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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton June 13, 2016

Interpreting as a stressful activity: physiological measures of stress in simultaneous interpreting

Paweł Korpal


The question of interpreter aptitude has been widely discussed in Interpreting Studies (e.g. Lambert 1991; Moser-Mercer 1994; Mackintosh 1999). Language command and cognitive skills have often been treated by interpreter trainers as the main determinants of an interpreter’s future success. However, in recent years, more and more attention from interpreting scholars has been devoted to psycho-affective factors, such as motivation, anxiety or stress resistance (e.g. Timarová and Ungoed-Thomas 2008; Rosiers et al. 2011; Bontempo and Napier 2011). This paper presents the results of a pilot study, the main objective of which was to examine whether the speed of speaker’s delivery influences the level of stress experienced by interpreting trainees during a simultaneous interpreting task. To this end, heart rate and blood pressure data were collected. The participants were asked to interpret two speeches from English into Polish. The author hypothesised that while interpreting a faster speech the participants would experience a higher level of stress than when they interpreted a slower speech. The hypothesis was corroborated only for heart rate values. No statistically significant differences were observed for either systolic or diastolic blood pressure. The study offers valuable insight into the question of stress experienced by interpreting trainees.

Paweł Korpal Faculty of English Adam Mickiewicz University Collegium Novum al. Niepodległości 4 61-874 Poznań Poland

6 Acknowledgements

The study is part of the author’s PhD project entitled “Linguistic and psychological indicators of stress in simultaneous interpreting”. The author is grateful to Prof. Bogusława Whyatt and Dr. Agnieszka Chmiel who have supervised the work on the project and contributed greatly to its final shape. Also, the author would like to thank Katarzyna Stachowiak for her valuable help in collecting data and carrying out the experiment.


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Published Online: 2016-6-13
Published in Print: 2016-6-13

© 2016 Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland