Putting one 's Heart into Simultaneous Interpretation!

Tatiana Klonowicz University of Warsaw

linguistic communication contributes to a wide variety of phenomena in psychology .andis itself a subject matter of psychology, is obvious the point. of banality. Communication holds individuals and societies it()ge:th~~r. According to a dictionary definition,

In order to have communication, both the transmitter and the receiver must share a cortunon code, so that the meaning or information contained in the message may be interpreted without error (Reber 1986: 136).

remedy communication difficulties among people who are considered to 'the same language, psychologists propose and implement various training To enable people to share other cultures, an additional element , must often be incorporated into the communication process, i.e., atranslator ",U/'hn',,' role consists in rendering the' meaning of information according to the rules of a target language.

Decoding a message presented in one language and encoding it in another appears to be a challenging task. The demands, as' well as the responsibility associated with this task make it an interesting object for psychological study. However, so far, translation has been analyzed almost exclusively asa linguistic

or psycholinguistic process (cf. Brislin 1976; Even-Zohar and Toury 1981; Gilewskil986; Koller 1979). Although such research has helped to provide a

better insight into certain aspects of translation, we are still far from understanding the more complex processes and mechanisms involved. Perhaps




it is the complexity of the task which has led most authors to refer to the: translator not in terms of a human being, 'but rather in terms of abstract constructs. The term "black box" became an all-inclusive label which seemed to absolve the researcher from looking into the intricacies of the work carried out by a translator.

Psycholinguistic research, concerned mostly with the degree of equivalence's of target and source languages, has achieved little to correct this bias. Perhaps the only concession to the human factor is the attention paid within this approach to the nature'-and character of encoding and decoding operations performed by translators (Barik 1975; Goldman-Eisler 1972; Goldman-Eisler and Cohen 1975).

The present research/, which is part of a broader research project (Klonowicz 1992) is focused on the translator whose skill and effort make it possible to cope with the complex requirements of being a decoder and conveyor of meaning. The project deals with simultaneous interpretation as variation of translation mediated by the communication process. Sl is process of orally converting a message from-one language into another as the message is being received (Barik 1975). An appraisal of the process (Klonowicz 1992) suggests that at any moment, the interpreter may be engaged - either simultaneously or in very rapid succession - in the following actions:

1) listening to what is being said by the speaker, i.e., receiving the message;

2) understanding the meaning, i.e., decoding themessage; 3) converting the meaning into the target language, i.e., encoding the message; 4)delivering the translated version, i.e. emitting the message. Each of the actions has a complex hierarchical ~tructure. . All of them must be performed in real time and under considerable time pressure since the interpreter must reasonably-keep pace with

the speaker in delivering the translated version. .

The crucial task characteristics of dual information processing, the necessity to store for subsequent processing the continuation of the message as the speaker delivers it, the time pressure, audience influence and social responsibility, all combine to make SI an ideal potent naturalistic stimulus condition for stress research in general, and for the study of information processing under stress, in particular.

The aim of the present study was to investigate the performance of simultaneous interpreters from the perspective of management of energy resources involved in information processing. Perhaps the most elegant way of studying information processing has been proposed within the. cognitive psychophysiological approach (cf. Ciarkowska 1992). Unfortunately when

',;,nnl,f'f1 to the investigation of information flow in terms of the processing stages between presentation of an utterance by a speaker and completion of response (interpreting the utterance into a target language), this appoach, on measurement of the separate stages, will inevitably lead to simplitication. The requirement, by this approach, to divide the process separate stages, leads to the loss of the view of the process as a whole. A caricature of the interpreter is one of a "speaking dictionary", i.e., (!{\Tnp/~np performing very tiny bits of interpretation (e.g., word by word). This characterization has little in common with the real demands of the task. of this research paradigm is all too obvious. Interpretation thus

'.·'-''-'UV'''l''.UQJlU,.,u becomes a test of the most elementary switches between the two but provides no information whatsoever on more complex '\{mlech;ani~ims and feedbacks (Klonowicz 1992).

