You Call Yourself a Freelance Translator?

Clint Tustison

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Ever since I began studying Spanish, and especially since I became a translator, I've had to deal with wannabe freelance translators. So many people out there that speak a couple of languages think that they have all they need to be a professional translator. There's nothing that irks us translators more.

Why is it that someone who has taken a couple of college courses in Spanish thinks that they all of a sudden have what it takes to be a freelance translator? I honestly have no clue, and I don't claim to ever be able to understand this phenomenon. (I just like to complain about it. )

However, I have come up with seven ways that you can know if you're a mere wannabe Spanish freelance translator, as opposed to an actual professional:

1) Your only experience with Spanish is a three month stint you did in the Peace Corps when you were eighteen.

2) The only translations you've ever done are the two assignments you had in your second year of college Spanish. (The ones you got a C- on. )

3) The email address you use to communicate with clients is something like

4) You accept every translation that comes your way without even finding out if you know anything about the subject matter.

5) Deadlines? What are deadlines?

6) You think translation and interpretation are the same thing.

7) You use online Spanish translation tools and pass them off as your own translation. So, what are you? Are you really a professional freelance translator or just someone who thinks they are?

If any of the above situations describes you, I'm sorry to say that you are a definite wannabe and I sincerely hope you get your act together before you do any more damage to the translation profession. There are enough wackos out there passing themselves off as freelance translators without you going around and acting like you know the difference between target and source languages.

Give it up now before you get caught. You'll not only save your own hide, but you'll help the rest of us professional translators not have to suffer from any more needless aneurisms.


Clint Tustison is a translator interested in helping other translators improve their businesses. His website, is filled with information helpful to translators regarding the translation industry, and his free monthly newsletter, Translator Techniques , has tips and techniques for translators.


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