Good morning. There are many things that we commonly use - from domestic appliances to hi-tech devices - but have no real idea who we have to thank for them. So I doubt whether many of us realise how many English words and phrases that we use every day were actually coined by a man who was burnt at the stake 477 years ago tomorrow. That man was William Tyndale.
He was a gifted linguist and the driving passion of his life was to produce an English translation of the Bible. Up to that point the Bible was available only in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Tyndale believed it should be available for anyone and particularly, ordinary people, to read. But to do that he needed a form of English that would be generally understood. So he simplified the grammar and invented a vocabulary of phrases that survives to this day: ‘signs of the times’, ‘the land of the living’ and ‘go the extra mile’ – all first used by him and still used by people who may never have read the Bible still less heard of Tyndale.
Religion and politics are often a toxic mix and so it was in Tyndale’s day. The powers that be (another of his phrases) didn’t want the Bible translated at that point. So they hounded him all over Europe and eventually executed him as a heretic. Ironically, within four years of his death, the very people who had persecuted him were arranging for the publication of an English Bible. Henry the eighth’s Great Bible together with the King James Version 80 years later were mainly based on the work of William Tyndale.