Red, hearts and chocolates everywhere. Social media walls equally full of pictures/sappy love messages and bitter posts about it being a useless consumer trap. Yes, that time of the year has come once again: Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but Valentine’s Day has never been too big of a deal for me (well, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind being taken out for dinner, but, since the other half of my apple needs a 15 days’ notice on stamped paper to be dragged out of his comfortable nest, I’m giving up once and for all and I’ll order take out sushi).

book love
Cc flickr @dustin gaffke

Nevertheless, in the name of Love, as Bono would say, I decided to write a brief Instructions Manual for all those people who decided to share their lives with a freelance translator.

  1. Flexible hours, but in moderation. Being able to manage our time freely is for sure one of the advantages of our profession, however we still need to work if we want to bring home the bacon. If a relative is sick or the cat has been run over by a car, of course we’ll be there to help. However, if, in the middle of the day, you ask us to drive to your favourite farmer in the middle of nowhere because you want super fresh eggs for dinner, or if you ask us to entertain your great-grandaunt’s cousin’s sister who “was just passing by and wanted to say hi”, then there’s something terribly wrong.

2. Flexible vacation time. On the bright side, instead of having to try desperately to coordinate our vacation leave with yours to be able to go on holiday together, we can decide whenever and for how long we want to take time off. No fights, great relaxing holidays: can it get any better?

3. When a deadline is approaching, we’re off-limits. If coming back from work, instead of your partner you find some sort of yeti bundled up in a shapeless sweater with a hair style that would make the Lion King jealous, well, it’s a clear sign of an approaching deadline. In that case, try to be as kind and patient as you possibly can, be ready to be treated pretty much as a bedtable and to sleep by yourself while the soft sound of our typing on the keyboard at 2 in the morning rocks gently your dreams (or nightmares).

4. We judge you for your grammar mistakes. Be careful to spelling, accents and other grammar errors/horrors. Most of us are well-known “grammar-nazi” and even if we try really hard not to point it out… in the end we will. Choosing a partner whose mother tongue is different from yours can be critical for a pacific life together.

5. Mood shifts are a daily occurrence. Translators’ self-esteem levels and mood are directly proportional to the amount of work they receive and to the number of satisfied (paying) clients. At the end of a successful big project, we will feel like the Scrooge McDuck of the third millennium, ready to buy a private jet and travel to infinity and beyond, because “who cares, we are rich”. When things get quiet, on the other hand, we’ll start experiencing panic attacks and, while picturing ourselves as little match girls/boys begging on the streets, we’ll start making arrangements to sell house, car, personal belongings and whatever else is at hand.

rich poor translator
Credits to: Ayleen Gaspar & Katrina Passick Lumsden

6. Be prepared to travel (or not?). Being passionate about foreign languages we are likely to be passionate about foreign countries as well. We’ll want to travel around as much as possible for conferences, events or just for fun. You can tag along or stay at home, enjoying a peaceful and deadline-free environment: up to you!

7. Watching dubbed TV series/movies is not an option: the best compromise could be to watch a subtitled version of the original.

8. Buying gifts for us is easy-peasy: you can’t go wrong with a book or an online course. Or with diaries, stationery, plane tickets to go to conferences, time turners and I could go on…

9. NEVER EVER say that Google Translate will eventually replace us. You are signing your own death warrant.

10. We are curious and creative people, we always have a linguistic anecdote to tell and every day spent with us is a new adventure. How can you possibly not find us lovable? 🙂


If there’s anything you want to add, feel free to do so in the comments and Happy Valentine’s Day! 😉