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Effects of Time Pressure on Translation: A Psycho-physiological, Behavioural-cognitive and Performance-based Study

WENG, YU (2021) Effects of Time Pressure on Translation: A Psycho-physiological, Behavioural-cognitive and Performance-based Study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 24 March 2025.


This empirical study provides a systematic investigation into how time pressure influences the translation process and product from psycho-physiological, behavioural-cognitive and performance-based perspectives. Taking a multi-methodological approach, this investigation is based on the analysis of data obtained from a total of 65 participants, who are grouped as novice and experienced translators, in an experiment containing three translation tasks with different time constraints. The project examines, firstly, the psychological and physiological consequences of time pressure indexed by self-reported Stress, Temporal Demand and State Anxiety, and several biomarkers recorded during and after the tasks. Reliable psycho-physiological indicators of time pressure in translation activities are identified by these analyses.
Secondly, combining the keystroke logging and eye tracking metrics, it explores how time pressure affects translators’ observable behaviours from the aspects of automaticity and cognitive rhythm. Time pressure is found to have affected automaticity mainly at the micro-level while translators’ experience makes a difference in affecting automaticity at the macro-level. Furthermore, the two groups of translators exhibit different processing patterns in terms of cognitive rhythm, especially in the moderately-time-pressured condition and the free-of-time-pressure condition. Thirdly, it looks into the direct effect of time pressure on translation quality, which generally features a negative relation despite slight traces of Yerkes-Dodson Law which are shown in the case of novice translators.
Lastly, based on Cognitive Load Theory, possible mechanisms that may underpin the identified relation between time pressure and translation quality are scrutinised, concerning the interplay of cognitive load (especially germane load), time pressure and translation quality. The result shows that time pressure could modulate the effect of germane load on novice translators’ performance, with an essentially undermined effectiveness of germane load captured in the free-of-time-pressure condition. Such an effect is not visible in the case of experienced translators. These findings could provide pragmatic implications for translation practice and pedagogy.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:time pressure, psycho-physiological responses, automaticity, cognitive rhythm, cognitive load, translation quality
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Mar 2022 11:53

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