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Liaison Interpreting


What can I do if I have a business meeting with a foreign company, but I don’t speak their language?

The answer is simple: what you need is a liaison interpreter.

What is liaison interpreting?

Liaison interpretingIn liaison interpreting, an interpreter simultaneously translates to and from the languages being spoken in the conversation, making it possible for the participants in the conversation who speak different languages to communicate.

For example, if a Spanish company wants to hold a meeting with a German company to negotiate a potential merger, the Spanish company can hire a liaison interpreter to translate everything that is said at the meeting into both Spanish and German so that both parties can understand each other.

Liaison interpreting is also known as bilateral interpretation or accompanying interpretation, because it is bi-directional—usually sentence by sentence—and the interpreter “accompanies” a person or several people or small groups who don’t speak the same language.

How does liaison interpreting work?

Liaison InterpretingLiaison interpreting or bilateral interpretation is different from simultaneous interpretation in that the interpreter doesn’t have to talk and listen at the same time. Instead, they translate when the speaker  pauses, translating after the message after the speaker stops instead of at the same time. This means the interpreters are in the same room as the speakers, and they don’t need any special equipment for the interpretation. They can take notes, but it’s usually not necessary.

Speakers contribute to the conversation in short statements. When one pauses, the interpreter translates the message into another language for the other people at the meeting. Then another participant speaks, and the interpreter translates again. A dialogue between a group of people is created, which the liaison interpreter translates by alternating between two languages. Communication is fluid and dynamic, which distinguishes liaison interpreting or bilateral interpretation from another type of interpretation called consecutive interpreting.

Liaison interpreting is generally used in short-duration business meetings, negotiations or interviews with a small number of people, where the contributions from all sides aren’t particularly long, so the interpreter doesn’t need to take breaks to rest.

As with any mode of interpretation, the liaison interpreter must have as much information as possible to prepare for the interpretation.

When might I need liaison interpreting?

Liaison interpreting or bilateral interpretation is the most popular mode of interpretation in the private sector, a very valuable tool for any company that wants to contact a foreign entity because it takes away the issue of language barriers. Furthermore, the swift and flexible dialogue made possible by this type of interpretation is useful not only in business meetings and negotiations, but also in many other contexts.

For example, liaison interpreters are needed for foreign nationals at trials and meetings with barristers and solicitors, or at medical and specialist consultations, where doctors and their patients from abroad can properly understand each other with the help of a liaison interpreter. Liaison interpreting enables direct, flexible doctor-patient communication across different languages.

Liaison interpreting is also the most common type of interpretation for accompanying individuals. Examples include private companies welcoming important visitors like partners or clients who speak a different language and are interested in establishing a relationship and when travelling, using the service for help navigating airports and hotels. This is why it is also called accompanying interpretation.

Liaison interpreting is also the most used type of interpreting for official visits, bilateral meetings between politicians, and diplomatic talks, since these situations require flexibility and, at times, spontaneity.

The liaison interpreter is a key element in all the situations mentioned above, and they must have an empathetic and people-oriented approach. Furthermore, the interpreter is committed to keeping the strictest confidentiality and to being completely impartial in their interpretations. This is one of the fundamental characteristics that every interpreter must have to do their job with the utmost professionalism.

Why choose Acantho as your liaison interpreter?

Acantho InterpretingAll our interpreters are university graduates with degrees in engineering, law, business, medicine, journalism, languages and literature etc., as well as postgraduate degrees in translation, terminology and/or localisation and interpretation, which means they are specialised interpreters with years of experience in the particular fields in which they work. If you need a liaison interpreter for a business meeting, a sightseeing tour with people from abroad, a product launch for an international audience or any other type of meeting with people who speak a different language, you’ll find the most qualified and professional interpreters at Acantho.

Not sure what type of interpretation you need, or don’t know which interpreting service is right for you? Please call us on (+34) 976 910 302, or send an email to, and we will be more than happy to assist you.