Samuel Pollard (20 April 1864 in Camelford, Cornwall – 16 September 1915 in China) was a BritishMethodistmissionary to China with the China Inland Mission who converted many of the A-Hmao (closely related to the Hmong) in Guizhou to Christianity, and who created a Miao script that is still in use today.
Born the son of a Bible Christian Church preacher, Sam Pollard initially aimed for a career in the civil service. However, a conference in London in 1885 encouraged him to instead become a missionary. He was appointed a missionary in 1886, left the United Kingdom for China in 1887, and was posted to Yunnan province in 1888. He remained in China, as a missionary, until his death from typhoid. His Chinese name was 柏格理.
In 1891 he was posted to a newly opened Bible Christian mission station in Chaotung, where he married Emmie Hainge. He began a Christian movement with the Big Flowery Miao in 1905 that spread to Chaotung. Pollard also invented a script for the Miao languages called the Pollard Script (also sometimes called the "Ahmao script"). He credited the basic idea of the script to the Cree syllabary, "While working out the problem, we remembered the case of the syllabics used by James Evans, a Methodistmissionary among the Indians of North America, and resolved to do as he had done". He also gave credit to a non-Miao Chinese pastor, “Stephen Lee assisted me very ably in this matter, and at last we arrived at a system”.
Pollard never claimed any divine inspiration or vision in creating the script. Rather, he left a record of hard work, advice from others, and ideas from other scripts. At the beginning, he wrote, he “made an experiment in getting out a written language for the Miao”, even writing out some symbols in his diary. He credited the basic idea of the script to the Cree syllabary (discussed above), “While working out the problem, we remembered the case of the syllabics used by a Methodist missionary among the Indians of North America, and resolved to do as he had done”. He also gave credit to a Chinese pastor, “Stephen Lee assisted me very ably in this matter, and at last we arrived at a system”. In another document he wrote “Mr. Stephen Lee and I are attempting to reduce the Miao language to a simply system of writing. The attempt may succeed or it may end... stillborn”. He asked himself in his diary “How shall I manage to distinguish tones?” then later wrote how he had found the solution, adopting an idea from Pitman’s shorthand. In listing the phrases he used to describe the process of creating the script, there is clear indication of work, not revelation: “we looked about”, “working out the problem”, “resolved to attempt”, “assisted”, “at last we arrived at a system”, “adapting the system”, “we found”, “solved our problem”. In all of this, we see no hint of specific revelation or any vision, only intellectual labor.