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Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study

Camille Collard (UGent) and Bart Defrancq (UGent)
(2017)
Author
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Abstract
Sex differences in memory tasks have been widely documented. Previous research has shown that women perform better than men in verbal and nonverbal memory tasks (Kimura and Seal, 2003, Loonstra et al., 2001). These differences are observed on subjects aged 5 to 85 (Kramer et al.,1997, Maitland, 2004). As memory plays a key role in simultaneous interpreting (Darò and Fabbro, 1994 inter alia), the question arises whether the differences are also observable in simultaneous interpreting. Drawing on data from consecutive interpreting, Mason (2008) suggests that the higher number of omissions in men’s interpretations is due to memory limitations. Defrancq (2013) observed a longer EVS in female interpreters than in male interpreters. The present study investigates potential sex differences in several indicators of working memory capacity in simultaneous interpreting: EVS length, midfield and afterfield length in German and Dutch subordinate clauses, rendition of numbers and lists of items and production of hesitations and disfluencies. Assuming interpreters make full use of their cognitive capacities (Gile’s tight-rope hypothesis, 1995), women are expected to have a longer EVS, to place fewer items in the afterfield, to render more numbers and items and to produce fewer hesitations than men. This study builds on Defrancq (2013), but is carried out with a significantly improved dataset, both in terms of accuracy and metadata. Results are drawn from an annotated and time-aligned sub-corpus of the European Parliament Interpreting Corpus Ghent and currently consists of 150 interpretations from and into English, French, Dutch and German. The first study on EVS confirms Defrancq’s (2013) findings: female interpreters on average have a longer EVS and the difference with male interpreters is statistically significant. The influence of possible distorting factors, such as language, delivery rate and interpreter’s fatigue is insignificant. Similar studies will be carried out to test the remaining hypotheses. References Darò, V. & Fabbro, F. (1994). Verbal memory during simultaneous interpretation: Effects of phonological interference. Applied Linguistics 15. Defrancq, B. (2013). “Women and men interpreting” Paper read at “Talking to the World” Conference, Newcastle, September 2013. Gile D. (1999), Testing the Efforts Models' tightrope hypothesis in simultaneous interpreting', Hermes 23. Kimura, D., and Seal, B. (2003). Sex differences in recall of real or nonsense words. Pychological Reports, 93, pp. 263-264. Kramer, J., Delis, D., & Daniel, M. (1988). Sex differences in verbal learning. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, pp. 907-915. Loonstra, A., A. Tarlow & A. Sellers (2001). COWAT metanorms across age, education and gender. Applied neuropsychology, 8(3), pp 161-166 Maitland, S.B., Herlitz A., Nynberg L., Nilsson L-G. (2004). Selective sex differences in declarative memory. Memory & Cognition, 2004, 32(7), pp. 1160-1169 Mason, M. (2008). Courtroom interpreting. Maryland: UPA
Keywords
Corpus, Interpreting, Sex differences

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Collard, Camille, and Bart Defrancq. 2017. “Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study.” In .
APA
Collard, Camille, & Defrancq, B. (2017). Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study. Presented at the Conférence Internationale permanente d’Instituts Universitaires de Traducteurs et Interprètes (CIUTI)'s Forum.
Vancouver
1.
Collard C, Defrancq B. Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study. 2017.
MLA
Collard, Camille, and Bart Defrancq. “Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study.” 2017. Print.
@inproceedings{8518872,
  abstract     = {Sex differences in memory tasks have been widely documented. Previous research has shown that women perform better than men in verbal and nonverbal memory tasks (Kimura and Seal, 2003, Loonstra et al., 2001). These differences are observed on subjects aged 5 to 85 (Kramer et al.,1997, Maitland, 2004). 
As memory plays a key role in simultaneous interpreting (Dar{\`o} and Fabbro, 1994 inter alia), the question arises whether the differences are also observable in simultaneous interpreting. Drawing on data from consecutive interpreting, Mason (2008) suggests that the higher number of omissions in men{\textquoteright}s interpretations is due to memory limitations. Defrancq (2013) observed a longer EVS in female interpreters than in male interpreters.  
The present study investigates potential sex differences in several indicators of working memory capacity in simultaneous interpreting: EVS length, midfield and afterfield length in German and Dutch subordinate clauses, rendition of numbers and lists of items and production of hesitations and disfluencies. Assuming interpreters make full use of their cognitive capacities (Gile{\textquoteright}s tight-rope hypothesis, 1995), women are expected to have a longer EVS, to place fewer items in the afterfield, to render more numbers and items and to produce fewer hesitations than men. This study builds on Defrancq (2013), but is carried out with a significantly improved dataset, both in terms of accuracy and metadata. Results are drawn from an annotated and time-aligned sub-corpus of the European Parliament Interpreting Corpus Ghent and currently consists of 150 interpretations from and into English, French, Dutch and German. 
The first study on EVS confirms Defrancq{\textquoteright}s (2013) findings: female interpreters on average have a longer EVS and the difference with male interpreters is statistically significant. The influence of possible distorting factors, such as language, delivery rate and interpreter{\textquoteright}s fatigue is insignificant. Similar studies will be carried out to test the remaining hypotheses. 

References
Dar{\`o}, V. \& Fabbro, F. (1994). Verbal memory during simultaneous interpretation: Effects of
phonological interference. Applied Linguistics 15.

Defrancq, B. (2013). {\textquotedblleft}Women and men interpreting{\textquotedblright} Paper read at {\textquotedblleft}Talking to the World{\textquotedblright} Conference, Newcastle, September 2013. 
Gile D. (1999), Testing the Efforts Models' tightrope hypothesis in simultaneous interpreting', Hermes 23.
Kimura, D., and Seal, B. (2003). Sex differences in recall of real or nonsense words. Pychological Reports, 93, pp. 263-264. 
Kramer, J., Delis, D., \& Daniel, M. (1988). Sex differences in verbal learning. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44, pp. 907-915. 
Loonstra, A., A. Tarlow \& A. Sellers (2001). COWAT metanorms across age, education and gender. Applied neuropsychology, 8(3), pp 161-166
Maitland, S.B., Herlitz A., Nynberg L., Nilsson L-G. (2004). Selective sex differences in declarative memory. Memory \& Cognition, 2004, 32(7), pp. 1160-1169 
Mason, M. (2008). Courtroom interpreting. Maryland: UPA
},
  author       = {Collard, Camille and Defrancq, Bart},
  keyword      = {Corpus,Interpreting,Sex differences},
  location     = {Geneva},
  title        = {Sex Differences in Simultaneous Interpreting: a Corpus-Based Study},
  year         = {2017},
}