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Cognitive load in processing ELF: translators, interpreters, and other multilinguals

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Ehrensberger-Dow Maureen, Albl-Mikasa Michaela, Andermatt Katrin, Hunziker Heeb Andrea, Lehr Caroline,
Project Cognitive Load in Interpreting and Translation (CLINT)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of English as a Lingua Franca
Volume (Issue) 9(2)
Page(s) 217 - 238
Title of proceedings Journal of English as a Lingua Franca
DOI 10.1515/jelf-2020-2039

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Many factors can affect the translation and interpreting process, but the quality of source texts has been explicitly identified as an issue in surveys of professional translators and interpreters as well as in recent workplace studies. If translators and interpreters encounter resistance in carrying out their tasks, for example by difficulties in extracting meaning from non-native English input, then flow can be interrupted and performance affected. In this paper, we explore how English as a lingua franca (ELF) input could potentially increase the cognitive load not only for translators and interpreters but also for other multilinguals. We describe the range of methods that can be used to measure the cognitive effort and stress associated with processing ELF input and explain the challenges that can be encountered when researchers are committed to using authentic ELF material to make comparisons under relatively controlled but ecologically valid conditions. One of the driving motivators for this type of research is to understand how interpreters and translators deploy their expertise to deal with ELF input in work settings in order to draw inferences about strategies for other segments of the population.