Skip to main content Accessibility help

Does formal training in translation/interpreting affect translation strategy? Evidence from idiom translation*



This study examined whether training in translation/interpretation leads to a reliance on a ‘vertical’ translation strategy in which the source language text is comprehended before the message is reformulated. Students of translation/interpreting and untrained bilinguals were given an idiom translation judgment task with literal (form and meaning) or figurative equivalents (meaning only). Dependent measures included the time taken to comprehend the first presented sentence and the accuracy and speed of judging if the second presented sentence was a translation of the first sentence. The groups did not differ in their speed of reading the first presented sentence but translation verification times differed by group and translation type: untrained bilinguals were significantly faster at verifying literal than figurative translations while trained bilinguals were equally fast for the two types. The pattern of findings is consistent with the view that training in translation fosters a processing-for-meaning-before reformulating, or vertical, translation strategy.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Department of English, National University of Tainan, No. 33, Section 2, Shu-Lin Street, Tainan, Taiwan


Hide All
* We thank the Graduate Institute of Translation and Interpretation at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) for access to participants. We are also grateful to Dr. Li-Jen Kuo of Texas A&M University for her careful evaluation of the stimuli.
Supplementary material can be found online at



Hide All
Bajo, M. T., Padilla, F., & Padilla, P. (2000). Comprehension processes in simultaneous interpreting. In Chesterman, A., Gallardo San Salvador, N., & Gambier, Y. (eds.), Translation in context, pp. 127142. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Basnight-Brown, D.M., & Altarriba, J. (2007). Differences in semantic and translation priming across languages: The role of language direction and language dominance. Memory & Cognition, 35, 953965.
Carrol, G., & Conklin, K. (2014). Getting your wires crossed: Evidence for fast processing of L1 idioms in an L2. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 17 (4), 784797.
Christoffels, I. K., De Groot, A. M. B., & Kroll, J. F. (2006). Memory and language skills in simultaneous interpreters: The role of expertise and language proficiency. Journal of Memory and Language, 54, 324345.
Cieslicka, A. (2006). On building castles on the sand, or exploring the issue of transfer in the interpretation and production of L2 fixed expressions. In Arabski, J. (Ed.), Cross-linguistic influences in the second language lexicon (pp. 226245). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
De Bot, K. (2000). Simultaneous interpreting as language production. In Dimitrova, B.E. & Hyltentenstam, K. (eds.), Language processing and simultaneous interpreting: Interdisciplinary perspectives, pp. 6588. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
De Groot, A. (1997). The cognitive study of translation and interpretation: Three approaches. In Danks, J.H., Shreve, G.M., Fountain, S.B., & McBeath, M.K. (Eds.), Cognitive processes in translation and interpretation (pp. 2556).Thousand Oaks: Sage.
De Groot, A. M. B., & Keijzer, R. (2000). What is hard to learn is easy to forget: The roles of word concreteness, cognate status, and word frequency in foreign-language vocabulary learning and forgetting. Language Learning, 50, 156.
De Groot, A. M. B., & Poot, R. (1997). Word translation at three levels of proficiency in a second language: The ubiquitous involvement of conceptual memory. Language Learning, 47, 215264.
Dimitropoulou, M., Duñabeitia, J.A., & Carreiras, M. (2011). Two words one meaning: Evidence of automatic co-activation of translation equivalents. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 120.
Frauenfelder, U., & Schriefers, H. (1997). A psycholinguistic perspective on simultaneous interpretation. Interpreting, 2 (1-2), 5589.
Frenck-Mestre, C., & Prince. (1997). Second language autonomy. Journal of Memory and Language, 37, 481501.
Gerver, D. (1976). Empirical studies of simultaneous interpretation: A review and a model. In Brislin, R. W. (ed.), Translation: Applications and research, pp. 165207. New York: Gardiner.
Gile, D. (1995). Basic concepts and models for interpreters and translator training. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Green, A., Vaid, J., Schweda-Nicholson, N., White, N., & Steiner, R. (1994). Lateralization for shadowing versus interpretation: A comparison of interpreters with bilingual and monolingual controls. In Lambert, S. and Moser-Mercer, B. (Eds.), Bridging the gap: Empirical research in simultaneous interpretation (331351). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hatzidaki, A., & Pothos, E.M. (2008). Bilingual language representation and cognitive processes in translation. Applied Psycholinguistics, 29, 125150.
Isham, W. P. (1994). Memory for sentence form after simultaneous interpretation: Evidence both for and against deverbalization. In Lambert, S. and Moser-Mercer, B. (Eds.), Bridging the gap: Empirical research in simultaneous interpretation (191211). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Keppel, G., & Wickens, T. (2007). Design and analysis: A researcher's handbook. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Kroll, J. F., & Stewart, E. (1994). Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence of asymmetric connections between bilingual memory representation. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 149174.
Lambert, S. (1988). Information processing among conference interpreters: A test of the depth of processing hypothesis. Meta, 33, 377387.
Macizo, P., & Bajo, M. T. (2006). Reading for repetition and reading for translation: Do they involve the same processes? Cognition, 20, 134.
Paradis, M. (1994). Toward a neurolinguistic theory of simultaneous translation. International Journal of Psycholinguistics, 10, 319335.
Piasecka, L. (2006). ‘Don't lose your head’ or how Polish learners of English cope with L2 idiomatic expressions. In Arabski, J. (Ed.), Cross-linguistic influences in the second language lexicon (pp. 246268). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Ruiz, C., Paredes, N., Macizo, P., & Bajo, M.T. (2008). Activation of lexical and syntactic target language properties in translation. Acta Psychologica, 128, 490500.
Schneider, W., Eschman, A., & Zuccolotto, A. (2002). E-Prime user's guide. Pittsburgh: Psychology Software Tools.
Schwartz, A., & Kroll, J. (2006). Bilingual lexical activation in sentence context. Journal of Memory and Language, 55, 197212.
Seleskovitch, D. (1976). Interpretation: A psychological approach to translating. In Brislin, R.W. (Ed.), Translation: Applications and research (pp. 92116). New York: Gardiner.
Seleskovitch, D. (1999). The teaching of conference interpretation in the course of the last 50 years. Interpreting, 4, 5566.
Shreve, G., Schaeffer, C., & Danks, J. (1993). Is there a special kind of ‘reading’ for translation: An empirical investigation of reading and the translation process. Target, 5 (1), 2141.
Situ, T. (2002). Best Chinese idioms I & II. Hong Kong: Peace Books.
Sjørup, A. (2011). Cognitive effort in metaphor translation: An eye-tracking study. In O'Brien, S. (ed.), Cognitive explorations of translation, pp. 197214. London: Continuum.
Tabossi, P., Fanari, R., & Wolf, K. (2008). Processing idiomatic expressions: Effects of semantic compositionality. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 34, 313327.
Talamas, A., Kroll, J. F., & Dufour, R. (1999). From form to meaning: Stages in the acquisition of second language vocabulary. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 2, 4558.
Tzou, Y. Z., Eslami, Z. R., Chen, H. C., & Vaid, J. (2012). Effects of language proficiency and degree of formal training in simultaneous interpreting on working memory and interpreting performance: Evidence from Mandarin-English speakers. The International Journal of Bilingualism, 16, 213227.
Vaid, J., & Lopez, B. (2015, Nov.). Idiom processing in bilinguals as a function of idiom decomposability and language brokering experience. Poster presented at annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Chicago.
Van Hell, J. G., & Dijkstra, T. (2002). Foreign language knowledge can influence native language performance in exclusively native contexts. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 271278.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Tzou supplementary material

 PDF (212 KB)
212 KB


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed