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Measuring Interpreters’ Memory — An Empirical Research on Interpreting Competence —

Hyeyeon Chung 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the special features of the memory system of professional interpreters on the base of psychological and neurological findings and attempts to measure those features experimentally. Previous studies on the memory of interpreters have been based on the presumption that interpreters have greater memory capacity than non-interpreters. The results of those studies did not, however, always confirm that presumption (Padilla 1995, Chincotta & Underwood 1998, Liu et.al. 2004, Köpke et.al. 2006, Nordet & Voegtlin 1998). In this paper, we modified the premise of the previous studies and designed our experiment in the following way. (1) Not only Capacity, but also construction and retrieval of memory are measured. Both process and product of memory usage are thereby important to define the interpreters' expertise in memory more accurately (speed and accuracy of memory construction and retrieval, i.e. effectiveness of memory usage). (2) The semantic memory ('sense' memory) as well as phonological memory of interpreters were tested under the premise that the excellence of the interpreters' memory lies in the constructing sense, not memorizing of lists of words. In this experiment 51 subjects (29 undergraduate students, 14 students of graduate school of interpretation, 8 professional interpreters) were tested in their capacity, construction and retrieval of memory. In memory capacity, professionals scored lower than the control groups in phonological memory test, but higher in the semantic test. Professionals also yielded better results in the accuracy of semantic memory retrieval than the control groups. Both results were statistically significant.

Citation status

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