The Different Impacts of Formal Versus Informal Acquisition of Another Language on Metalinguistic Awareness

Rene Trombley, Department of Psychology, Mount Royal University


Bilingual populations have demonstrated enhanced executive functioning skills compared to monolinguals (eg. Barbu et al., 2019; Barac & Bialystok, 2012). A sub component of executive functioning, metalinguistic awareness, does not show the same consistent bilingual advantage (Reder et al., 2013; Bialystok, 2001). Most of the studies that we have examined do not consider how language acquisition or learning approaches could be impacting abilities in that language. We believe that the mixed findings are due to different approaches to language acquisition resulting in a differential effect on metalinguistic awareness and the different sub components of metalinguistic awareness (morphologic, syntactic, and phonologic).

In the current study, we addressed this inconsistency by considering if a formal or informal approach to language learning played a role in the bilinguals’ metalinguistic awareness and if different types of metalinguistic abilities were affected differently. A total of 304 participants, between the ages of 17-43, completed the study online, with 136 monolinguals, 105 formal bilinguals, and 63 informal bilinguals. Participants completed a language survey, followed by seven tasks measuring morphologic, syntactic, and phonological awareness. Scores from these tasks were compared between our three groups using multiple Krukal-Wallis tests. Overall, assessing all components of metalinguistic awareness, there were mean rank differences between the groups, H(2)= 6.96, p= .031, n2H = .016. Specifically the monolingual group performed marginally better than both the formal (p=.026) and informal (p=.032) bilingual group using a bonferroni-adjusted alpha level of p=.017 for all pairwise comparisons. This was particularly apparent on the word order syntactic task, in which monolinguals performed better than the formal bilinguals, p= .005. Bilinguals who acquired a second language informally, performed similarly to the monolinguals, suggesting that the active use of a language in an informal setting provides better syntactic awareness. Therefore, although there may be no bilingual advantage in metalinguistic awareness in young adulthood, it does not provide a deficit, specifically for informal learners.

Impact of Mistranslations on Cognitive Retention: Case of Force Dynamics

Katarzyna Wisniewska, University of Eastern Finland


My poster is based on my pending publication (Wisniewska, 2022) and ongoing PhD research, part of a project aiming at constructing a systematic description of translation at sentence level, following the conceptual schematic systems elaborated by Talmy (2000/2001): the Configurational Structure System, the Attentional System, the Perspective System and the Force-Dynamics System. Previous results include evidence of the dissociation of linguistic and cognitive retention in translation for the Attentional System and the Force-Dynamics System. Based on these findings, the Cognitive Retention Hypothesis has been proposed: When describing translation from a source text to a target text, it is possible to distinguish linguistic and cognitive levels, and it is the cognitive level that is primarily retained in translation (Mäkisalo and Lehtinen; 2014, 2017, 2019).

In my research, I concentrate on the retention of Force Dynamics in translation and on the evidence found on dissociating linguistic and cognitive description in translation. The study follows the proposed hypothesis, and its objective is to explore how information is retained in translation at both linguistic and cognitive levels, arguing that the multilingual approach to the Force-Dynamics theorisation provides a broader perspective to describe aspects of language and cognition than most cognitive theories.  The stated issues are studied on small-scale, self-compiled corpora of phrases containing Force-Dynamics patterns from fragments of English, Finnish and Polish literary texts. Literary data allows to focus on translations theoretically undergoing very few changes, with a tendency to be faithful, yet creative and, at times, surprising in translation solutions. A modification in Force Dynamics during translation can be illustrated with the example: I can try to help you in English translated into Finnish as Antaisit minun yrittää auttaa (back-translated as You should let me try to help). It clearly shows that Force Dynamics in the source is modified in the target. There is a psychological force that appears as an activity between the two participants. Also, there is a change in force direction. The focus is shifted from the addresser (I can try [&]) to the addressee (You should let me [&]).

In my poster, I focus on mistranslations found in the compiled corpora and account for their impact on distorting the Force-Dynamics event scenarios found in the studied source texts. The analysis discusses the notion of cognitive economy, which is a way of processing information based on intuition and, thus, often leading to overlooking crucial details of the original (Hietaranta, 2017).

Problem Sources in Consecutive Interpreting

Yao Zhang, University of Copenhagen


Over the recent decades, interpreting has been playing an increasingly important role in many cross-cultural contexts, in which the quality of the interpreting performance becomes the key to the success of communication. In practice, many problems can degrade the quality of the interpreting performance. Extensive research has been conducted on quality assessment in interpreting (Kellett Bidoli, 2000; Kurz, 2001); however, few studies have taken the perspective of the problems that affect its quality. Drawing on the theoretical framework for speech production (Levelt, 1995), problem sources in language production (Dörnyei and Scott, 1997), and disfluency as a surface marker and representation of problems in language production (Bosker et al., 2012; Clark, 2006; de Jong, 2017), I explore the interpreters’ cognitive process to identify their problem sources in the second language production in the context of consecutive interpreting.

The data for this study include video recordings of interpreting performances from 25 Danish and 25 Chinese interpreters on two interpreting tasks with different levels of difficulty, as well as their stimulated self-reports on problem sources. The participants’ disfluencies in the recorded interpreting performances are marked on the performance transcripts, which serve as prompts for the participants’ self-reports of identification of problem sources. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis is applied to analyze the participants’ patterns of the problem sources and the difference of the patterns between 1) different levels of difficulty and 2) Danish and Chinese participants. In addition to identifying the problem sources in interpreting performances, I hope my study will inspire strategies for training and teaching in interpreting and provide a reference for interpreters’ qualification assessment.

This topic is part of my Ph.D. project, which is an interdisciplinary study that explores the patterns of disfluency and problem sources and their relationship with the quality of the interpreting performance.



Bosker, H. R., Pinget, A. F., Quene, H., Sanders, T., & de Jong, N. H. (2012). What makes speech sound fluent? The contributions of pauses, speed and repairs. Language Testing, 30, 159–175.

Clark, H. H. (2006). Pauses and hesitations: Psycholinguistic approach. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (Vol. V, pp. 284–288). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.

de Jong, N. H. (2017). Fluency in second language assessment. In Tsagari, D. & Banerjee, J. (Eds.), Handbook of Second Language Assessment. (pp. 203-218). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

Dörnyei, Z., & Scott, M. L. (1997). Communication strategies in a second language: Definitions and taxonomies. Language Learning, 47, 173-210.

Kellett Bidoli, C. J. (2000). Quality assessment in conference interpreting: an overview.

Kurz, I. (2001). Conference interpreting: Quality in the ears of the user. Meta: journal des traducteurs/Meta: Translators’ Journal46(2), 394-409.

Levelt, W. J. M. (1995). The ability to speak: From intentions to spoken words. European Review, 3, 13–23.