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Asterix and the Pechts

5th November 2013

Fans of Asterix the Gaul will welcome the news that a new version of the story has been published in the Scots language

 Astérix le Gaulois was originally written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo (who also took over writing when Goscinny died in 1977) and first appeared as a cartoon strip in the magazine Pilote in 1959, published in Belgium and France, the first book following in 1961. Today the stories are written and illustrated by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad. 

The new Scots version, called Asterix and the Pechts, was translated by children’s author Matthew Fitt, who will be familiar for his series of stories and translations produced under the imprint Itchy Coo. 

For those who are perhaps unfamiliar with the Asterix plot line, the stories are set in ancient Gaul (now France) in the time of the Roman invasion and occupation. One band of Gauls, led by Asterix, is able to resist the Romans by means of a magic potion, brewed by the village druid, which gives superhuman strength. As a result of this potion, Asterix embarks on a series on adventures both at home and elsewhere. 

In Matthew Fitt’s translation Asterix and his companion Obelix visit Pechtland, that is, the ancient kingdom of northern and eastern Scotland. Rather than produce a text in a single, or standard Scots, Fitt chose appropriately to write in a number of forms reflecting the regional dialects of the language, to good effect. So, for example, Asterix and Obelix speak Glasgwegian, the Picts speak Doric or North East Scots, while the Romans speak Dundonian Scots. 

The idea of an Asterix translation in Scots is one which has been in the offing for a number of years. Dr Alasdair Allan, now Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages in the Scottish Government, produced a version in Scots of Asterix an the Muckle Fecht during the 1990’s, though it was not published. 

Matthew Fitt’s translation is a welcome addition to the growing number of children’s classics now available in Scots and follows on from Susan Rennie's translation of the Tintin favourite, the Derk Isle, which was published in September.

Asterix and the Pechts is published by Itchy Coo and Black & White Publishing as a paperback priced £7.99 (ISBN 978 1 84502 718 6).