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Technologies for Translation and Interpreting: Challenges and Latest Developments

Prof Stephen Doherty, University of New South Wales

Eye movements, cognitive load, and human-computer interaction with translation and interpreting technologies

2 December 2020

Technological advances have led to unprecedented changes to translation and interpreting (see Doherty, 2016), chiefly in how we access and use translation and interpreting technologies for a diverse and growing range of professional and personal activities. Previous empirical research on translation and interpreting technologies has yielded a wealth of evidence to advance our understanding and usage of these technologies in addition to making them more visible and accessible. Of particular value amongst this growing body of work is the use of eye tracking in exploring and understanding the psychological and cognitive aspects of translation and interpreting technologies by analysing our eye movements as we interact with these technologies and use their outputs.

In this paper, I will consolidate this work by presenting a critical review of empirical studies of translation and interpreting technologies which have employed eye tracking, including my own recent work in the Language Processing Lab at the University of New South Wales. I will categorise previous research into areas of application, namely: computer-assisted translation tools, quality assessment of machine translation, post-editing machine-translated output, audio-visual translation, and remote interpreting. In closing, I will discuss the strengths and limitations of eye tracking in such studies and outline current and future research.

Suggested background reading:

Doherty, S. (2016). The impact of translation technology on the process and product of translation. International Journal of Communication, 10, 947–969.

Speaker’s bio

I am Associate Professor in Linguistics, Interpreting, and Translation, and lead of the HAL Language Processing Research Lab at UNSW. With a focus on the psychology of language and technology, my research investigates human and machine language processing using natural language processing techniques and combinations of online and offline methods, mainly eye tracking and psychometrics. My research has been supported by the Australian Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters, New South Wales Ministry of Health, Enterprise Ireland, and a range of industry collaborations. As a Chief Investigator, I have a career total of $1.5 million competitive research grants. 

Prior to my appointment at UNSW Sydney (2014), my doctoral (2008–2012) and post-doctoral research positions (2012–2013) were funded by Science Foundation Ireland and supervised by Prof Sharon O’Brien, Prof Dorothy Kenny, and Prof Andy Way at the CNGL Centre for Global Intelligent Content in Dublin City University, a multi-million euro, cross-institutional centre now known as the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology. My subsequent post-doctoral position (2013–2014), supervised by Prof Josef Van Genabith, was based in the School of Computing and the National Centre for Language Technology at Dublin City University as part of the QTLaunchPad project, a €2.2 million project funded by the European Union through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research and technological development.