Collaborating with Language Service Providers
Language service providers are companies that engage permanently employed translators, freelance translators, or small translation agencies. Roughly, they can be divided into the following three categories:
- Single language vendor (SLV): Specialized in a particular language, usually the language of the country in which the SLV is domiciled.
- Regional language vendor (RLV): Specialized in regional languages, e.g. the Baltic States, Eastern Europe, South America.
- Multiple language vendor (MLV): Does not have any language specialization and offers various language combinations.
Multiple language vendors often work with numerous regional language vendors, who might in turn cooperate with suitable single language vendors. Most of these language service providers also collaborate with a team of freelance translators. In some cases, they additionally have internal project managers, translators, and reviewers. Accordingly, the supply chain is long and complex.
The advantage of language service providers is a higher level of availability of translations due to the access to a large number of translators. This can be helpful for very large or urgent projects. Companies that need translations in numerous languages can benefit from the broad portfolio of multiple language vendors.
On the other hand, you as the customer usually do not have any direct contact with the translator. Moreover, as follow-up projects are not always handled by the same translator, the style may vary greatly from text to text. Language service providers sometimes assign projects on a "first come, first served" basis. This means that orders are assigned to those who are the fastest to respond to an offer. In some cases, this means that another, better qualified translator does not get the job.
Another aspect to remember is that when working with language service providers, you cannot directly review the translator's qualifications, as this is done by the project managers. Usually, freelance translators submit proof of their qualifications to the language service providers and specify their subject areas, which however are not always substantiated.