Why I don’t like the word “just”

March 23, 2019


It’s just a page.

It’s just a few lines.

It’s just 45 minutes.

It’s just 3 words.


Just stop.


The word “just” and I don’t get along and I’m sure many will sympathise. 


When a client mentions “it’s just…” my alarm bells go off. Trying to downplay translators’ and interpreters’ work and efforts is not a good conversation starter. It also shows lack of respect and understanding of what these professionals do. So, for me, it automatically puts you, the potential customer, in the doghouse and that’s not a great negotiating position.

All relationships are a two-way street. You as the client, pay, and you expect a professional approach, excellent service, clear communication, timely delivery etc. I, as the provider, expect to be treated as a professional and as the expert, otherwise, why would you approach me? Usually, when customers go to a professional service provider, it’s because of something they cannot do themselves or don’t have the time to do themselves. 


Most of the times, customers don’t know what they need. They think they know, but they don’t. Any kind of professional will assess their customers’ needs and provide them with a proposed solution. So, statements such as “it’s just…” do not serve you or your interests.


And here is why. 

It’s just a page. 

That means nothing. A page could have 2 lines, 3 paragraphs, 5 tables, 30 stamps, 50 signatures or all of the above. You get the idea. And if you want it for an official purpose, let’s say a court case, I’ll spend time going through everything with a fine-tooth comb. I will also spend time printing, certifying, checking and cross-checking and posting your documents to you.



It’s just a few lines.

You mean, a few lines within a page surrounded by other important information without which those few lines would be invalid and unenforceable (in the case of legal documents)?

So, it’s not a few lines then.



It’s just 45 minutes.

Well, it never is really. And I am talking about interpreting here. For me to get to wherever you want me to get for an interpreting assignment, I have to spend time on a train, on the tube, in my car, on foot, you name it, depending on the situation. So, travel time needs to be factored in. That’s time away from my desk. Furthermore, if you want me to do the best interpreting I can do, I’ll prepare for the assignment. This again means time reading documents, presentations, listening to speakers, putting together glossaries, revisiting previous, similar jobs etc. So, it’s not just a 45-minutes-job. It’s a bigger effort altogether. 



It’s just 3 words.

Just do it” is three words too. But they are the tagline of a brand associated with success, power, emotion, goals, fitness, equality, sacrifice. These three words bring tears to people’s eyes when paired with sound and image. Translating those is not a matter of 3 words, but a matter of transferring a huge brand’s impact into a new culture and making it work the same way.

Besides, whatever reason brought you to seeking the services of a translator or interpreter is far bigger than the request itself. Maybe, you are going through a legal battle and you need to win. Maybe, you are buying a house and you need that mortgage to come through. Maybe, you are signing a contract that’s going to bring millions into your business. Maybe, you are trying to reach a new market through a new campaign.



Whatever it is, you don’t just need the 3 words or one paragraph, or a few lines, or 45 minutes of my time. You need me to help you achieve your goals through the power of words. And words come with baggage. They come with culture, agenda, human emotions, several meanings and ambiguities. Therefore, it is never about the words. It’s about what those words can achieve for you.



So, be my partner and help me, help you. 


Just don’t tell me “just”. 


Vasiliki is a professional translator and interpreter working with English and Greek. She specialises in legal, marketing, and psychometrics. She is a Chartered Linguist, member of CIOL, ITI, and the Panhellenic Association of Translators. She is also registered with the Greek Embassy. She's the founder of Greek to Me Translation, a company with a mission is to help you reach your goals through the power of words. You can contact her at vp@grtome.com and you can follow her on LinkedIn,  FacebookTwitter and Instagram.









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