LINGUIST List 25.4902

Thu Dec 04 2014

Review: Psycholing; Translation: Grucza, Pluzyczka, Zajac (eds.) (2013)

Editor for this issue: Sara Couture <>

Date: 26-Apr-2014
From: Iya Price <>
Subject: Translation Studies and Eye-Tracking Analysis
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Sambor Grucza
EDITOR: Monika Pluzyczka
EDITOR: Justyna Zajac
TITLE: Translation Studies and Eye-Tracking Analysis
SERIES TITLE: Warschauer Studien zur Germanistik und zur Angewandten Linguistik
YEAR: 2013

REVIEWER: Iya Khelm Price, University of Texas at Arlington

Review's Editor: Helen Aristar-Dry


The book is a collection of ten papers that report how eye-tracking
methodology is used in translation studies, specifically at the University of
Warsaw. This book will be mainly of interest to linguists looking into
translation processes and using eye-tracking methodology, or to software
developers who are interested in creating gaze-assisted interactional
software. Translators might also find it useful, so they can better understand
the processes that they engage in during translation flow and what factors
might influence their effectiveness.

The papers in this volume touch on the importance, different aspects, and
techniques of translation research in general. They also address the
advantages of using eye-tracking methodology for studying translation, and
discuss some of its technical aspects. Finally, they provide results of
experiments that investigate translation-related issues. The first paper is an
overview of the book and serves in place of an introduction. The next five
papers are theoretical in nature, while the last four report on empirical data
from eye-tracking experiments. The experimental papers analyze eye-movements
based on Polish, Russian, and English, as well as eye-movements related to
subtitling and audio descriptions for people with disabilities (deafness or
blindness). Translator workflow, translator expertise, different modes of
translation and text-type related phenomena are examined. The majority of the
papers were provided by researchers affiliated with the University of Warsaw
and their Eye-tracking Experimental Linguistics Laboratory, but some
contributions were made by researchers from other universities in Poland and

The first paper, “Eye-tracking Supported Translation Studies at the University
of Warsaw (Instead of Introduction)” by Sambor Grucza, Monika Pluzyczka, and
Justyna Zajac serves as a roadmap for the book and gives a brief overview of
each study included.

In Sambor Grucza’s paper “Heat Maps, Gaze Plots...and What Next? The Access to
Translation Competences and Translation Processes”, the author gives a general
overview of translation competences and processes. The paper elaborates on
translation studies and text analysis in particular as one of the ways to
examine translation competence. Finally, the paper underlines the
effectiveness of eye-tracking as a method that makes it possible to
reconstruct the translation process and focus on the translator’s cognitive

Jerzy Zmudzki’s paper “Problems, Objectives, and Challenges of the Polish
Translation Studies and Theory” is an overview of the translation-related
issues that exist in Poland: translation theory development in Poland, and the
role of different universities, organizations, conferences, and publications.
This paper is geared towards an audience who is familiar with or interested in
the Polish-related translation issues.

Marta Malachowicz’s paper “Knowledge --Transference -- Translation” presents
the idea that when the translation process is described, ‘knowledge’,
‘transference’ and ‘translation’ have different meanings from when they are
commonly used. In short, knowledge is not something that is contained in a
text, but is a property contained in the human brain. The translator has to
have the knowledge represented by the original text to be able to do the
proper translation or ‘transference’ of this knowledge into a different
language. This is particularly important for specialist texts that require not
just knowledge of terminology, but also knowledge of the field to be able to
understand the text according to the intentions of the ‘sender’.

Ewa Zwierzchon-Grabowska’s paper “Could Eye-tacking Help to Reconstruct the
Translation Processes?” discusses different types of translation
(interlingual, sight/written, audiovisual, audio descriptions, and
subtitling), and how each of these types can be examined using eye-tracking
methodology. The paper talks about the intermediate receiver and sender (the
translator), whose processing of the text and translation strategies were not
possible to properly examine by just looking at the product of translation or
the receiver’s reaction. Eye-tracking allows investigation of the key
participant in the translation process and not just its product.

The article “Eye-tracking Method and Measures” by Pawel Soluch and Adam
Tarnowski describes the human visual system, showing how eye-movements are
connected to cognitive processes, providing technical details specific to the
types of eye-movements, and showing how eye-tracking performs the
measurements. This paper is an overview of eye-tracking research and brings up
issues related to human eye-movements during reading in particular that need
to be considered before designing a study.

Monika Pluzyczka’s paper “Eye-Tracking Supported Research into Sight
Translation. Lapsological Conclusions” is the first paper of the second part
of the book that includes primary research articles. This paper describes a
study that compared a professional translator’s eye-movement patterns to the
eye-movements of sixteen students who translated the same text. The gaze plots
and heat maps are presented in the paper. Differences between the professional
translator’s eye-movements and the eye-movements of less experienced
translators are taken to indicate cognitive processing characteristics. Even
though the comparison of a group of sixteen participants with just one person
might not be the best methodological choice for making generalizations, the
paper mainly seeks to show the potential of eye-tracking research to shed
light on the cognitive processes involved in translation.

