Language Service Providers – What Are They?

The term “Language Service Provider” or “LSP” is not a common term used here in the United States. Some of the larger companies with an internal language division or those who work within a facility that utilizes linguists may be familiar with LSP’s but surprisingly I have found that most individuals have no idea what an LSP is. Language Service Provider’s (LSP) are businesses that provide translation, interpretation, localization, language and cultural training services. LSP’s typically provide the following services:

Interpretation “Spoken” – Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages. The process is described by both the words interpreting and interpretation. In addition there are various modes of interpretation that include consecutive and simultaneous/conference.

Consecutive interpretation is when a speaker/facilitator/professor begins speaking and then pauses, waiting for the interpreter to interpret their statement into the target language. When the interpreter is finished interpreting the speaker resumes where he/she left off.

Simultaneous/Conference Interpretation – Personally, I like to view and consider simultaneous and conference interpretation as two separate categories, but in essence the mode is the same. Simultaneous interpretation is when the speaker/presenter does NOT pause, but keeps speaking at natural pace. An interpreter or team of interpreters than interpret the speech/presentation while lagging about 3-4 seconds behind the speaker making the interpretation as real time as possible.

Telephonic Interpretation – Telephonic interpretation is communication between several individuals via a telephone who do not speak the same language. The interpreter helps to overcome this communication barrier by interpreting, consecutively, between the parties.

Translation “written”– Translation is the communication of the meaning of a written word or term by means of an equivalent term in another language. When translating, a translator does not change the meaning, nuances, register or meaning.

Language localization– Language localization can be defined as the second phase of a larger process (international and localization) of product translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions, groups) to account for differences in distinct markets. Thus, it is important not to reduce it to a mere translation since it involves a comprehensive study of the target culture in order to correctly adapt the product. The localization process is most generally related to cultural adaptation and translation of subjective items (i.e. software, video games, website, etc.).

Language Training Services– Language training is typically a comprehensive program to facilitate the education of language.

Cultural Training Services– Cultural training providers provide training to corporate and/or governmental employees or groups with the tools needed to function, communicate and work effectively in a global or regional market. These training services typically include region specific cultural.

To sum things up, Language Service Providers (LSP) may support all the services listed above or may specialize in one or two. There is nothing wrong with either approach, as several LSP’s have been very successful in their specialization whereas others excel in their diversification. There is no wrong in asking an LSP what their specialization is, but keep in mind that regardless of their specialization, an LSP is only as good as their project management and linguistic team.

Written by Kevin McQuire