Other speakers: Audience (AUD), Boy in audience (Boy #) Girl in audience (Girl #)
JF Hi there, a huge, warm, Authors Live, welcome. Yes, this is Authors Live. My name’s Janice Forsyth and most importantly of all, I’m so chuffed that you are watching wherever you are. Hello. Lovely to see you, you’re looking particularly good. Yeah, you, absolutely, and I’m not talking about the teacher. Great to have you along, we always have fun at these events and we’re in for fun today. All sorts of schools, right across the UK this week, have been celebrating the wonderful, fantastical, funny and often, this is the bit we like best, often down right revolting world of Roald Dahl. And that’s precisely what we are going to do today.
I’m not here on my own. With me are some brilliant pupils from a wonderful Primary School, Nethermains in Falkirk. Here, they are. Why don’t you give us a wave guys. Give us a wave. Aren’t they lovely? I told you they were. They not only look good and are terribly well behaved; they are also Scots speakers, which is really important for us today, because we are looking at Roald Dahl today with a twist, a Scottish twist, looking at him through the Scots language.
And that brings me to our fantastic guest author today. He’s a real expert in the Scots language. He’s written lots of books in Scots and he has also done translations of Roald Dahl into Scots. His latest being Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So please, wherever you are, and our brilliant pupils from Nethermains, give a huge Authors Live welcome to Matthew Fitt.
MF Hi guys, Hello, hello, hello.
JF Great to have you along and I should say Sweeties, what do you think of the set? It’s so colourful, Matthew, isn’t it?
MF Wonderful, wonderful, I’m gaun to hae a wee souk o that later on, I think.
JF [Laughs] I know. Now, we do want to hear your questions wherever you are. So, let me give you the all important hashtag. If you’ve got a school twitter account you can use that. Any questions about the Scots language to Matthew, he’ll be delighted to answer them and we’ll try to get through as many as possible later on. So the hashtag is, it’s easy to remember #bbcauthorslive. What is it? Hashtag bbc
AUD Authors Live.
JF Brilliant. Thank you very much indeed.
So, Matthew, great to see you.
MF Great to see you, Janice.
JF Excellent T-shirt.
MF Thank you very much indeed.
JF Tell me about you and the Scots language? Why do you love Scots so much?
MF I love Scots cause its pairt o me. It is the wey a was brought up speaking. Ma grannie spoke it to me. Ma grandfaither taught me so many Scots words when a wis wee. And ma mum, ma dad and everybody. Ma pals when as wis a wee laddie runnin aboot in Dundee. In fact if you didna speak Scots you would get in trouble from your mate. And, so it wis something that wis jist in me from the very start and when a had a chance tae mebbe write in it later on, a thought can a dae this. Can a actually write in it. Cause so mony folk in ma life had gien me problems, you know, don’t talk like that, speak properly. And a thocht, well if am no allowed tae talk it, how can a write in it. But, for me, writing in Scots is by far an away the maist liberating thing aboot being a writer. Because when a write in Scots, am bein masel, am no bein anybody else, am no pretending to be anybody else, am the person a wis from the very start o ma life and am expressing masel in exactly the way that a want tae dae it. And nou am passing that on tae ma son and ma daughter. Ma wee laddie his favourite word is coo. He’s got another favourite word as well, which a cannae repeat…
JF Thank you.
MF …but it’s something, it’s great to pass on and I hope today that we can pass on some mair Scots.
JF Yeah, and do you remember that moment when you, I was just wondering how old you were, when you got to the writing? Because it’s funny, you would run round your friends, you’ve got to speak the Scots and then some people might go, no that is, as you said, that’s not a proper way to speak. But when you came to start writing, do you remember that, that feeling of yes, this is really me now.