There is, however, another way to investigate the allocation of resources in '~U'''H'.'"'''VH processing in general, and in SI in particular. This approach, ~U\J'IJL~;U in the present study ,is centered on the concept of processing capacity. main assumption is that the human being is a limited processor which can

loaded to varying. degrees and which responds to· this load. Investigations out within this framework focus on the search for capacity limits and

measurement of processing load, on the one hand, and on the allocation of on the other.

main argument in favour of this approach stems from the model

by Sanders (1983). Motivated by the need to explain the

consequences of psychological stress, Sanders succeeded in the two approaches - cognitive and capacity - to information ,;)plrOCessmg. In brief, the model assumes that the processing stages at the level are coupled with, and depend upon, resources or energy supplies guarantee that the effort will be deployed to meet the task demands. The )i>rlPrc,,, supply mechanisms responsible for the input and output processing as well as the response choice stage can . be investigated within the " .... VF,'H"·ve psychology paradigm. However, since their functioning is supervised and coordinated by a higher order mechanism; information about their stages can also be gathered at a more general level, i.e. within the "sandwich paradigm" (Linden & McEachern 1985), without probing into more specific mechanisms.

The validity of this approach to the evaluation of changes in resource strategy as a consequence of stress associated with SI has been demonstrated in previous research (Klonowicz 1990, 1992). The data indicate that SI requires


allocation of considerable effort as measured by cardiovascular activity and that the effort deployed in order to meet the demands of SI depends on task difficulty as well as on individual differences in skill and basic personality (temperament).

Perhaps the most interesting result was that cardiovascular activity increased Significantly before an interpretation 20 to 30 minute shift (henceforth referred to as a "tum") and that in a subjectively easier task, this mobilization was followed by the normalization of systolic blood pressure and heart rate; but not of diastolic blood pressure. After completion of such a turn, systolic blood pressure and heartsrate dropped back almost to the baseline level, whereas diastolic blood pressure remained significantly elevated.

Appearance of the "mobilization wave" was interpreted in terms of exaggerated resources activation caused by anticipated task difficulty, whereas the "normalization wave" was hypothesized to reflect the process of adjustment of resources to a task which gradually becomes more familiar. In view of the fact that this interpretation was based on data aggregated across several turns, i.e., over different periods of the day, it should be regarded as a tentative explanation only. If this interpretation is true, recurring cycles of resource mobilization-normalization can be expected during a day's work. Previous attempts to investigate this issue (Klonowicz in press) indicated sustained mobilization, while normalization was demonstrated only in the first and.second shifts. However, the above-mentioned study did not control for task difficulty which was later shown to considerably influence the process of normalization of cardiovascular activity. Subjective perception of high level of task difficulty blocked the normalization (Klonowicz 1992). The present study was devised as a further test of the hypothesis of resource mobilization adjustment according to task demands. The experiment was focused on patterns of cardiovascular activity as a measure of effort. Level of performance - another measure of adequacy of resources allocation - was not investigated. It has been argued elsewhere that this line of research not only presents enormous technical difficulties, but also is fraught with errors of SUbjective judgment (Klonowicz in press). The current experiment is based on the assumption that, since the participants in the study are top-ranking simultaneous interpreters, they either "deliver the best quality product" or quit, i.e., signal for a replacement. .Just as performance level was semi-controlled by means of subject selection, the processing load was controlled by the choice of conferences with balanced levels of difficulty.





2. Method

2.1. Subjects

Subjects were 16 (7 male, 9 female) professional interpreters who volunteered to participate in the study. None of them showed borderline hypertension nor had a parental history of hypertension.

, 2.2. Design '

Subjects were individually tested in a factorial ANOV A design involving factors Subjects and Situation. The latter factor comprises 9 levels: a baseline and 8 rneasures of cardiovascular activity before and after each of four 30-minute turns (from the beginning of the conference until the lunch break). Since the full mobilization-normalization pattern was shown to appear only for interpretation into a foreign language", interpreters who in, the course of a working day had to switch directions, i.e., interpret intoPolish,were not included in the study. Also excluded were those subjects who - for a variery of both objective and/or subjective reasons - worked shorter turns.

2.3. Procedure

The experiment was carried outin a natural setting, .i.e., during a conference. All measures were taken immediately prior to and after a 30-min tum in a booth. All subjects were familiar with the procedure (2 habituation sessions were run for this purpose in an experimental setting). Moreover, cardiovascular readings were taken for each interpreter on three separate, mildly active, semi-social occasions which did not involve interpreting. The averaged values of the obtained measures served as baselines,

2.4. Apparatus

Cardiovascular activity measures were taken with a Timex automatic blood pressure and heart rate monitor. This is an electronic cuff device which gives a digital display of blood pressure and heart rate. The cuff is initially deflated to 140-160 mm Hg and then deflates to arrive at a systolic blood pressure

,(SBP). Subsequent readings give diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate



(HR). The cuff was placed on the upper left arm. The monitor was checked as an accurate automatic measure of cardiovascular activity.

