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Liaison Interpreting

Liaison interpreting has assumed an important position due to the globalization of the world’s economy and the consequent interaction among different cultures. This specific area of activity allows for managing focused and subtle communication with potential stakeholders, for example, in multicultural and high-contact environments.

It is, therefore, apparent that liaison interpreting cannot be underrated since in some situations where information is sensitive, accurate and efficient interpretation is crucial. Additionally, with the increasing integration between people from various cultures caused by globalization, the need for qualified professional workers in this field, especially those who are fluent, such as CPSL, is steadily rising.

What is liaison interpreting?

Bilateral or accompanying interpretation is one of the most used practices of oral translation under which the interpreter is appointed to help with the communication between two parties. This type of interpreting is unique because it is bi-directional and typically occurs sentence by sentence without the need for special equipment.

Unlike simultaneous interpreting, liaison interpreters translate after a speaker has finished speaking, allowing for a more straightforward exchange in settings such as small meetings or personal tours.

In environments like business negotiations or site visits, the interpreter often sits or stands close to the speaker, translating short statements to foster a dynamic and fluid dialogue. This setup is particularly beneficial in small group interactions or when accompanying individuals, where the interpreter can quickly adapt to the conversational flow without the need for notetaking.

Moreover, liaison interpreting is known to be one of the least formal modes of interpreting and is more often deployed in such situations as delegation visits and small business meetings. This makes the functions of an interpreter vital since their primary duty is to translate and communicate as the speakers would, both literally and figuratively.

This form of interpreting does not usually require intensive preparation but demands high proficiency in both languages involved to guarantee accurate and spontaneous communication.

How liaison interpreting works

Here are the steps involved in liaison interpreting:

  1. Listening: The interpreter listens attentively to the speaker, ensuring they grasp the complete message, including subtle details and nuances. This careful listening is crucial to accurately interpreting the intended message.
  2. Processing: Once the message is heard, the interpreter quickly processes it, considering aspects like grammar, idioms, and cultural context to rearrange the words mentally. This rapid processing is essential for accurate translation.
  3. Translating: The interpreter then proceeds to translate the message in the target language as close to the original meaning and common language usage as possible so that the translated text does not sound odd, as it may feel like rewritten text translated word by word.
  4. Providing feedback: If clarifications are needed, the interpreter facilitates this, ensuring all parties are on the same page. This might involve reiterating points or providing additional context to avoid misunderstandings.

In educational settings, such as a LI class, students practice these skills by interpreting short segments of dialogue between two tutors speaking different languages, assuming the role of the interpreter to bridge the communication gap.

This practice emphasizes aural comprehension, content processing, and message transmission, with minimal notetaking to mimic real-life interpreting scenarios. Corrections and feedback are typically provided after the exercise to maintain the flow of the session and enhance learning.

Applications of liaison interpreting

Liaison interpreting serves as an essential communication tool across various professional settings, ensuring clarity and mutual understanding in real-time interactions.

  1. Business Meetings: In corporate interpretative services, liaison interpreting is very useful during negotiations and discussions with partners from other countries where language is a barrier. It ensures that a quality dialogue is achieved and that all participants get an equal opportunity to express themselves satisfactorily.
  2. Medical Consultations: In healthcare organizations, liaison interpreting is extremely helpful, especially when conducting consultations between individuals who have no common language knowledge. Interpreters therefore help to facilitate communication through the exchange of accurate medical information, which is critical in treatment processes and patient handling.
  3. Legal Proceedings: Liaison interpreting plays a crucial role in the legal context, especially during trials or when interacting with other legal professionals. This makes it possible for every person involved to follow proceedings in a language understandable to all and contains all elements of the fair trial process: understanding the case, being able to ask relevant questions, and responding to queries.
  4. Diplomatic Talks: Another significant application of interpreting is in diplomatic relations, where there is a need to relay messages that are accurate and free from cultural nuances that would distort the meaning of the messages being conveyed. Whether in the course of working in formal bilateral sessions or as part of official state trips, the translators must make themselves ready for real-time translation as the complexities of diplomatic discourse call for such services.

Benefits of liaison interpreting

  1. Accuracy: Liaison interpreting greatly facilitates precise and accurate communication since both parties involved have a clear understanding of the other’s intent and message. This accuracy is especially helpful in situations where even minor details matter, such as in legal procedures or medical examinations. Due to cultural knowledge and language mastery, the interpreters can provide and sustain such a high level of clear translation.
  2. Trust and Confidence: Due to their ability to actively facilitate communication and provide relevant information during high-stakes interactions or contentious matters, a liaison interpreter can enhance trust among participants, including the negotiators involved in diplomatic or business-related engagements. They ensure all communications are clear and, hence, understandable by all the users, which is a decisive factor in the achievement of fair interactions.
  3. Economic Advantages: Incorporating liaison interpreting can lead to significant economic benefits. By facilitating clearer communication, it helps avoid costly misunderstandings and errors that could potentially arise from language barriers. This clarity can expedite agreements and negotiations, saving time and resources for all involved parties.
  4. Flexibility: Liaison interpreting offers unmatched flexibility, making it suitable for various settings and situations, from informal meetings to formal conferences. Interpreters can adapt quickly to the changing dynamics of a conversation, providing immediate and accurate translation without the need for cumbersome equipment or setups. This adaptability is particularly beneficial in dynamic and fast-paced environments.


The significance of liaison interpreting extends beyond the immediacy of bridging language gaps; it encapsulates a broader endeavor toward nurturing intercultural dialogue and cooperation. By acknowledging and supporting the pivotal role of liaison interpreters, we can continue to advance toward a more connected and comprehensively understood world, emphasizing the importance of clear and effective communication in forging lasting connections across the globe.

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