Looking at Bilingualism through the lens of Translation

Translation in all its forms, including that of written, spoken, and signed languages, is intrinsically linked to the bilingual condition. Anyone who translates must have at least some bilingual proficiency and anyone with at least some bilingual proficiency will translate, albeit not professionally. It is not surprising, therefore, that several experimental paradigms developed to further our understanding of bi- or multilingualism are based on translation tasks. As a matter of fact, a not inconsequential body of research into bilingualism is based on experiments carried out on translators and interpreters, an arguably unique cohort of bilinguals. 

But what underlying processes enable bilinguals to perform what has been referred to as the most complex language task of which the human mind is capable? And what factors condition these processes? Also, is there an interpreter advantage over untrained bilinguals much like there seems to be a bilingual advantage over monolinguals?

In my presentation I will address these questions in an attempt at highlighting how the complex task of oral language translation can afford us a window into the bilingual mind.

Associate Professor Kilian Seeber

Kilian G. Seeber is Associate Professor and Vice Dean at the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting of the University of Geneva in Switzerland, where he is also the the Program Director of the Masters of Advanced Studies in Interpreter Training. Kilian is Principal Investigator at LaborInt, a laboratory dedicated to cognitive research into multilingualism and interpreting, as well as InTTech, a research laboratory dedicated to re-purposing existing and developing new technologies for interpreter training and practice. His main research interests include cognitive load and integration during multilingual and multimodal language processing. Kilian is a practicing conference interpreter and a member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters.