Planning ahead: Interpreters predict source language in consecutive interpreting

Nan Zhao, Xiaocong Chen, Zhenguang G. Cai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Interpreters are hypothesized to anticipate the source language (SL) in comprehension and the target language (TL) in production to facilitate timely delivery. In two experiments, we examined whether interpreters make more predictions in SL comprehension in consecutive interpreting than in regular language comprehension and whether such enhanced prediction (if any) is constrained by cognitive resources. Participants were quicker at reading a predictable versus unpredictable critical word and/or following words (e.g., Without the sunglasses/hat, the sun will hurt your eyes on the beach, where eyes is the critical word), and the prediction effect was larger when they read to later interpret (into Chinese) than to later recall. The enhanced prediction in reading to interpret disappeared when the cognitive load was high, suggesting that SL prediction in interpreting requires cognitive resources. Our findings suggest that, when cognitive resources allow, interpreters engage in enhanced linguistic prediction in SL comprehension to facilitate the delivery of interpreting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-602
Number of pages15
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Issue number4
Early online date28 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese
  • Comprehension
  • Interpreting
  • Lexico-semantics
  • Prediction
  • Source language


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