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The value of a good glosary

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m a freelance translator who specializes in English to Polish translations. I have been working as a translator for over 10 years and I have experience in various fields such as business, education, literature, and culture.


One of the most important aspects of my work is creating and maintaining glossaries. A glossary is a list of terms and their definitions that are specific to a certain topic or domain. A good glossary helps my clients to ensure consistency, accuracy, and quality in translation of their materials, even if they use different translators.


But what are the qualities of a good glossary? According to some experts, a good glossary should have the following characteristics:


– Unique identifiers: Each term should have a unique and stable identifier that does not change over time or represent different concepts.

– Coverage: The glossary should cover all the relevant terms in the domain and avoid gaps or overlaps.

– Well-managed terms: The terms should be clear, concise, and unambiguous. They should also follow the conventions and standards of the target language and culture.

– Context and examples: The glossary should provide context and sample sentences for each term to illustrate its meaning and usage. This helps to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.



If you are not sure if adding context and examples is worth the extra effort it takes let’s imagine that you desire a glossary of terms in the field of architecture and one of the terms which needs to be translated is “castle”.  If we use the simplest option – table with two columns with English in one and Polish in another, we’ll end up with a pair: castle – zamek.

Someone not familiar with Polish language may be surprised by the information that the word “zamek” in Polish is a homonym and besides is meaning “castle” it also could mean “lock” (as in a rifle), “lock” (as the door lock) but also a “zipper” (fastener). When we consider it, it becomes clear how helpful extra context could be.


The value of providing  additional information struck me when I was reading The Information by James Gleick. In this book, Gleick describes how drums were used to send messages in Africa. He explains that the drummers used a tonal language that consisted of only two sounds: high and low. However, these sounds could have different meanings depending on the context and the intonation. For instance, the sound “ba” could mean “father”, “chief”, “hippopotamus”, or “moon” depending on how it was pronounced and what other sounds followed it.


To avoid confusion, the drummers added extra words or phrases to their messages that gave context and clarified the meaning. For example, instead of saying “ba” for “father”, they would say “ba ba ba ba” or “the father of fathers”. Instead of saying “ba” for “moon”, they would say “ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba” or “the eye of night”. These extra words or phrases were called “redundancies” because they did not add any new information but only repeated or reinforced what was already known.


This is similar to what I do when I create a glossary. I provide context and examples for each term to make sure that the meaning is clear and unambiguous. This way, I can avoid errors and misunderstandings in my translations.


If you are looking for a professional and reliable English to Polish translator who can create and use a good glossary for your project, please contact me today. I would love to hear from you and discuss your needs and expectations.


Thank you for reading my blog post and stay tuned for more!

If you are a freelance translator or a language professional who works with Polish or English, I highly recommend you check out Roman Kozierkiewicz’s dictionaries. They are available online or in print from various sources (see below). You will not regret it.


Roman Kozierkiewicz’s dictionaries are more than just tools for me. They are also reminders of his legacy and inspiration. They remind me of his passion, dedication, and excellence as a translator and a lexicographer. They inspire me to follow his example and to pursue my own goals and dreams as a translator.


Roman Kozierkiewicz may be gone, but his dictionaries live on. And so does his spirit.


Have you ever used Roman Kozierkiewicz’s dictionaries? How did they help you in your translation work? Do you have any other dictionaries that you use and love? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.


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