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Friday, June 16, 2006

Good News for Everyone IV: Annie Cressman

After mentioning the influence of the Versión Popular on the Good News Bible, Nida writes,

    A further stimulus for doing something similar in English came from the creative work of a missionary in Liberia, Miss Annie Cressman, whose translation of the New Testament into the form of English used in West Africa showed how significant and important it would be to have a translation in a more broadly based form of common English. (page 46)
I had not heard of Annie Cressman before so it was with delight that I discovered that she was a Mennonite farm girl, born in Elmira, Ontario, Canada. In 1935 she was reading a copy of The Pentcostal Testimony when she noticed a report by Sophie Nygaard, a Liberian missionary. Annie realized that this was God calling her to Liberia, West Africa.

As a missionary of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, she devoted her life to Liberia studying the Tchien dialect, translating scripture, and teaching the Bible. While teaching in an English language Bible School in Liberia in the 1950's, she realized that she was having to spend too much time explaining the basic meaning of the text.

Cressman then started preparing passages in an easier form of English. The gospel of Mark was first published by Full Gospel Publishing in Toronto, Canada in 1959 and the whole New Testament was published in 1969 as the New Testment in Worldwide English.

Amazingly the vocabulary is made up of only 1,500 words plus names - much fewer than any other simple English edition. "Each word and phrase has been carefully checked to give true understanding in different countries and regions." The Worldwide English New Testament is now available as a Palm Bible or Pocket PC

Cressman is also the author of The Pastor, "meant to help pastors understand their calling and responsibility in a better way."

While Cressman's Bible in Worldwide English BWE, is not a translation but a paraphrase, it represents a paradigm shift in Bible versions. I will write more about this Bible version next.


At Fri Jun 16, 08:21:00 PM, Blogger Richard A. Rhodes said...

In the same period a guy by the name of Charles Ogden had a similar idea. He was aiming at a different target, namely, a competitor to Esperanto. He ended up proposing a kind of English pidgin that doesn't sound like a pidgin. Nonetheless, ESL types can tell you there is a loosely defined language called Basic English with a severely restricted vocabulary that is still around.

Check out the fairly accurate wikipedia article at

At Sat Jun 17, 01:30:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Jun 17, 01:36:00 AM, Blogger Eddie said...

The French, being more organised about language issues than the Anglo-Saxons, have recognised a restricted form of the language: français fondamental, which has a restricted vocabulary and range of grammatical structures. UBS published a Bible transltion into français fondamental called Paroles de Vie sometime in the 1990s. It's well worth getting hold of if you work in French.

At Sat Jun 17, 08:28:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The Bible in Basic English is here.I am not sure if this link will stay but the Bible is listed here.

At Sat Jun 17, 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The Bible in Basic English has about 1000 different words plus names, so the vocabulary has been expanded a little. There are certainly pros and cons to this. I think that, as you mention, the Bible in Basic English might precede Cressman's Bible, or they are at least concurrent.

Thanks for all the interesting feedback.

At Sat Jun 17, 10:07:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

BBE is a free download for free e-Sword also.

At Tue Jun 27, 07:02:00 AM, Blogger Paul Morriss said...

Have you come across the EasyEnglish Bible?

At Tue Jun 27, 07:30:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Have you come across the EasyEnglish Bible?

Yes, I came across it about a year ago and have downloaded it to my hard drive.

Have you worked with it enough to have any comments on it?

At Wed Apr 04, 01:11:00 AM, Blogger Becky said...

In your blog about Annie Cressman, you mention Sophie Nygaard, a missionary to Liberia. I believe that Sophie is my husband's relative (great aunt) and would love more information about her. Can you tell me where you found this information? I'd love to get a copy for my husband. Thanks! Becky Hansen


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