Candid Letter from a Freelance Translator to a Client of a Certain Type

Dear Client,


I am writing you this letter to clarify a few things:


First of all, I am not a robot, nor a machine, and definitely not a walking dictionary.

Yes, I AM a translator, but I DO NOT speak 20 languages!

Yes, I AM a freelancer, but I DO NOT have to answer your emails or phone calls on a Sunday night just because I freelance! The same applies for early morning emails and calls (think 7:00 a.m. and even earlier).

Yes, I do love my job, but that doesn’t mean working is my idea of fun. If a job is very poorly paid, I’d rather be enjoying my time doing other things I love than work for peanuts.

Yes, I will charge again for a legal document I’ve translated for you before, and no, you shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, really?

No, I cannot translate 4 pages in 30 minutes and no, you will not receive your express or overnight translation for the same rate as the regular one.

No, I will neither correct nor put my seal on someone else’s translation for free.

No, I will not wait over 6 months for you to pay me for a job which was of much urgency to you.

No, it is not a “piece of cake” to translate. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to ask you a question: If translation were an easy task and “anyone can do it” (by the way I am sick and tired or hearing this sentence!), why don’t you do it yourself and save all the money and time?

Yes, it DOES pay off to hire a professional translator instead of resorting to Google Translate or your bilingual neighbor.

Last but not least, a simple “thank you” from time to time really makes me feel good. So I will pay it forward and thank you for choosing my services (just don’t make my life a living hell, please!).




A Translator who just wants their day to go by smoothly.



  • Suzanne A.

    There are indeed some days when we would be inclined to send such a letter. I guess just typing it in our own computer helps a bit. This is a reality that really should be understood by business people who hire professionals – translators are professionals just like their lawyer, their dentist and their engineer – not a glorified bilingual secretary! Please understand I have nothing against the work that secretaries do, I admire their patience and the dedication of the good ones to such an extent. God knows I would not spend my days organizing someone else’s agenda, shielding a boss who just doesn’t feel like taking his or her calls, assisting silently to endless meetings and report on them, doing all of the repetitive administrative work – mine is more than enough. I just wouldn’t. But there are aspects to our work as translators that others will never comprehend unless they actually do it – they will not, of course, not should they. We are professionals, we have for the most studied to become professionals, so we do expect to be treated as such. Well, that is my piece of ranting this letter has prompted. I guess I also needed to vent out a bit. Back to work with my good customers now…

    November 5, 2014 at 4:42 pm Reply
    • admin

      Thank you for your comment, Suzanne! I cannot but agree to every word you said. I’m so glad so many of my colleagues relate to this!

      November 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm Reply
  • Elaine Walker

    I really enjoyed reading this and as I work with lots of translators daily I do recognise the truth in it and the sentiments felt by translators. It is funny . Thanks for brightening up my day..!

    November 6, 2014 at 11:24 am Reply
    • admin

      I’m glad you like it, Elaine!

      November 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm Reply
  • edwin

    Excellent article…..resonates with me and many (well..all) of my colleagues!

    November 6, 2014 at 3:23 pm Reply
    • admin

      Thank you, Edwin!

      November 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm Reply
  • Isabelle

    This letter should be sent to all clients prior to starting the job:)

    November 6, 2014 at 9:44 pm Reply
    • admin

      Now wouldn’t that be the best idea ever, Isabelle? 😀

      November 8, 2014 at 5:44 am Reply
  • antonina adintsova

    Thank you for sharing.Surprised at getting to know that things like this occur often and everywhere.

    November 7, 2014 at 1:58 pm Reply
    • admin

      Thank you for your comment, Antonina! I’m afraid they do. Here’s to hoping things would change for the better!

      November 8, 2014 at 5:49 am Reply

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