The paper “Proactive Use of Eye-Tracking in the Translational Workflow” by
Silvia Hansen-Schirra and Christoph Rosener examines eye-movements of the
translator during the traditional computer-assisted translational workflow and
proposes that eye-tracking before, during and after translation could improve
the translator’s use of software through use of ‘gaze-assisted interaction’.
To make the translation flow more efficient, the software used should be
sensitive to the length and types of the translator’s eye-movements and should
respond to the translator.

In the paper by Agnieszka Szarkowska, Izabela Krejtz, Krzysztof Krejtz, and
Andrew Duchowski “Harnessing the Potential of Eye-Tracking for Media
Accessibility”, the authors present the results of four eye-tracking studies
on subtitling for the deaf as well as on audio descriptions for blind and
sighted people. The eye-movement examinations indicate how people watch
subtitles and how they perceive audio descriptions. It is suggested that the
results may be used in audiovisual translation.

The last paper, “Eye-Tracking Research of Business Email Reception” by Justyna
Zajac discusses the application of eye-tracking in examining reactions of
business e-mail recipients. It shows particular places in the e-mail where the
recipients focus their attention the most during reading. These eye-tracking
results are compared with the qualitative analysis of business e-mail
discourse. This paper talks about business practices in general and how
e-mails are part of the business procedures, focusing on an international
company that uses English as a lingua franca.


For the most part, the papers included in this book are related to some aspect
of eye-tracking methodology and its use for studying translation. One of the
book’s potential shortcomings is that the majority of the papers are based on
research done by one group and in the same lab; thus there is a risk of
presenting the issues in an unbalanced way.

All in all, some interesting ideas concerning eye-tracking research in
translation studies are put forward in this collection, in particular, the
book does not only shed light into how the translator’s mind works, but also
shows how the knowledge about the translator’s cognitive processes can be
applied to improving the translator’s practice (for example, through computer
‘gaze-assisted interaction’ software).The book would be helpful for
researchers in translation or in psycholinguistics studying cognitive
processes associated with translation. It could also be useful for translators
themselves as they will be able to recognize some of the processes that
characterize their workflow (e.g. text creation, repetitiveness of the
during-translation tasks, post-translational editing, issues with transference
of knowledge into another language, etc.) and see what could make translation
more effective. Also, the range of the experiments described is diverse and
covers a variety of topics, such as investigating cognitive processes of
experienced versus not experienced translators, analyzing how the type of text
influences the readers’ strategy, how tracking eye-movements can help improve
computer-assisted translational workflow, as well as how audiovisual
translation is perceived. The book offers a way to use eye-tracking to give
clearer insight into cognitive processes during text processing. It shows that
these processes depend on the text type, as well as translator’s task,
knowledge, and experience.

The choice of the papers included in the book creates an impression that the
book format is to some extent determined by the collection of papers that the
editors had available at the moment. The different subjects that the book
deals with are not equally represented. There are six papers which discuss
issues related to eye-tracking methodology and translation, and only four
papers showing primary research results of eye-tracking -- one of which (the
last one), even though related to eye-tracking, seems to have little to do
with translation, but rather deals with text analysis, so it seems somewhat
out of place.

As for structural properties of the book, it is well-organized for the most
part. The first half provides all necessary information about problems,
translation processes, and eye-tracking methodology before going into the
second half containing experimental data. All the experimental studies are
different from each other, so it seems logical to include them all; they look
at translation or eye-tracking from different angles and do not repeat each
other or overlap. The experimental papers include easy-to-read pictures and
graphs. It could be good to include a few more studies in the second half of
the book, as four papers did not seem to show the full potential of
eye-tracking research for studying translation, and could have left the reader
with unanswered questions. Even though most of the papers are well-sectioned,
some of the papers in the book are presented either in one single piece of
text lacking structural clarity, or have sections that only have numbers but
no headings or use other non-traditional ways to structure a paper. Another
drawback is that some papers provide detailed theoretical motivation for the
type of research done, while in other papers the motivation is unclear.
Furthermore, most of the experimental papers in this book use a small number
of subjects; and some do not use statistical analysis to compare the
quantitative results. However, this field of research is still new, and the
primary goals of the book may well be to emphasize the importance of
developing the field of eye-tracking in translation studies and to encourage
the future researchers to use it, particularly in Poland. These goals have
been achieved despite the shortcomings.


I am a PhD student in Linguistics at University of Texas at Arlington, USA. My
research interests are syntax and psycholinguistics, in particular sentence
processing. My dissertation research is focused on processing of relative
clause constructions in Russian. In my experimental research I mainly use
eye-tracking methodology.

Page Updated: 04-Dec-2014