This paper argues for the addition of a cognitive perspective to the concepts of fluency/resistancy and domestication/foreignisation. Given the disjunctions between the ontological levels (and analytical levels of specificity) implied in these concepts (cognitive, linguistic and socio-cultural), the paper first sets out an argument for how these ontologies are related, demonstrating how cognitive processing, and specifically cognitive effort for both translators and readers, form a second-level constituent of both these sets of concepts, by drawing on usage-based theories of language. From within this conceptual frame, the paper turns its attention to an empirical investigation. The study demonstrates how a combination of product and process methods may be utilised to explore the cognitive effort involved in domesticating and foreignising choices. The findings of the study are used to formulate some suggestions regarding how investigations of cognitive effort in translation may contribute to an understanding of fluency/resistancy and domestication/foreignisation in diverse contexts.