Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1384-6647
  • E-ISSN: 1569-982X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Fluency is an important, yet insufficiently understood, construct in interpreting studies. This article reports on an empirical study which explored the relationship between utterance fluency measures and raters’ perceived fluency ratings of English/Chinese consecutive interpreting. It also examined whether such relationship was consistent across interpreting directions and rater types. The results partially supported the categorization of utterance fluency into breakdown, speed and repair fluency. It was also found that mean length of unfilled pauses, phonation time ratio, mean length of run and speech rate had fairly strong correlations with perceived fluency ratings in both interpreting directions and across rater types. Among a number of competing regression models that were built to predict raters’ fluency ratings, a parsimonious model, using mean length of unfilled pauses and mean length of run as predictors, accounted for about 60% of the variance of fluency ratings in both directions and across rater types. These results are expected to help create, rewrite and modify rubrics and scalar descriptors of fluency scales in rater-mediated interpretation assessment and to inform automated scoring of fluency in interpreting.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ahrens, B.
    (2007) Pauses (and other prosodic features) in simultaneous interpreting. Forum5 (1), 1–18. 10.1075/forum.5.1.01ahr
    https://doi.org/10.1075/forum.5.1.01ahr [Google Scholar]
  2. Altman, J.
    (1994) Error analysis in the teaching of simultaneous interpretation: A pilot study. InS. Lambert & B. Moser-Mercer (Eds.), Bridging the gap: Empirical research in simultaneous interpretation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 25–38. 10.1075/btl.3.05alt
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.3.05alt [Google Scholar]
  3. Barik, H. C.
    (1975) Simultaneous interpretation: Temporal and quantitative data. Language and Speech16 (3), 237–270. 10.1177/002383097301600307
    https://doi.org/10.1177/002383097301600307 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bosker, H. R., Pinget, A-F., Quené, H., Sanders, T. & De Jong, N. H.
    (2012) What makes speech sound fluent? The contributions of pauses, speed and repair. Language Testing30 (2), 159–175. 10.1177/0265532212455394
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532212455394 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bosker, H. R., Quené, H., Sanders, T. & De Jong, N. H.
    (2014) The perception of fluency in native and nonnative speech. Language Learning64 (3), 579–614. 10.1111/lang.12067
    https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12067 [Google Scholar]
  6. Cecot, M.
    (2001) Pauses in simultaneous interpretation: A contrastive analysis of professional interpreters’ performances. The Interpreters’ Newsletter11, 63–85.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Chiaro, D. & Nocella, G.
    (2004) Interpreters’ perception of linguistic and non-linguistic factors affecting quality: A survey through the World Wide Web. Meta49 (2), 278–293. 10.7202/009351ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/009351ar [Google Scholar]
  8. Derwing, T. M., Munro, M. J., Thompson, R. I. & Rossiter, M. J.
    (2009) The relationship between L1 fluency and L2 fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition31 (4), 533–557. 10.1017/S0272263109990015
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263109990015 [Google Scholar]
  9. Fu, R-B.
    (2013) 口译方向性对译语非流利产出的影響 [Directional effects on disfluencies in consecutive interpreting]. Modern Foreign Languages36 (2), 198–205.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Fulcher, G.
    (1996) Does thick description lead to smart tests? A data-based approach to rating scale construction. Language Testing13 (2), 208–238. 10.1177/026553229601300205
    https://doi.org/10.1177/026553229601300205 [Google Scholar]
  11. Fulcher, G., Davidson, F. & Kemp, J.
    (2011) Effective rating scale development for speaking tests: Performance decision trees. Language Testing28 (1), 5–29. 10.1177/0265532209359514
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532209359514 [Google Scholar]
  12. Gerver, D.
    (1975) A psychological approach to simultaneous interpretation. Meta20 (2), 119–128. 10.7202/002885ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/002885ar [Google Scholar]
  13. Ginther, A., Dimova, S. & Yang, R.
    (2010) Conceptual and empirical relationships between temporal measures of fluency and oral English proficiency with implications for automated scoring. Language Testing27 (3), 379–399. 10.1177/0265532210364407
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532210364407 [Google Scholar]
  14. Goldman-Eisler, F.
    (1972) Segmentation of input in simultaneous translation. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research1 (2), 127–140. 10.1007/BF01068102
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01068102 [Google Scholar]
  15. Han, C.
    (2015) (Para)linguistic correlates of perceived fluency in English-to-Chinese simultaneous interpretation. International Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies3 (4), 32–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. (2017) Using analytic rating scales to assess English–Chinese bi-directional interpreting: A longitudinal Rasch analysis of scale utility and rater behaviour. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series: Themes in Translation Studies16, 196–215.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. (2018a) A longitudinal quantitative investigation into the concurrent validity of self and peer assessment applied to English-Chinese bi-directional interpretation in an undergraduate interpreting course. Studies in Educational Evaluation58, 187–196. 10.1016/j.stueduc.2018.01.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2018.01.001 [Google Scholar]
  18. (2018b) Latent trait modelling of rater accuracy in formative peer assessment of English-Chinese consecutive interpreting. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education43 (6), 979–994. 10.1080/02602938.2018.1424799
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2018.1424799 [Google Scholar]
  19. (2018c) Using rating scales to assess interpretation: Practices, problems and prospects. Interpreting20 (1), 59–95. 10.1075/intp.00003.han
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.00003.han [Google Scholar]
  20. (2019) A generalizability theory study of optimal measurement design for a summative assessment of English/Chinese consecutive interpreting. Language Testing36 (3), 419–438. 10.1177/0265532218809396
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532218809396 [Google Scholar]
  21. Interagency Language Roundtable
    Interagency Language Roundtable (2015) ILR skill level descriptions for interpretation performance. www.govtilr.org/Skills/interpretationSLDsapproved.htm (accessed1 July 2015).
