Common Awkward Scenarios between Translators and their Clients

Before I start, let me state that all of the below scenarios are real life encounters. Yes, I must admit: been there, done that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had such encounters. In fact, I believe almost every translator in the world has had at least one of the below dialogues with at least one of their clients.

To be more exact, some of the following scenarios happened with me just a couple of days ago. You can say I’ve been having awkward business days lately. It’s never a dull day when you’re a freelance translator; you get to work on new projects and meet new clients on a daily basis.

As much as it’s frustrating to have awkward encounters with clients, when you look back, it’s actually funny. What’s funny is the lack of common sense sometimes. This is what gets us translators puzzled.

So, without further ado, below is a number of conversations translators don’t wish to have with their clients, yet they unfortunately do:



Client: “Just translate what I’m telling you. Disregard what’s in the actual document.”
Sworn Translator: “But it’s MY liability, MY name, MY signature and MY seal on the translation.”


Client sends email with no subject, no body, no specification of language pairs; just the attached document.

Translator replies: “Please take 30 seconds of your precious time to specify the language pair in the subject of your email. I’d be able to assist you better this way.”


Client: “I have a very urgent translation project. It’s only 4000 words and I’m sure you can translate them in a couple of hours. The subject is very easy.”

Translator: “Does this mean I’m supposed to drop every other translation project I’m working on and work on this assignment? Even if I do, it is not humanly possible to translate 16 pages in 2 hours!”



Client: “I’d like to add a couple of sentences to this legal document. Can you please include them in your certified translation?”

Sworn Translator: “I cannot add anything that is not already included in the original legal document. I must stay true to the latter!”



Client: “I have a very urgent translation project. We need this job done by the end of the day.”

Translator: “Alright, this is an express translation request and my express translation rates apply. How would you like to pay?”

Client: “But we’re giving you all day long to finish around 1000 words. We’re sure an entire business day is enough and it should not count as an express translation request.”

I’ll let you imagine what happens next…



Client: “I have this legal document to translate. How much would it cost me?”

Sworn Translator: “It should cost you …..”

Client: “But I was told it would cost me much less elsewhere.”

Translator: “Why did you contact ME then?”



Client: “I have a family civil status record to translate. 2 of my daughters are married and their register was transferred by marriage. How about you omit that part and I’ll pay you only half the price?”

Sworn Translator: “Did you just deny you had 2 daughters? The fact that they are married does not mean I can just omit information included in the legal document. If it’s there, it’s there for a reason and I must include that in my translation!”



Client: “I have a 500-word text to be translated, but I only have a budget for 250 words. How about if you use Google Translate and then correct the text? This way you would have saved time and your proofreading rates will apply.”

Translator: “Since you obviously don’t care about the quality of the translation, how about you save all your money and use Google Translate yourself?”


There are plenty more scenarios and I think this is going to be a series of similar blog posts. If you’ve encountered any other awkward situations, please share them with us!

One thought on “Common Awkward Scenarios between Translators and their Clients

  1. It does happen as in every other field of life-some people like to use everybody they can to pay as less efforts and money as possible. Why not take advantage of a person if he or she is liable to it?(they think…)
    The way out: what I say- is not a a point at issue, it is a point of fact-and-no further discussion.

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