Understanding variability in interpreting quality assessment

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Variability is a common phenomenon in surveys of interpreting quality assessment. A review of these works shows pleasant voice being particularly affected by variability. Pleasant voice still remains ambiguous and notoriously hard to define as it shares perceptual features with other concurrent delivery features such as intonation and fluency. We decided to use a meta-analysis of users’ and interpreters’ quality preference to understand the reasons behind high variability in general and for pleasant voice in particular. The meta-analysis offers two relevant findings. On the one hand, the high variability for pleasant voice seems to be linked to the lack of conceptual congruence for pleasant voice as users’ mental representations for this parameter have shown to tap on prosodic characteristics such as fluency, intonation, and diction. On the other hand, a sex bias has been found when responses were analysed according to users’ sex. In line with findings in neurocognition that reveal that females perform better in verbal and nonverbal fluency, the female users and interpreters in our meta-analysis have attributed greater significance to pleasant female voice than male users. This meta-analysis also shows the perceptual interrelations that govern assessment of vocal features in interpreting which may be useful in refining the methodology of reception studies.


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