6 things that get on a translator’s nerves

We, translators, like to consider ourselves an easy going bunch. Each of us coming from a different background, country and experiences found that translating is perhaps the only job we see ourselves doing and actually enjoying. Although majority of us feels like giving up at least once a day, are sleep deprived and pretty much each of us has coffee running through veins instead of blood, deep down we truly love our job! These aren’t however the only things that we have in common. Here’s a list of 6 things that can really get on any translator’s nerves, so whatever you do, make sure you don’t do any of these – for translator’s sake as well as your own well-being…


1. Do it for free…

My personal favourite. Remember, people providing translation services are extremely busy. We don’t usually have the luxury of spare time to sit around for few hours and translate something for free. Though, even if we did, we wouldn’t. Remember this is our job, it’s how we make a living. Have you ever walked into a restaurant and asked for a free meal and perhaps if you liked it, said to maybe be back again next week?  Didn’t think so…



2. 7,000 words by tomorrow morning please, highest quality!

Wow! Really? I realise that translators are often referred to as super-human language ninjas but even we have some limits! All that I can do in this case is wish you good luck…

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3. We won’t pay because someone in our office said…

Okay, you asked us to translate something and trusted our expertise. We worked hard and did our very best to deliver a high quality translation, only for you to tell us that someone in your office who “kind of speaks the language” said they’re not sure about it, so now I can’t be paid. Of course, we are always open for constructive feedback, but please remember that translation is a relative matter and a single sentence can be constructed in a hundred different ways. The best thing to do is just to relax and trust us…

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4. Abolishing our beer-o’clock and destroying our weekends

The unspoken, unwritten and unofficial ‘beer-o’clock’ is, for us translators, almost sacred. Every evening, after working hard all day long, we relax with a glass of our favourite drink in hand and re-charge our batteries. Not to sound mean, but please, whatever you do, do not approach me with 200 words to be translated ASAP after 6pm, I also have a life. Give it to the person in your office who ‘kind of speaks the language’…



5. Not knowing the difference between a translator and interpreter

Okay, so once in a while I receive a phone call and it goes something like this – “Our client needs your help in court tomorrow”, “but I am translator, not an interpreter”, “Okay, but you can speak the language, right?” – I hang up.

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6. Can you do it cheaper? Someone else charges less!

Of course we can do it cheaper, but we won’t. Similarly to for example coffee shops, translators charge different prices according to their experience and knowledge. Indeed, you can always get a cheap coffee which tastes like water or you can get a quality coffee, which actually tastes and smells like…coffee. The choice is yours. Whatever you do, please don’t expect a great quality coffee for the price of water.

Based in London, UK

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