Center Papers

Nicodemus & Emmorey (2013)

Nicodemus, B., & Emmorey, K. (2013). Direction asymmetries in spoken and signed language interpreting. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16(3), 624-636. doi:10.1017/S13667289I2000521 ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Spoken language (unimodal) interpreters often prefer to interpret from their non-dominant language (L2) into their native language (L1). Anecdotally, signed language (bimodal) interpreters express the opposite bias, preferring to interpret from L1 (spoken language) into L2 (signed language). We conducted a large survey study (N = 1,359) of both unimodal and bimodal interpreters that confirmed these preferences. The L1 to L2 direction preference was stronger for novice than expert bimodal interpreters, while novice and expert unimodal interpreters did not differ from each other. The results indicated that the different direction preferences for bimodal and unimodal interpreters cannot be explained by language production–comprehension asymmetries or by work or training experiences. We suggest that modality and language-specific features of signed languages drive the directionality preferences of bimodal interpreters. Specifically, we propose that fingerspelling, transcoding (literal word-for-word translation), self-monitoring, and consumers’ linguistic variation influence the preference of bimodal interpreters for working into their L2.

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