This is a short summary of a presentation given at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.
Joanna Ziobro (University of Rzeszowski, Poland) talked about feasibility of empirical research in simultaneous interpreting. She took her theoretical starting point in Gile’s Effort Models and his tight rope hypothesis. (Wonderful illustration of the Effort Model by the way with wine glasses, I would like to make them into communicating vessels though). She also added an additional effort which I liked the effort of suppressing thoughts that don’t have anything to do with interpreting (we’ll baptise it Ziobro’s effort?). I liked it as a professional since I have experienced exactly that. There are of course wonderful moments when you go into flow, but there are other painful moments like when you realise you forgot your child at the day care center or suchlike.
In her experiment she compares the performance of first and second year students and investigates local cognitive load through error analysis. Supposedly failure in the processing is due to local overload. She also let students report in retrospective interviews (with recording as prompt), where she could see that depending on personality some students reported a lot and others considerably less.
So far, she reports that novices (1st year students) omitted more, even whole segments, whereas semi professionals (2nd year students) aimed to render everything, but the novices interpretation included fewer errors, maybe more time to reflect on correct interpretation of the sentence.
Luckily she concluded that although there are methodological challenges in empirical research in simultaneous interpreting it is feasible.