3. Results

BL. Pre 1 Post 1 Pre 2 Post 2 Pre 3 Post 3 Pre 4 Post 4.



Figure 2. Mean scores ofHR during baseline and two task periods for each turn Pre (Post) - measurements taken before and after each turn (from 1 through 4)

inspecnon of the pattern of results in Figures 1 and 2 indicates that only SBP HR seem to be sensitive to the task period, whereas the increase inDBP relatively stable across time periods. The planned comparisons more specifically identify where the differences across time periods lie. These comparisons are of special interest because they indicate differential effects of two periods of work ~ the beginning andthe end - on allocation of resources a day. Changes in cardiovascular activity associated with the two

periods were assessed by comparing the readings obtained before and after shift with the baseline (BL). The first step consisted in assessment of the mobilization wave (Pretest values numbered 1 through 4), and in the second step, the normalization wave was evaluated (Posttest values numbered 1 through 4). Table 1 contains the t values obtained in specific comparisons of baseline vs. various task periods. This table has to be looked at in connection with Figures 1 and 2 which show the mean values for each of the 9 conditions.

As the data in Table 1 indicate, the mobilization wave is manifest in all three -measures of cardiovascular activity. Commencement of each turn causes


The results are presented in Figures 1 and 2. The figures depict the mean scores of blood pressure and heart rate in the control baseline condition (BL), at the beginning (Prejand at the end (Post) of the 4 turns. Vertical bars in Figure 1 are dividetl to represent two sets of data each: SBP and DBP. Bars in Figure 2 represent one set of data: HR.

ANOVAs with repeated measures were run on these data. GreenhouseGeisser-adjusteddegrees of freedom were used to control for biased F-tests. ANOV As revealeda.significant effect of Situation on all three sets of data: SBP -F (5,81)=4.67; DBP-F (4,72)=3.54; HR (5,76)=4.33; p(lower limit) < 0.05. This outcome indicates that SI produced reliable changes from baselines' in all three cardiovascular measures.

Figure 1. Mean scores of SBP and DBP during baselines and two task periods for turn Pre (Post) - measurements taken before and after each turn (from 1 through 4)

130 120 110 100

90 80 70 60 50







130 120 110 100

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10

o ~ __ -L __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~~~L-_




significant elevations of SBP, DBP, and HR over the baseline levels. Comparisons of levels of baseline cardiovascular activity with the cardiovascular activity at the end of the turns indicate that normalization occurs systematically for SBP only (none of the t values reached the level of significance). recorded at the end of each shift were significantly higher than the va""H~.'" DBP value, indicating that after initial mobilization, this parameter cardiovascular activity is not subject to normalization. For HR, the indicate initial good recovery (the first two "Post" HR values do not differ significantly from the baseline), but with time, this pattern is broken and in the two following shiffs, the once elevated HR is sustained.

By the end of a tum and throughout a given day, SBP normalized "<;;~;Ul.a.uJ , whereas HR normalization took place only through the first turns. normalization was demonstrated for DBP. The question arises as to the

unctional significance of these changes in cardiovascular activity.

Recent studies produced evidence that tasks such as mental arithmetic or games elicit cardiovascular activity seemingly in excess of that expected the basis of concurrent energy expenditure (Carroll, Turner & Hellawell

86; Gliner, Bunnell & Horvath 1982; Turner and Carroll 1985). Although situational determinants of this excessive mobilization of the cardiovascular remain unclear, the data point to the role of task difficulty and its vuocu."'U6U~6 nature. The results of the present study are consistent with the that people exhibit exaggerated cardiovascular responses to stress of

unfamiliar mental task. The present results replicated previous reports of the of a mobilization wave, and the cardiovascular findings were largely I,AlIJl;)l;)lC<;;lH with previous work (cf. Klonowicz 1990, 1992, in press). Thus it be concluded that elevations of SBP, DBP, and HR observed at the ~J!01l11111Jlb of each work shift represent a period of "active preparedness" to face challenge.