MF A thinksae, a hud a wee bit o success. I never won a Burns recitation competition. I’m sure tons of folk here have done Burns, Burns competitions and maybe there’s winners in this group and maybe oot there there’s lots of folk who hiv won the prize. But, I never won it, but I thought well if Robert Burns, who seems to be really, really famous, could write in Scots then maybe I can dae the same thing. So, I tried it and I wrote a daft wee poem, oh, I think it wis aboot a dug and jist even working out how to spell the word dug, because it kept coming out as DOG, but that, that’s no right, DOAG, is it and eventually I saw a story that had the word in it and thought, wow, if it’s in a story then it’s definitely right. So, from that moment on a didnae look back. I jist thought it wis, this is a great way to write.
JF Yeah, and why do you think it is so important. Obviously we’re talking about it a lot today, but why do you think it is really important that we actually, really celebrate the Scots language.
MF It’s oors, it’s oor language, naebody else in the world is gaunnae look efter it, apart fae us. And I think that a guid way to celebrate it is no just once or twice a year, which is whit we tend tae dae in Scotland, we’re celebrating Scots in the Roald Dahl week, which is great as well. Because it’s ootside those two points in the year. And I think it’s something that we need tae celebrate a lot mair, because when young Scots speakers get a chance to use Scots, they can feel, in some way you can almost the light bulb gaun oan above their heid. And when the get a chance to dae that much more regularly throughout the year, you can see them filling up with confidence, they became much, much keener learners, ready to get on with school work and it’s something that I think that we need tae dae a lot mair of, because at the moment it’s jist twice a year, celebrate it the hale year roond and let everybody enjoy it.
JF And, apart from anything else, I think we are so lucky in Scotland because, you know we’ve got the English language, which we choose to speak and we’ve got so many great words in Scots.
MF Absolutely, yeah, absolutely.
JF I feel sorry, sometimes, for folk who don’t have them because, you know, all sorts of aspects of life, funny, more serious, there are brilliant Scottish words.
MF I mean, in terms of humour, the Scots language, and you mentioned at the start, the revolting, I mean, Roald Dahl’s books are absolutely hoachin…
MF …wi pportunities to translate really disgusting terms. Words like mingin and honkin and bowfin and maukit. Absolutely…
JF Any favourites there. Yeah, like those words. Is anybody mingin in this room.
MF Hands up if your mingin? Hands doon. [Laughs]
But you can tell the serious stories o life and death as well. And I think Chairlie and the Chocolate Works or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Scots it seems to be one o the mair, although it’s funny, and it’s honkin and terrible things happen to the bairns in the story, the spoilt bairns, it seems to be a much mair serious, one of the mair serious Roald Dahl stories. Because the story begins in poverty and Chairlie and his grandfaither, his four grandparents are jist aboot dying o starvation and he looks longingly at this chocolate factory and wins this gowden ticket. I think that there is a much mair sophisticated development of the relationship between Wullie Wonka and who he is, as a person. And daeing that in Scots was great because it didnae aw have to be the honkin and hackit and mingin stuff you could tell some o the mair, mair serious parts of life.
JF I wonder how difficult it is though, because there are, as Matthew just said, there’s all these brilliant words but when you start with something like Roald Dahl and everybody loves Roald Dahl, he’s such a respected writer. How did you feel about that, did you feel very confident when you started off or a wee bit scared?
MF Well, aye, yeah, is a bit. Well takkin on anything by Roald Dahl that wis a bit worrying to start with, coud a dae it. What a did tae start wi was got a hold of a couple of books, I started, the first book a did was The Twits. And I hud a quick scan through it in the book shop, where I wis. I wis, sorta reading through it, going okay, okay, translate this as a go in ma heid. This gaunnae work, that’s fine, okay, in fact when I got to the end, this is absolutely possible. So, back to the start o the book, dae the, start the hard work and going through really beginning to work through the words, work through the sentences. But it’s em, I always try, when I translate, nut tae, nut tae go to dictionaries. I try to use the words that a ken, maself. And, if you are going to ever translate anything or write in Scots, one o the best things you can dae is get a big sheet o paper and fire doon aw the Scots words that you ken, jist fae yer ain heid and make sure that you huv words that ye use yoursels and the words that you use in the playground and if you get stuck on that go and ask grannie and granddad, mum and dad and get their words as well. So, you’ve got a big huge sheet o paper and maybe tons o sheets of paper with lots of words. So they’re your words and if you are stuck, and sometimes I am stuck and I go tae a dictionary just to check out wits that, if I can find an extra word or a new sorta expression. I always stay away from online dictionaries because sometimes they’re a bit, well there’s one person that telt me they looked up the Scots word for a snake. Now the Scots word for a snake is a snake and they came across this word, the Scots for a snake, Matthew I’ve worked it oot, it’s a sairy, it’s a sairy, it’s a sairy, oh yeah, I found it on line. It said in the dictionary I looked up snake – sairy nae entry has been foond.
