Liaison interpreting – the classic type of interpreting.
Liaison interpreting, also known as discussion interpreting, is considered a form of consecutive interpreting. It can be used at a wide variety of meetings and events where at least two participants with different target languages want to interact with each other. Liaison interpreters interpret what is said in one language as well as what is said in the other, so this is also referred to as bilateral interpreting.
What exactly does a liaison interpreter do?
Liaison interpreters translate in both directions, for example, from German into English and from English into German. This takes place with a time delay: the interpreter interprets smaller sections of the conversation into the target language before the actual speaker continues with his or her statement. The short units enable the interpreter to retain and transfer the exact content of what is said into the target language. The flow of the conversation is thus interrupted, which increases its duration. The advantage of this form of interpreting is that the parties can concentrate fully on the interaction and conversation with their counterpart and then get all the information translated in detail in the subsequent interpreting phase.
Usually, the interpreter is on site. Unlike with whispered interpreting, however, he or she does not have to be in the same room as the person speaking. If required, remote interpreting is also possible with this interpreting technique; for example, during a telephone conversation or a video conference. In this case, the interpreter is simply connected and interprets what is said from a distance.
Interpreting technique in liaison interpreting
As a special form of consecutive interpreting, liaison interpreters work without technical support, which is possible, for example, through simultaneous interpreting with special equipment. Instead, the interpreters use the so-called note-taking technique for liaison interpreting, making written notes of what is said. This is neither a transcript nor shorthand. During their training, the interpreters learn the note-taking technique, which makes it possible for them to accurately record the content of what is said, even by fast speakers, by means of pictorial notes, symbols and other forms of writing without changing the content.
The primary purpose of the technique is to record the meaning of the statement and words in order to support the memory of what was said in the subsequent interpreting phase. In practice, each professional develops his or her own form of note-taking over the years, similar to personal handwriting.
When and where does liaison interpreting apply?
As the name liaison interpreting already suggests, it is mainly used for negotiations and discussions of various kinds where representatives with different language skills meet and interact directly with each other. Typical fields of application are events of international associations and organisations, as well as conferences, symposia or economic events such as presentations, company mergers and board meetings.
In addition, liaison interpreting is also used in legal contexts, such as court hearings, police questioning of witnesses or suspects, or notary appointments, as well as in health care and social services.
Specialist area: intercultural interpreting
When people with different language skills meet, a clash of different cultures is always possible. Liaison interpreters can then resort to intercultural interpreting to ensure that communication is flawless. In this culturally sensitive form of interpreting, not only are linguistic obstacles or misunderstandings removed, but cultural differences are also taken into account when transferring the statement from one target language to the other in order to preserve its meaning or make the content comprehensible. This form of interpreting is also known as community interpreting. This term indicates the aim of this technique to achieve seamless understanding that transcends both cultural and linguistic boundaries and enables smooth inclusion due to better comprehension by all parties.
Intercultural interpreting can be used both in contacts with individuals from other countries and in discussions with groups who are not familiar with the official languages when interacting with Swiss authorities. Typical areas of use for intercultural interpreting are public authorities, social welfare offices or educational institutions.
Liaison interpreting in the health sector
A special form of liaison interpreting is hospital interpreting, which may be required for visits to the doctor, stays in hospital or medical assessments. Here, in addition to their language skills, the interpreters must also have basic medical knowledge and be able to translate complex medical issues clearly and precisely into the target language. Thanks to this training, the risk of misinformation is significantly lower than if relatives who are not appropriately trained do the translation.
The fact that the interpreters take a neutral position also makes possible misunderstandings due to incorrectly passed on information unlikely and eliminates the danger of potential paternalism of the patient by interpreting relatives.
Languages for liaison interpreting
Thanks to our long-standing presence on the Swiss interpreting market, we have a large network of qualified interpreters with several years of experience in the field of liaison interpreting.
Besides the most common target languages
we also offer our interpreting services in migration and other European and non-European languages.