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The Impact of Non-Native Accented English on Rendition Accuracy in Simultaneous Interpreting

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The International Journal for
Translation & Interpreting


The impact of non-native accented English
on rendition accuracy in simultaneous
I-hsin Iris Lin
Ecole Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs
National Changhua University of Education

Feng-lan Ann Chang
National Changhua University of Education

Feng-lan Kuo
National Changhua University of Education

DOI: ti.105202.2013.a03
Abstract: Accent is known to cause comprehension difficulty, but empirical
interpreting studies on its specific impact have been sporadic. According to Mazzetti
(1999), an accent is composed of deviated phonemics and prosody, both discussed
extensively in the TESL discipline. The current study seeks to examine, in the
interpreting setting, the applicability of Anderson-Hsieh, Johnson and Koehler’s
(1992) finding that deviated prosody hinders comprehension more than problematic
phonemics and syllable structure do. Thirty-seven graduate-level interpreting majors,
assigned randomly to four groups, rendered four versions of a text read by the same
speaker and then filled out a questionnaire while playing back their own renditions.
Renditions were later rated for accuracy by two freelance interpreters, whereas the
questionnaires analysed qualitatively. Results of analyses indicated that 1) both
phonemics and prosody deteriorated comprehension, but prosody had a greater
impact; 2) deviated North American English post-vowel /r/, intonation and rhythm
were comprehension problem triggers. The finding may be of use to interpreting
trainers, trainees and professionals by contributing to their knowledge of accent.
Keywords: accent; non-native English; listening comprehension; simultaneous
interpreting; phonemics; segmentals; prosody; suprasegmentals

1. Introduction
English is undoubtedly the most popular lingua franca of our times:...


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