Christianity in simple and cross-translatable words

Emerita Professor Anna Wierzbicka’s book is the product of a program of extensive research into ways of simplifying language to make it clear, understandable and cross-translatable.

What Do Christians Believe? The Story of God and People, was published this year in Poland, in Polish, and launched at ANU in August. An expanded English version will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018.

The book is the outcome of a lifelong search (in collaboration with Cliff Goddard and other colleagues) for the shared lexical and grammatical core of all languages which can serve as a mini-language suitable for talking about any domain, such as Christianity, astronomy, human evolution, etc., in simple and cross-translatable words and sentences.

The two parallel versions of The Story of God and People – in Polish and English – test the expressive power of the mini-language (in two versions: minimal English and minimal Polish) and the feasibility of the program as a whole (there is also a Chinese version, developed by Rui Shen). These parallel versions give a clear answer to the question: What do Christians believe?

Sociological surveys show that many people today – both Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers – are unclear or confused about the essentials of Christian faith. The Story of God and People – which can be understood by readers of any cultural or ethnic background – sets out these essentials in narrative form without assuming any previous knowledge.