A Language Service Company (LSC) is a professional business that provides one or more language-related services, such as translation, interpreting, language instruction, language testing, cultural consulting, or localization.
Companies and freelancers
When many people think of the language service industry, they think of translators and interpreters. The individual professionals skilled at translating, interpreting, teaching, testing, or any other direct language work are referred to as linguists. And linguists are much more than just bilinguals. In the United States, they are typically independent freelancers. And while it is true that we wouldn't have an industry without professionals like these, many other roles are needed inside language service companies to achieve high-quality solutions.
LSCs are professional small to large enterprises using highly skilled and well-trained staff who work with linguists. Our companies include account managers, schedulers, coordinators, test designers, curriculum developers, marketers, technologists, accountants, executives, and numerous other positions that keep our businesses running and our solutions effective. Companies are able to provide a much more comprehensive set of services than freelancers alone. They can provide a wider range of consulting, and they can also oversee the multiple steps used in a complete quality assurance process.
There are many types of LSCs
Many businesses offer one or more services in several or even "any" language; these are known as multiple-language vendors (MLV), while others, single-language vendors (SLV), focus on just one language. You can even find businesses that work in a small set of related languages, and these are called regional language vendors (RLV).
Some language service companies are generalists, trying to be a one-stop shop for their clients. They provide a wide range of services for a wide range of languages. But many are specialists. Businesses might focus on being the best in a specific industry, such as healthcare, legal, security and defense, marketing, telecommunications, or energy. Other businesses concentrate on a limited set of related services. For example, some LSCs only provide interpretation, or highlight audio and video services, or are experts at software localization. And specializing companies could be a boutique small business or a large enterprise.
The thousands of language services companies across the United States are as diverse as the multilingual population they support.
Our greatest service: Quality assurance
A professional LSC is more than just a middleman, passing projects through to linguists. An LSC can confidently complete a wide range of services in your scope of work while implementing multi-step quality assurance processes. But there are many ways to manage quality, and there are different levels of quality you may need.
Quality assurance could include an endless list of processes. We help you find the most efficient way to achieve the greatest amount of quality. Human translators and company consultants will help ensure cultural nuance and appropriateness. Translations might include several rounds of review by many linguists, typically for high-risk industries (e.g., medical, financial) or creative industries (e.g., marketing). Or, it could be just one linguist providing you with just a gist translation or creating summarizations (e.g., legal discovery). For interpretation, quality assurance focuses mostly on the careful choice of qualified interpreters. The best measure of quality for language training is experience and background, and testing quality is mostly based on test and rater validity.
Also, there are many different kinds of certification, but there may not be one applicable to your project. Most certifications are limited to only certain languages or to certain domains. It can get complicated, but LSCs are happy to answer all of your questions.
How to choose an LSC
You need an LSC that can provide the required service, but when deciding on the right company, you should also consider the following
Provides the language(s) you need and will need later.
Possible specialization in your industry or work.
Years of experience in the language industry.
Can explain its criteria for selecting the right linguists for your project.
When it comes to linguists, quality beats quantity.
Has a workflow to fit the level of quality that you need.
Systems to manage confidentiality and security.
Communicative throughout the process.
Ready to respond to feedback or changes.
Delivers on time.
And ultimately, LSCs are "service providers," so you should expect good services and good customer service. The best way to ensure successful and expedient service in the long run is to have a conversation with your LSC.