Related professions

Apart from AIIC's core business of conference interpreting, various other occupations fall under the general heading of interpretation. These include sign interpretation, social and medical interpretation, court interpretation, and several others. A few distinctions need to be made.

Sign language interpreting

Sign interpretation is used both in conference interpreting and in many of the other branches of interpretation.

Learn more about the AIIC Sign Language Network (SLN)

Court interpreting

Court and legal interpreters work in civil, criminal and administrative courts. In an ever-increasing number of countries people have a constitutional right to follow proceedings in their own language.

At an international level several courts (the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, etc.) have established specialised language services that make use of conference interpreters.

Learn more about court interpreting.

Community interpreting

People may call on interpreters to help them communicate with the authorities or official bodies – a role referred to as community interpreting.

Interpreters may assist contact between refugees and administrative services, between people in difficult situations and social workers, between patients and doctors or hospital services (medical interpretation, police services), and so on.

In this kind of interpretation, social, cultural and human factors all have a crucial part to play in the interpreting process, as do the interpreter's specialised knowledge and professional ethics.

Liaison interpreting

Liaison interpreting refers to the activity of accompanying one or more people who do not speak the language of a country and assisting them in a relatively informal context.

For example, this can be done by a hostess at a trade fair, a guide in a department store, or a member of staff in a large hotel.

Liaison interpreters usually interpret what is said sentence by sentence, which avoids the need for special equipment and reduces the burden on their memory.


'Interpreter-guide', 'accompanying guide', 'tourist guide' and similar terms refer to people in the tourist trade who accompany individuals or groups, provide them with cultural, historical and artistic information, and help them communicate with local people.

Interpreting in conflict zones

Military and civilian authorities involved in armed conflicts sometimes depend on linguistic mediation with other parties to the conflict or with the civilian population, as may the journalists covering the conflict.

The people recruited as interpreters are not always appropriately trained or conscious of what will be required of them nor of the applicable ethical standards, and they or their families may be at risk.

AIIC has set up a specific project addressing the problems facing interpreters in conflict zones to raise awareness, both of the people concerned and of governments. 

Learn more about interpreting in conflict zones.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Related professions". November 28, 2011. Accessed July 10, 2020. <>.