In the present experiment, longer time-on-task periods were investigated than usually the case in psychophysiological research. Time-on-task is supposed be the main factor in adjustment of cardiovascular activity to real task

demands which become more familiar as an interpreter gains knowledge of the the topic, speech rhythm,accent, vocabulary, and so forth. it may be concluded that the appearance of the normalization reflects' a better match between demand and capacity, i.e., energy resources needed to cope with the task. Similar reasoning would apply to the role of a concomitant factor in SI; accelerated responses of the cardiovascular to public speaking were also shown to decrease following performance & Borden 1979; Long, Lynch, Machiran, Thomas and Manilow 1982). Further extension of the temporal frame of the experiment beyond one tum made it possible to detect that with time the normalization pattern is broken; once elevated, cardiovascular activity tends to remain high (the only exception being SBP). Since the initial activation reported in this and in an earlier study (Klonowicz in press) remains massive, this may indicate that long term performance causes deficits in matching resources to task demands or else elicits a counteraction against growing fatigue that would lead to performance decrements. The two explanations are consistent with Sanders' (1983) model of resources allocation and his research which demonstrated overextension of

Table 1. Pair-Wise Comparisons of the Effects of Task Conditions (t valuest" for Three Measures of Cardiovascular Activity

Comparison SBP DBP HR
1. Mobilization
BL vs. Prel 2.86** 2.53* 2.91 **
BL vs. Pr~ 2.75** 2.63* 3.03**
BL vs. Pre3 3.03** 2.83** 2.74*
BL vs. Pre4 3.80** 2.92** 2.86**
2. Normalization
BL vs. Post I 0.18 2.05* 0.76
BL vs. Post2 0.08 2.03t 1.19
BL vs. Post3 0.60 2.07* 2.09*
BL vs. Post4 1.08 2.49* 2.68* The level of significance for these comparisons was adjusted according to Bonferrorii statistics:oc multiplied by 2, df31




4. Discussion

Subjects responded differently to two -. beginning and end - turns. The beginning of a tum produced .a large increase on all three cardiovascular






resources under stress of high activation. Although neither of these hypothetical explanations could be tested in the present study, both seem to indicate an increasing amount of stress that disrupts the proper functioning of the energy allocation mechanism.

Thus the results reported in this study indicate the functional significance of the pattern of changes in cardiovascular activity. It is generally recognized that preparedness for a future task is highly.adaptive because it allows a precursive tuning. As Epstein (1967: 105) states,

The article was published in the 'Polish Psychological Bulletin'.

.This research was supported by grant RPBP III. 25 and by a grant to theauthor from the Ministry of National Education, Project No. ,40.

In Poland, simultaneous interpreters are required to interpret either into a foreign language or into Polish (the language of the country). As a rule, professional interpreters - who are at least bilingual- consider the latter task to be more difficult (K1onowicz 1992). It can be speculated that the reason why interpreting into Polish is perceived as more difficult as compared with interpreting into a foreign language is that the situation undergoes considerable change. When interpreting into a foreign language, the interpreter associates 'the speaker with a portion of the audience speaking this language, i.e., the interpreter is in control of one communication channel only. When interpreting into Polish, the interpreter -becomes additionally a source for his/her colleagues (other interpreters) who - more often than not "prefer to rely on the Polish input. Hence, there is an immediate increase in

responsibility, because several other language versions delivered to conference participants

• depend on the person interpreting into Polish. Thus, the 'Polish booth' assumes the role of the principal communication channel between speaker and audience as a whole, and it is in this event that the.tmainrenance synergy' of the communication system becomes a oneperson responsibility.

"it is at times necessary to pay the price of momentary increase of arousal if one is to later be able to respond at a reduced level of arousal" .

However, there remains a problem of the consequences of this arousal.

The present study demonstrated that arousal - as evidenced by increases' cardiovascular activity - recurs systematically and even increases. Atask regularly overtaxes a mechanism responsible for resource allocation leads to a protracted reaction. It is noteworthy that at the beginning of each shift SBP and DBP immediately increased and that over the course of the shift SBP dropped while DBP remained elevated. This patterning of cardiovascular events resembles a miniature of the time course of 9100<1 pressure changes often seen .:

in the development of essential hypertension. -

The findings reported in the present study may have clinical importance for,

the development of hypertension and heart disease. The full clinical'

significance of these data remains to be. demonstrated.. At present, it can be said that SI is indeed an effortful task. The workload and the high exte~al demand for successful performance may constitute a health risk factor.

The question arises as to why people take up this hazardous occupation. One answer may be that it is creative as well as challenging - and unlike many other creative activities - provides immediate reinforcement in terms of knowledge of results. According to Carruthers (1980), the hidden mechanism underlying the search for hazardous occupations is that they cause norepinephrine secretion, which is usually pleasurable. The wheel spinscS! increases arousal and stimulates norepinephrine release, -which brings pleasurable sensations, but also has an excitatory effect on the sympathetic nervous system and hence accelerates cardiovascular activity. ' ,

Barik, H.C. 1975. "Simultaneous Interpretation: Qualitative and Linguistic Data". •. '~ Language and Speech 18. 272-297.

