(Para)linguistic Correlates of Perceived Fluency in English-to-Chinese Simultaneous Interpretation

Chao Han


(Para)linguistic parameters (e.g., un/filled pauses, speech rate) are believed to underlie perceived fluency of simultaneous interpretation (SI). Little research, however, is available to ascertain whether and to what extent these (para)linguistic measures of SI fluency correlate with fluency ratings provided by human raters. This exploratory study investigates three questions: a) how nine selected (para)linguistic parameters correlate with each other, b) how the parameters correlate with rater-generated fluency ratings, and c) which parameter or a combination of parameters could best discriminate an interpreter into pre-determined groups of interpretation fluency. The major results are: a) three underlying dimensions of the perceived fluency emerged, including breakdown, speed, and repair fluency, b) speech rate, phonation/time ratio, and mean length of a run had higher correlation with the fluency ratings, and c) speech rate and phonation/time ratio were the best possible predictors of the interpreters’ group affiliation. Implications of the results are discussed regarding fluency assessment in SI.

Keywords: Correlation, Disfluency, Fluency, (Para)linguistic Parameters, Simultaneous Interpretation

Full Text:



Altman, J. (1994). Error analysis in the teaching of simultaneous interpretation: A pilot study. In S. Lambert & B. Moser-Mercer (Eds.), Bridging the Gap. Empirical Research in Simultaneous Interpretation. Philadelphia/Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 25-38.

Bakti, M. (2009). Speech disfluencies in simultaneous interpretation. [Online] Available http://www.kuleuven.be/cetra/papers/papers.html (March 6, 2014)

Bühler, H. (1986). Linguistic (semantic) and extra-linguistic (pragmatic) criteria for the evaluation of conference interpretation and interpreters. Multilingua, 5-4, 231-235.

Cecot, M. (2001). Pauses in simultaneous interpretation: A contrastive analysis of professional interpreters’ performances. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 11, 63-85.

Cheung, A. K-F. (2007). The effectiveness of summary training in consecutive interpreting (CI) delivery. Forum, 5 (2), 1-23

De Jong, N. & Hilstjin, J. (2009). Relating ratings of fluency to temporal and lexical aspects of speech. [Online] http://www.ealta.eu.org/conference/2009/docs/saturday/deJong_Hulstijn.pdf (December 15, 2013)

Han, C. (2014). Investigating score reliability in English/Chinese interpreter certification performance testing: A generalizability theory approach. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Han, C. & Riazi, M. (2015). A partial replication study to investigate the effects of speech rate and accent on simultaneous interpretation: A mixed-methods approach. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Hamidi, M. & Pöchhacker, F. (2007). Simultaneous consecutive interpreting: A new technique put to the test. Meta, 52 (2), 276-289.

Kurz, I. (1993). Conference interpretation: Expectations of different user groups. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 5, 13-21.

Lee, J. (2008). Rating scales for interpreting performance assessment. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, 2 (2), 165-184.

Liu, M. (2013). Design and analysis of Taiwan’s interpretation certification examination. In D. Tsagari & R. van Deemter (Eds.), Assessment issues in language translation and interpreting. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 163-178.

Mead, P. (2000). Control of pauses by trainee interpreters in their A and B languages. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 10, 89-102.

Mead, P. (2005). Methodological issues in the study of interpreters’ fluency. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 13, 39-63.

Pio, S. (2003). The relation between ST delivery rate and quality in simultaneous interpretation. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 12, 69-100.

Pradas Macías, M. (2006). Probing quality criteria in simultaneous interpreting: The role of silent pauses in fluency. Interpreting, 8 (1), 25-43.

Rennert, S. (2010). The impact of fluency on the subjective assessment of interpreting quality. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 15, 101-115.

Skehan, P. & Foster, P. (1999). The influence of task structure and processing conditions on narrative retelling. Language Learning, 49 (1), 93-120.

Tissi, B. (2000). Silent pauses and disfluencies in simultaneous interpretation: A descriptive analysis. The Interpreters’ Newsletter, 10, 103-127.

Yagi, S. M. (2000). Studying style in simultaneous interpretation. Meta, 45 (3), 520-547.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.