Verbal memory during simultaneous interpretation: Effects of phonological interference

Valeria Darò, Franco Fabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present experimental study, the role of working memory and long-term memory during simultaneous interpretation has been investigated in order to verify and explain reduced recall for verbal material after simultaneous interpretation. In a group of advanced student interpreters, recall of short stories after simultaneous interpretation from L1 into L2, and vice versa, was significantly worse than recall of similar short stories after listening. Moreover, memory span for digits presented in L1 and L2 in four different experimental conditions (listening, shadowing, listening with articulatory suppression, and simultaneous interpretation) was significantly poorer following simultaneous interpretation than in all the remaining conditions. In the articulatory suppression condition, the subjects recalled significantly fewer digits than in the listening condition. These results suggest that during simultaneous interpretation, where listening to a message in the source language and verbal production in the target language are concurrent, working memory is also disrupted by a mechanism of phonological interference. Finally, on the basis of these findings, a model describing the role of memory systems during simultaneous interpretation is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-381
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Communication


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