Behind the scenes:  top 5 pet peeves of a freelance translator

August 19, 2015 by Alison Tunley

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 top 5 pet peeeves of a freelance translator

Our past articles in this series have looked at the role of a project manager and the skills required in order to work as one. We have also written about one of our freelance translators, Gill Westwood, showcasing her experiences and life as a linguist. Life can be interesting as a freelance translator; it also requires much hard work and dedication. As with any job, a freelance translator needs to take the good with the bad. But what constitutes the ‘bad’ here? In this article we look at the top 5 pet peeves of a freelance translator.


  1. Not sending the source text

Asking a translator to agree to a project without sending the text in question is a bad idea for both parties. Translators need to be able to assess the source text for the terminology and complexity before confirming they are able to handle it. You wouldn’t accept any other job before knowing exactly what it entails, would you?


  1. Asking for a really low rate

Translators are highly intelligent and trained individuals. As such, their services come at a price, particularly those who have more experience (the same goes in most professions), so there is little more insulting than being offered, say, 2p a word when it should be 7p a word. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, especially in terms of quality.


  1. Setting impossible deadlines

Most translation projects have a deadline and, more often than not, a tight one. However, on occasion, freelancers do get ridiculous requests. For example, ‘can you translate 250 pages by tomorrow morning?’ No can do! A good translator can probably turn out between 2000 and 5000 words of translated text a day (depending on quality/complexity/format of the text) so asking for 50,000 words is beyond the realms of possibility. They’re not machines and require enough time to do a good job.


  1. Not paying invoices on time

Working as a freelancer, you never know when the next job might come in. Though you may be able to schedule regular jobs throughout the year, the very nature of the industry is unpredictable. The non-payment of invoices by agencies or translation companies is not only annoying, it’s disrespectful. Companies usually pay wages like clockwork so why not supplier invoices? Translators shouldn’t have to spend their time chasing unpaid invoices.


  1. Tell them that Google Translate is an amazing tool

Don’t get me started on the delights of Google Translate, else I’ll be writing a novel! Yes, it’s an innovative and useful tool, but it’ll never replace a human brain. Those who have no knowledge of languages may rely on it completely, though I’m sure they will quickly find out the errors of their ways. Human translators cannot be replaced by a piece of software. Unless artificial intelligence becomes rapidly sophisticated, qualified and experienced translators will remain in work.

Would the above make it into your pet peeves of a freelance translator as well?


At Rosetta Translation we work hard to build long lasting relationships with our freelancers.  We have an in-depth understanding of the industry and therefore know what deadlines are acceptable, what rates are reasonable and most importantly we pay invoices on time. As such, we know we can rely on our contributors. We respect the work they do and trust that they will reciprocate.  If you’re interested in joining our team of reliable freelancers check out our current requirements and how to apply here.

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Andreea Mohan

Taylor Wessing LLP

We are very pleased with the services provided by Rosetta Translations. They always send very prompt responses, transparent prices and deliver their work product at the highest standards.

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American Express

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Maximus Crushing and Screening

I have translated multiple projects with Rosetta now and I cannot emphasise how great the service they provide is; quality, turnaround time and pricing is the best I have found yet. The qualities of translations we receive are of the highest standard and communication from the start of a project to the end is consistent.

For a company looking into translations, I would highly recommend Rosetta as first pick, as the support and service they provide is first class.

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