2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, and a major event during the year has been the release of the Stephen Spielberg film of Dahl's classic children's novel, "The BFG". Black & White Publishing's contribution to the celebration will, we suspect, get a little less international exposure: but it is no less worthy of praise and support for that. "The GFG" is a translation of "The BFG" into Scots. For those unfamiliar with its status, it is worth noting that Scots is widely regarded to be a separate language rather than a dialect, especially amongst those who speak it, and it is certainly not just English written with a Scottish accent. Having said that, Scots is much more likely to be encountered as a spoken language than as a written one, so the publication of a widely loved children's classic that has been translated into Scots is something that is wholeheartedly to be welcomed.
The book that has emerged is nicely produced and beautifully illustrated. The translation was undertaken by Dr Susan Rennie, lecturer in English and Scots language at the University of Glasgow. Perhaps more importantly, she has written several books for children in Scots and has translated the Tintin book "The Derk Isle" into Scots. The result is a book that captures the feel of Dahl's original, and which will appeal to the same sort of age group as any other edition of the book (which, being Dahl, means from quite young to very old). For those new to Scots, "GFG" stands for "Guid Freendly Giant", and as anyone who knows the book will tell you, translation into any language presents some unique challenges, not least because of the large number of invented words in the original English. As a result, for example, "Snozzcumber" (a disgusting vegetable eaten by giants) becomes "feechcumber". The names of the giants, based on recombined pieces of English words in the original, have also been given a Scots makeover.
Perhaps the best way to get a feel for the book comes from the publisher's Scots synopsis: "Ae nicht, Sophy is wheeched fae her bed in the orphanage by the muckle haund o a giant. Lucky for her, it belangs tae the Guid Freendly Giant. The GFG disna eat wee lassies. He jist eats footsie feechcumbers an drinks fuzzleglog. But there are ither giants that are no sae freendly an that snashter up slaversome human beans for their tea. Read Susan Rennie's new translation tae find oot if Sophy an her new freend can think on a sleekit ploy tae stap the likes o the Bluidsqueesher, the Girslegorbler, the Slaistermaister, an their hail ugsome clan!"