Brislin, R. 1976. Translation: Application and Research. New York: Gardner. Carroll, D., Turner, I.R. & Hell awell, I.C. 1986. "Heart Rate and Oxygen

Consumption During Active Psychological Challenge: TheEffects of Level of Difficulty". Psychophysiology 23,174-181.

Carruthers, M. 1980. "Hazardous Occupations and the Heart". C.L. Cooper & R.

Payne, eds. Current Concerns in Occupational Stress. New York: Wiley.

Ciarkowska, W. 1992. Psychofuiologicma analiza aktywnosci poznawczej

(psychological Analysis of Cognitive Activity). WrocIaw: Ossolineum.

Epstein, W. 1967. Varieties of Perceptual Learning. New York: McGraw-Hili. Even-Zohar, 1. and G. Toury, eds. 1981. Theory of Translation and Intercultural Relations. Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics.

Gilewski, W. 1986. Psycholingwistyczne aspekty procesu tlumaczenia (psycholinguistic Aspects of the Translation Process). University of Warsaw, Poland. [Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation.]



Gliner, J.A., Bunnell, D.E. & Horvath, S.M. 1982. "Hemodynamic and Metabolic Changes Prior to Speech Performance". Physiological Psychology 10, 108-113.

Goldman-Eisler, F. 1972. "Segmentation of Input in Simultaneous Translation".

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Goldman-Eisler, F. & Cohen, M. 1975. "An Experimental Study of Interference Between Receptive and Productive Processes Involving Speech". International . Journal of Psycholinguistics 1, 5-6.

Klonowicz, T. 1990. "A Psychological Assessment of Simultaneous Interpretation: The Interaction of Individual Differences and Mental Workload". Polish Psychological Bulletin 21, 37-4~.

Klonowicz, T. 1992. Stres w wiety Babel (Stress in the Tower of Babel). Wroclaw:


Klonowicz, T. (in press). "The Effort of Simultaneous Interpretation: It's Been a Hard Day ... " Babel. Revue Internationale de la Traduction.

Knight, M.L. & Borden, R.J. 1979. "Autonomic and Affective Reactions of Highand Low Socially-Anxious Individuals Awaiting Public Performance" . Psychophysiology 16. 209-213; Koller, W. 1979. Einfuhrung indieUbersetzung-wissenschaft, Heidelberg: Quelle & Meyer.

Linden, W. & McEachern, H.M. 1985. "A Review of Physiological Prestress Adaptation: Effects of Duration and. Context". International Journal of Psychophysiology 2, 239-245.

Long, J.M., Lynch, J.J., Machiran, N.M., Thomas, S.A. & Manilow, K.L. 1982 ..

"The Effect of Status on Blood Pressure During Verbal Communication". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 5, 165-172.

Reber, A.S. 1983. Dictionary of Psychology. London: Penguin Books. Sanders, A.F. 1983. "Towards a Model of Stress and Human Performance". Acta Psychologica 53,61-97.

Turner, J.R. & Carroll, D. 1985. "Heart Rate and Oxygen Consumption During Mental Arithmetic, a Video Game, and Graded Exercise: Further Evidence of Metabolically-exaggerated Cardiac Adjustment". Psychophysiology 22,261-267.

Intonation In The Production And Perception Of Simultaneous Interpretation

Miriam Shlesinger University of Tel-Aviv

. . Introduction

One of the central themes in the study of intonation has been its role in the creation of meaning, and the relevance of intonational contrasts to the grammar. Attempts at analyzing the paralinguistic and intonational elements have included -frequent reference to the importance of establishing the potential of two given utterances which differ in nothing other than intonational features to carry two different meanings (Ladd 1980; El-Menoufy 1988). The functionality of choices and their role in facilitating (or obstructing) communication by now a universal point of departure in the literature.

Englishintonation contrasts are grammatical: they areexploited in the ~rammar of the .language. The systems expounded by intonation are just as much grammatical as are those, such as tense, number and mood.iexpounded by other means (Hililiday 1967).

Frequent reference is also made to the pragmatics of intonation. and the effect of differences in the communicative situations. Thus; for example, a . pronounced "build-up" before a pause is a feature of fiery oratory (Pike 1945); an increase in the number of tone groups per clause typifies formal speech (Halliday 1970), as does the prevalence of level tone (pitch movement 3) (Halliday 1985); the tendency towards regular beat marks casual spontaneous speech, as opposed to the self-conscious, monitored variety (Halliday 1985); strict correlations between breaths and grammatical junctures are a feature of

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