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Jin, T. & Mak, B.
    (2012) Distinguishing features in scoring L2 Chinese speaking performance: How do they work?Language Testing30 (1), 23–47. 10.1177/0265532212442637
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532212442637 [Google Scholar]
  23. Kormos, J. & Dénes, M.
    (2004) Exploring measures and perceptions of fluency in the speech of second language learners. System32 (2), 145–164. 10.1016/j.system.2004.01.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2004.01.001 [Google Scholar]
  24. Lee, J.
    (2008) Rating scales for interpreting performance assessment. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer2 (2), 165–184. 10.1080/1750399X.2008.10798772
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1750399X.2008.10798772 [Google Scholar]
  25. Lee, S-B.
    (2015) Developing an analytic scale for assessing undergraduate students’ consecutive interpreting performances. Interpreting17 (2), 226–254. 10.1075/intp.17.2.04lee
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.17.2.04lee [Google Scholar]
  26. (2017) University students’ experience of ‘scale-referenced’ peer assessment for a consecutive interpreting examination. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education42 (7), 1015-1029. 10.1080/02602938.2016.1223269
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2016.1223269 [Google Scholar]
  27. Lennon, P.
    (1990) Investigating fluency in EFL: A quantitative approach. Language Learning40 (3), 387–417. 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1990.tb00669.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1990.tb00669.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Liu, M.
    (2013) Design and analysis of Taiwan’s interpretation certification examination. InD. Tsagari & R. van Deemter (Eds.), Assessment issues in language translation and interpreting. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 163–178.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Mead, P.
    (2000) Control of pauses by trainee interpreters in their A and B languages. The Interpreters’ Newsletter10, 89–102.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. (2005) Methodological issues in the study of interpreters’ fluency. The Interpreters’ Newsletter13, 39–63.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Piccaluga, M., Nespoulous, J-L. & Harmegnies, B.
    (2005) Disfluencies as a window on cognitive processing: An analysis of silent pauses in simultaneous interpreting. isca-speech.org/archive_open/archive_papers/diss_05/dis5_151.pdf (accessed10 May 2016).
  32. Pradas Macías, M.
    (2006) Probing quality criteria in simultaneous interpreting: The role of silent pauses in fluency. Interpreting8 (1), 25–43. 10.1075/intp.8.1.03pra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.8.1.03pra [Google Scholar]
  33. Préfontaine, Y., Kormos, J. & Johnson, D. E.
    (2015) How do utterance measures predict raters’ perceptions of fluency in French as a second language?Language Testing33 (1), 53–73. 10.1177/0265532215579530
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532215579530 [Google Scholar]
  34. Rossiter, M. J.
    (2009) Perceptions of L2 fluency by native and non-native speakers of English. The Canadian Modern Language Review65 (3), 395–412. 10.3138/cmlr.65.3.395
    https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.65.3.395 [Google Scholar]
  35. Segalowitz, N.
    (2010) Cognitive bases of second language fluency. New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203851357
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203851357 [Google Scholar]
  36. Skehan, P. & Foster, P.
    (1999) The influence of task structure and processing conditions on narrative retelling. Language Learning49 (1), 93–120.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Tabachnick, B. G. & Fidell, L. S.
    (2007) Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Tavakoli, P. & Skehan, P.
    (2005) Strategic planning, task structure and performance testing. InR. Ellis (Ed.), Planning and task performance in a second language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 239–273. 10.1075/lllt.11.15tav
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.11.15tav [Google Scholar]
  39. The Institute of Linguists Educational Trust
    The Institute of Linguists Educational Trust (2010) Diploma in public service interpreting: handbook for candidates. www.iol.org.uk/qualifications/DPSI/Handbook/DPSIHB11.pdf (accessed5 May 2016).
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Tissi, B.
    (2000) Silent pauses and disfluencies in simultaneous interpretation: A descriptive analysis. The Interpreters’ Newsletter10, 103–127.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Towell, R., Hawkins, R. & Bazergui, N.
    (1996) The development of fluency in advanced learners of French. Applied Linguistics17 (1), 84–119. 10.1093/applin/17.1.84
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/17.1.84 [Google Scholar]
  42. Wang, J., Napier, J., Goswell, D. & Carmichael, A.
    (2015) The design and application of rubrics to assess signed language interpreting performance. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer9 (1), 83–103. 10.1080/1750399X.2015.1009261
    https://doi.org/10.1080/1750399X.2015.1009261 [Google Scholar]
  43. Yang, L-Y.
    (2015) 中国口译学习者汉英交替传译流利度的探索性研究 [An exploratory study of fluency in English output of Chinese consecutive interpreting learners]. Journal of Zhejiang International Studies University (1), 60–68.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Yu, W-T. & van Heuven, V. J.
    (2017) Predicting judged fluency of consecutive interpreting from acoustic measures: Potential for automatic assessment and pedagogic implications. Interpreting19 (1), 47–68. 10.1075/intp.19.1.03yu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.19.1.03yu [Google Scholar]
  45. Zwischenberger, C. & Pöchhacker, F.
    (2010) Survey on quality and role: Conference interpreters’ expectations and self-perceptions. Communicate!www.aiic.net/ViewPage.cfm/article2510.htm (accessed20 May 2016).
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error