Words Connect Worlds – Diplomatic Interpreting as a sub-field in its own right

It is a gift, but a hard earned one, to be able to convey a diplomat’s often nuanced message in an equally nuanced way. It certainly takes more than simply being good at interpreting.

In a single session, diplomatic interpreters use all three traditional interpreting techniques, from simultaneous to both short and long consecutive to first sight and back. In addition, we borrow from many and various fields and often find ourselves acting as ad hoc intercultural advisers, protocol and etiquette specialists, hospitality experts, group managers, language teachers, and, even, tour guides.

The oldest form of interpreting known to man, Diplomatic Interpreting is set apart by the skills practising diplomatic interpreters should acquire in order to perform at the highest levels as well as by the challenges we must rise to when doing our job. Away from the safe seclusion of the booth, traditionally set-in-stone notions such as neutrality suddenly become fluid and full of grey areas, terms such as confidentiality acquire a whole new meaning, and our demeanour as well as the clothes we wear carry almost as much weight as the words we utter. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

As the fascinating, challenging, and highly rewarding field of interpreting it is, and given its characteristics and pivotal role in the increasingly interconnected world of the 21st century, it is my understanding that Diplomatic Interpreting deserves its own standing as a sub-field in our beloved profession, that practising and future diplomatic interpreters should be trained accordingly, and that professional associations should contemplate its unique features when regulating it.

Maria Cecilia is an Argentine-born Corporate, Diplomatic & Conference Interpreter of Spanish (A), English (B), and Portuguese (C) trained under AIIC Member Diana Merchant and a translator graduated from the IES en Lenguas Vivas, Juan Ramon Fernandez, in Buenos Aires, where she started out as a remote community interpreter for the US market back in 2003 and further developed into corporate and conference interpreting.

Since January 2015, Cecilia resides in London where she launched MCL Interpreting, a service designed to assist UK and Latin American diplomats, businesses, professionals, and organisations with their language and cultural needs.

She is an active member of the AATI, the ITI, and the London Regional Group, regularly contributing to their publications, as well as a guest lecturer, and a public speaker. She has developed a strong reputation for her high levels of professional performance, flexibility, warmth, and excellent teamwork among her clients and colleagues on both sides of the ocean. You can read more about her on her website and blog on