War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and we have always been at war with Eurasia.
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
I think that translators should consider carefully words that are being proposed to us (foisted upon us) by PWREs (People Who Run Everything, this is my own abbreviation, so please, try to be kind to it), use them only if they agree with these words, and replace them by more accurate terms, which in some cases may mean more generic words, and in other cases more precise words.
In the so called “translation industry”, there are many words and terms that in fact mean something else than what they appear to mean.
One of these words, a relatively recent one, is the popular abbreviation “LSP”, which stands for “Language Service Provider”. As I already said in another post, whatever the origins of this abbreviation are – and there seem to be several competing theories – it is in my opinion an inaccurate description because this is a term that is at this point used as a synonym for a translation agency. I really only have a problem with the last letter, namely the letter P, because translation agencies (I still call them that because that is what they are) are not the providers of language services.
The provider of the language service is the actual translator, not the agent selling it. Real estate agents, for example, are not providers of real estate either. Although real estate agencies like to call all houses that are put up for sale by the owners of such houses (with exception of houses sold directly by owners without an agent) their “inventory”, they don’t go so far as to call themselves “providers” or real estate.
And as far as I know, car dealerships do not call themselves MVPs (Motor Vehicle Providers) either. I personally think that this abbreviation was invented by the “translation industry” to hide the fact that certain non-persons, who are so cleverly hidden under the abbreviation LSP like slaves who were hidden in the bowels of ancient ships to push them forward with their oars, are the real providers. I proposed to replace this abbreviation by “LSR” – Language Service Reseller, but this abbreviation has not caught on yet.
Maybe you can think of a better one.
Another word that is thrown around a lot these days by the “translation industry” that I detest is the word “vendor”. When an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) of a translation agency calls me a vendor, I know exactly what kind of agency I am dealing with: a translation agency that I don’t want to deal with. It so happens that there is a much better word that describes what I do: namely the word “translator”.
Vendors are people who can generally sell anything: hotdogs, translations, stationary, or tanks. Why should people who sell only translations, and never hotdogs, or stationary, or tanks, be called vendors? Unless, of course, the idea here is again to make translators disappear in the bowels of a slave ship.
I don’t even like the term “translation industry”. What is this industry? How many people work in it? Am I a part of it?
When somebody orders from me a translation of a birth, marriage, and divorce certificate because this foolish person is about to get married again, is this person and am I a part of “the translation industry?” One would think so.
But then, I wonder when I read important statistics that say authoritatively things like “the total translation business worldwide was worth 33 billion smackerals last year”, since this translation of several documents of a new, misguided marriage candidate was not included in the “translation industry statistics” (I never told about it to anyone, and I never fill out questionnaires that the PWREs keep sending to me), how can this number of 33 billion smackerals possibly be accurate?
There must be hundreds of thousands of such translations of personal documents, for example, being ordered and paid for every year that are not listed in any statistic. How do you estimate something like that, and here I am talking only about personal documents of incurable optimists who simply go ahead and get remarried (because, as Oscar Wild put it “… second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience”).
I think that it is very likely that the PWREs have no idea what they are talking about. Which is one reason why we, translators, should not be, lazily and unthinkingly, adopting the words, abbreviations, concepts and statistics that these people are so fond of throwing around.
The other reason why the PWREs want us to use their terms, rather than words and concepts that are much more precise, is of course that if we just repeat official truths foisted upon us without realizing that they could be official lies, or call them “untruths” or whatever else you want to call them, we will not be able to present a cogent argument deviating from the official and generally accepted party line, which is precisely what George Orwell warned us about.