I Just Called, To Say…


No! Wait! Actually, I just e-mailed you to say XYZ. Because I don’t like telephoning people.


My fellow colleagues, friends and followers – this is a very sensitive issue for me. I would like to warn you that the following lines might contain a ‘good old rant’.

What is it with people these days, why do they never call? Why does everyone seemingly prefer sending e-mails? I am not just talking about the translation industry as such, this phenomenon has spread like a disease and contaminated numerous areas, whether in business or private.

This is a classic example:


E-mail No. 1:

“Dear Kathrin,

We have a very urgent project for you, due on … . Could you please let me know asap if you are available?”

In case I don’t respond within 2 mins, here goes

E-Mail No. 2:


I haven’t heard back from you re urgent translation! Are you available?”

And finally, if I still haven’t responded after 5 minutes (how dare I!), a rather snappy

E-Mail No. 3:



For those who know me, I am an adament opponent of 1) shouty capital letters and 2) the repeated use of exclamation and question marks. It makes me cringe every time.

And why, oh why, don’t people just phone up to clarify a matter, especially if it is that urgent? Instead of getting snappier with each e-mail, why not just dial my number and deal with me directly? What is it in the translation industry that everyone seems to go for e-mails? I appreciate translators are prone to using the written word rather than speech, but does that mean you’d want to risk missing out on great business opportunities by being a passive-aggressive mail-sender rather than a proactive, friendly voice on the telephone?

I do wonder whether I’ll have to explain Stevie’s 1984’s hit to my grandchildren 40 years down the road… “Grandma, what does ‘calling’ mean?”


 P.S.: Ironically, me phoning instead of e-mailing uncovered a huge scam this morning. Never underestimate the importance of the good old telephone.


3 thoughts on “I Just Called, To Say…

  1. We always call translators first for an assignment. I know some agencies send mass emails (I used to work as a freelance translator myself, so I know) and see who responds first. I think the best approach is a phone call, if the person is available, send them the documents for them to see and give you a quote.

    Capital letters and exclamation marks show rudeness and lack of common sense. Besides, like you say, in this situation, if it was urgent, a call would take a lot less time.

    I hope you are going to write about the scam you’ve uncovered.

    Thank you Valerij Tomarenko (@En_De_Ru) for sharing this on Twitter,

  2. Thank you for your comment, Alina. Your business approach sounds very professional. I will write in more detail about the scam soon, I am doing some background research on the matter at the moment. Best Regards, Kathrin

  3. Pingback: “I never said that!” | Shaking Barriers

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