Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 12601919
Project Title(English) : Assessing the scope of expertise-driven advantages in bilinguals: A comparison of interpreters and translators 
Project Title(Chinese) : 評估專門技能對雙語優勢的影響:口譯員與筆譯員之對比研究 
Principal Investigator(English) : Prof Liu, Min-hua  
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 劉敏華 
Department : Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies
Institution : Hong Kong Baptist University
Co - Investigator(s) :
Dr Fan, Damien
Dr Fong, Cheuk-Man
Dr García, Adolfo M.
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Humanities and Arts
Exercise Year : 2019 / 20
Fund Approved : 600,320
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-7-2023
Abstract as per original application
Accruing research in recent years has prompted the “bilingual advantage hypothesis”, positing that the need for language control during bilingual processing enhances executive functioning. This advantage is believed to transfer to non-linguistic activities, creating neurocognitive benefits across the lifespan (Bialystok, 2017). The cognitive functions under discussion include the ability to inhibit irrelevant information, flexibility in updating mental schemas, and efficiency in switching between tasks. However, inconsistent results from various approaches have questioned the existence of this phenomenon (Paap et al., 2018). Such mixed findings may reflect the wide-ranging bilingual experiences of the participants and the diverse contexts under which they perform language tasks. Against this background, a promising approach lies in comparing specific bilingual populations differing in the cognitive demands they face during daily language processing (Bialystok, 2017). In particular, simultaneous interpreting is performed under extreme time pressure, which exerts high demands on several executive and linguistic functions. Abundant research suggests that interpreters outperform non-interpreter bilinguals in tasks measuring executive functioning. This has motivated the “interpreter advantage hypothesis” (García, 2014), which involves three central questions: 1) do the stringent demands faced by interpreters during bilingual processing lead to significant cognitive enhancements?; 2) if yes, to what extent is such an advantage specific to simultaneous interpreting or general to other forms of expertise in inter-lingual reformulation (e.g., written translation)?; and 3) when does the advantage, if it exists, emerge during an interpreter’s training or experience? This project aims to answer these questions through a longitudinal study where student interpreters are compared with student translators and bilingual students without training in interpreting and translation. Performance data will be collected at three time points over a two-year training program. Professional interpreters and professional translators will also be tested as benchmarks against which to assess the students’ performance. Validated tests will be used to measure participants’ executive functioning, verbal working memory, semantic processing, and a working memory component that integrates information from different sources. A dual-task methodology will be adopted to test how much participants rely on different working memory components when processing verbal information. This study differs from past studies in that the participants are more closely compared regarding the specific context where their two languages are used and in its choice of non-verbal memory components as potential areas of interest. More generally, our unique approach to sampling and testing can shed novel light on the adaptive capacity of bilingual cognitive systems.
近年雙語研究提出「雙語優勢論」,主張處理雙語過程中的語言掌控對「執行功能」具有強化作用。研究顯示,這一優勢也會影響非語言活動,對神經認知產生終身效益(Bialystok, 2017)。各項研究涵蓋的認知功能,包括:抑制無關資訊的能力、更新心理基模的靈活度,以及轉換任務的效率。然而,由於研究結果各不相同,雙語優勢是否存在,仍受到質疑(Paap et al., 2018)。研究結果不一,可能歸因於研究參與者廣泛的雙語經歷,以及他們執行語言任務時的多樣情境。有鑑於此,比較不同雙語群體處理日常語言所需的認知能力,是值得嘗試的研究取向(Bialystok, 2017)。特別就同聲傳譯而言,該活動在時間極度緊張的情況下進行,對某些執行功能和語言功能帶來高度要求。大量研究顯示,在各種衡量執行功能的任務中,口譯員的表現比非口譯員雙語者更好。因此,García (2014)提出「口譯優勢論」,涵蓋三個核心問題:1)口譯員在處理雙語時面對的高度要求,是否對認知有重大強化作用?2)如果有,這種優勢多大程度反應同聲傳譯的經驗,或其實也廣泛體現在其他從事語言轉換的專職(例如:筆譯)?3)倘若優勢存在,在口譯訓練或口譯經歷中,該優勢會於何時出現?為了回答上述問題,本研究將透過長期追蹤,比較口譯學生、筆譯學生,和無口筆譯訓練的雙語者。研究資料將在為期兩年的訓練課程中,分三個時間點採集。專業口譯員和專業筆譯員也會參與測試,與學生表現做對比評估。本研究將採用驗證過的測驗來衡量參與者的執行功能、語言工作記憶,語義處理,和一個整合多源信息的工作記憶元素。另外,本研究將透過一種雙重任務的方法,測試參與者在處理語言訊息時對不同工作記憶元素的依賴程度。本研究和過往研究的不同有兩點:一是根據參與者使用雙語的具體情境來相互比較;二是選擇非語言記憶的元素作為潛在關照點。廣義上來講,本研究的取樣和測試方法獨特,可能就雙語認知系統的適應能力提出新的研究方向。
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