Prediction in challenging situations: Most bilinguals can predict upcoming semantically-related words in their L1 source language when interpreting
Prediction is an important part of language processing. An open question is to what extent people predict language in challenging circumstances. Here we tested the limits of prediction by asking bilingual Dutch native speakers to interpret Dutch sentences into their English counterparts. In two visual world experiments, we recorded participants’ eye movements to co-present visual objects while they engaged in interpreting tasks (consecutive and simultaneous interpreting). Most participants showed anticipatory eye movements to semantically-related upcoming target words in their L1 source language during both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. A quarter of participants during simultaneous interpretation however did not move their eyes, an extremely unusual participant behaviour in visual world studies. Overall, the findings suggest that most people predict in the source language under challenging interpreting situations. Further work is required to understand the causes of the absence of (anticipatory) eye movements during simultaneous interpretation in a substantial subset of individuals.
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