Liaison interpreting is used to facilitate understanding between two parties that speak different languages, which could be two people, an individual and a small group, or two small groups. Therefore, the interpreter must possess a sound command of both languages that he or she works with. While some authors see liaison interpreting as a type of consecutive interpreting, both types have their distinguishing characteristics. The two most significant aspects of liaison interpreting, in this regard, are that it does not tend to require note‑taking and that it is performed in a two-way manner.
We should emphasize that there are many different opinions on the name of this mode. Bilateral interpreting and liaison interpreting are a few of the names that some experts have given this type of interpreting. On this site we have decided not to include “bilateral interpreting,” despite the fact that it is a widespread name, because this mode does not take place exclusively between two parties or speakers, as mentioned earlier.
Depending on the context of liaison interpreting, interpreters are usually able to rely on the assistance of documentary material that corresponds to the environment in which they are working, since they tend to encounter specific topics. Therefore, in the sections of the menu that correspond to each of the modes covered on this site, you can find supporting material for interpreters under the headings titled Documents.
It is important to note that liaison interpreters play a very important role in the communicative process. They share the same space as the speakers, do not use technical equipment and ought to reflect all non-verbal characteristics, like body language in their intervention. It is of vital importance that the interpreter is aware of the relationships that the speakers establish with one another, because in a large number of situations there is not only an unequal balance of power between them but there are also cultural differences. The liaison interpreter must always bear in mind the implications of his or her job and, again according to the mode, follow the code of conduct and professional code of ethics.