I am often asked what I do for a living. I tell people that I am a self-employed worker in the language services industry. At the sound of that answer, some become perplexed; I must therefore specify: “I am a freelance writer, translator, and editor.” But it seems that many ignore the writer and editor bit and think that being a translator—and working in translation—is all I do. Seventy-five per cent of my work is dedicated to translation, that’s for sure. However, I like putting my foot in other waters, especially when work in the translation department is slow.
Upon reflection, I decided to dedicate this entry to language services. So let’s clear something up right now: language services are much more than translation.
Before going further, it’s worth noting that language services are synonymous with linguistic services. In Quebec, many professionals seem to follow the name of their company with the generic term “linguistic services” (e.g. Services linguistiques ABC Linguistic Services). Major provincial offices and associations—both private and public—tend to go with “linguistic services,” too. Perhaps this practice is different in other Canadian provinces and territories, the United States, and abroad.
If language services are more than translation, what other services can language professionals provide? The following non-exhaustive list will be of help:
- editing/proofreading/copy editing (for authors, publishing houses, governments, not-for-profit organizations, and so on);
- writing in various fields (creative, professional, technical, website);
- consecutive and simultaneous interpretation (both conducted orally, by the way);
- language education (for adults, children, immigrants, in-house workers, politicians, and the list goes on);
- localization (both in languages and software);
- adaptation and transcreation;
- transcription and closed-captioning.
Some language professionals work in various fields, while others dedicate their work in only one field. What’s more, some of the aforementioned fields are complementary to others. For instance, it is not uncommon for editors to work closely with writers and proofreaders, and vice-versa. Owing to the increasing rise in globalization, fields such as localization, adaptation, and transcreation are new to the language industry. (More to follow in an upcoming entry.)
Now that I have set the record straight as per language services, some of you might want to know what language professionals do. Last November, I wrote a “how-to” guide for understanding who language professionals are and what they do. You may read that article here. With the help of my colleagues Natalia Linares and Patricia Barthélémy, you can read this text in Spanish and French.
Conclusion: I am more than just a translator! As I continue to explore the language industry, I might dedicate myself to other fields, such as interpretation, language education, or localization. As the famous line goes, “the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera.”