later
ml,
smdents
deselop
acertaindegreeof"automaticity"toreachapointwbere,fit:epmfessionalinterprieters,itismuchbetterforthemtoavoidcoocentta't:illl!gon.meproceffimllaspectsofthetaskand
to
concentraterather
011
.It!be
mi;Qmg
i3!Ildoutgoingmessages.AtheoreticalexpianationforthiskindoftypicaldevelopmentduringtheacquisitionstagesofSIisnowavailable:SinceS1basicstrategiesare
procedures,
theyareverylikelytobestoredandorganizedinimplicitmemorysystems,thustheactivationofconsciousattentionrendstohampertheirsmoothfunctioningbycallingother,systemsintoactionwhichareunnecessaryanddisturbing(Dare,1995a,.1995b).However,thesearerathergenericremarks.Onehastoconsiderthatthedifferentlanguagesknownbyabilingualorpolyglotindividuat~aybe
,;,.f!:;~0,<},;."'.,
differentlyorganizedwithinlong-termmemorysystems.
In
such
a
case,thefirstlan,guagetendstohaveapredominantlyimplicitrepresentationasop-posedtothesecondandt1:J.lldanguagewhicharegenerallymainlyorganizedinexp1.icitmemorysystems.Thismayhaveimportantrepercussionsonatten-
ti...
e
fuBC;tions.duringSI,accordingtothedirectionoftranslation(paradis,1994).
Foil
example,
it
maybebetternottofocusone'sattentionontheoutputduring"passive'interpretation(intoone'sLl),butratherduring"active"interpretation(fromL1intoL2orL3).TheroleofattentionfocalizationduringSIhasbeeninvestigatedinthepresentexperiment,andinparticular:a)thepossibilityand/orutilityforprofessionalsimultaneousinterpreterstofocustheirattentioneiptheinputorontheoutputandb)theinfluenceofattentionfocali
,h
oninterpreters'performanceaccordingtothedirectionoftranslationandearofinput..Thepresentpaperbringsadditionaldatatoapreliminarywork(Lam-bert,Daro&Fabbro,1995),byfocussingthediscussiononthe
numberandtypeoferrors
occurringinS1tasksduringwhichconsciousmonitoringofattentionwasperformedindifferentmodalities.Materialsandmethods
SubjectsandDesign:
ThesubjectsofthisexperimentalstudywereJ6right-handedFrench/EnglishbilingualinterpretersworkingforCanadi~I~?em-mentalinstitutions(e.g.SecretaryofState,ParliamentaryCommissionsetc.).
CONSCIOUSATIENTIONIN
81105':TheirhandpreferencehasbeenassessedbymeansoftheBriggsandNebes'
!
test(1975).Allsubjectsvolunteeredfortheexperimentwhichwascarriedout,i'inadedicatedroomoftheSchoolforTranslationandInterpretationatthe
lei'
"UniversityofOttawa.Thesubjects'agerangedfrom30to82(averageage
=
43),theyearsoftheirprofessionalactivityrangedfrom1to29(average
=
13years),AllofthemwereworkingwithEnglishandFrench:fivesubjectshad..Englishasfirstlanguage,theremainderhadFrench.Theymainlyworkedinto:theirrespectivemothertongue.fhoughtheywereoftenrequestedtoworkinto.theirL2aswell.Allbutfivesubjectsknewadditionallanguageswithoutusingthemforprofessionalpurposes.Theexperimentaldesignallowedforthestudyoffourindependentvariables:(1)Attention(fourlevels:controlcondition;focalizedattentionontheinput;focalizedattentionontheoutput;conditionwithtwoconcurrentmessagesexpressedbytwodifferentvoices);(2)TranslationDirection(twolevels:fromL2intoL1,so-calledpassiveinterpretation;fromL1intoL2,so-calledactiveinterpretation);(3)TextType(twolevels:easytexts;difficulttexts);(4)EarofInput(threelevels:rightear;leftear;binaural).
Texts:
TheverbalmaterialtobepresentedtothesubjectsinEnglishandin'FrenchwassJbdividedinto"easy"and"difficult"texts.
I
Easytexts
consistedof12microtexts(seeAppendix),eachonebeingmadeupof5simplesentences(mainclauses)combinedinaparatacticstyle,whichincludedonlyverycommoneverydaylanguagewordswithhighoccurrencefrequency.Eachmicrotextrepresentedacompletecoherentandcohesiveunit
I
(seedeBeaugrande&Dressler1981)correspondingtoashortmeaningfulandsemanticallyexhaustivestory.MostEnglisheasytextsweretaken,withafewadaptations,fromHendrich'spracticebookforsimultaneousinterpret-'ing(Hendrich,1971)andtheFrencheasytextswere·freetranslationsofexercisedrills.fromthesamebook.
Difficulttexts
consistedof12microtexts(seeAppendix),eachonebeingmadeupof5longermainclauses,butthistimeeachrnicrotextalwaysincludedarelativeclauseaswell.Relativeclausestendtobemoredifficulttounderstand,inthattheyseemtoputmoreloadontheprocessingsystem(seeCook,1975).Moreover,sinceinEnglishrelativepronounsprovideasurface.structurecluetocomprehensionprocessing,thusrenderingcomprehension'easierthanwhenoptionalrelativepronounsareomitted(Fodor&Garrett,.1967),itwasdecidedtodroptheminallEnglishdifficultsentences.Again,

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