MF It was a Scots dictionary on line. So a stay away from them as much as possible and git, use the words from yourself, that’s the best way.
JF That’s really, yeah, aye that’s really interesting. I would never have thought of that, the idea of big sheets of paper and the words that you know. Because, certainly for me, you are young, but some of those words take me right back to childhood and, as you say, older generations, talk to your gran, grandpa and all of that. And that’s really important when your writing, isn’t it, because it’s about how you feel, isn’t it.
MF Absolutely, yeah.
JF And so those Scots words really evoke all of that.
MF There’s an awful lot of, an awful lot of associations of words that are buried deep. And a lot of folk say, aw I can’t speak Scots; I don’t know any Scots at all. But after a few wee minutes the words start to come oot and I’ve actually seen a couple a folk in the past get very emotional because they’re words that have been really special to them.
MF Words that their mum and dad maybe used or grannie and granddad. And so they can carry, they ‘re kinda like time capsules, sometimes they’re buried away. Altho bairns tend not to, young people tend not tae worry about that too much, because the words are there, they’re live. So, as I say explore, experiment and see where you go wi it.
JF Yeah, and the other thing is, I mean, you will be reading for us later and your Roald Dahl books, they’re great to read aloud, aren’t they? They’re terrific. And in Scots, I mean Scots is just made to be spoken, isn’t it? And for a writer that must be great, because you’ve got that incredible rhythm. I mean just even, you know, a word like glaikit or, as you said, mingin or scunner. They sound great, don’t they?
MF Yeah they’ve got gusto, when they come oot. One of the problems I hud though, with translating Roald Dahl is he made up aw these words.
MF And a lot of folk say to me, och, you know, whenever folk write in Scots it’s jist makey-up. Well that’s no true but when it comes to Roald Dahl. Thoosans, not thoosans, but hunners of the words are actually made up and so there was a real challenge to try and find a Scots equivalent.
JF Yeah. What was some of the most difficult ones then?
MF Well one of the tricky ones was a giant skillywiggler…
MF …Is what Mr Eejit caws the puddock or the frog that he pits intae Mrs Eejits bed in the book, The Twits. And to try and make her mair frightened and mair fleggit he caused a, in English it’s the giant skillywiggle. And a thought, h’mm, giant mucklescooshywaggler. But, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa Loompas, that was a real, I took ages trying to get one for that. And, you think a oompa, well it’s kinda got a oompa, it’s a kinda trombone sound, oompa, oompa, stick it your joompa feel to it, there’s a musical element. And I was thinking, well how dae ye, ye dae wi this? And I had lots of ideas. I remember there’s a great word for old fashioned Scottish music, it’s putting it politely, which is Heedrum-Hodrum and so once I’d settled on that, that was it. The Oompa Loompas in Chairlie and the Chocolate Works are the Heedrum-Hodrums.
JF That’s great, that must be a great moment when, you say, you had been scratching your head for ages.
MF It was a big relief.
JF Yes, I bet it was. What do you think, you’re going to a reading, just before that though, what do you think Roald Dahl would make of what you’re doing. I think he would, I think he would approve. Because obviously he loved language, he loved the sound of language and oh, being able to create this, this world. And you’re just doing exactly the same thing.
MF He would, a wid hope. Quentin Blake, the illustrator of Roald Dahl’s books, he got a copy of one of, one of the translations I did a wee while ago. And, I think it was The Eejits, and he keeps it on his mantelpiece, in his studio in London. Saying that’s his favourite edition of any of the Roald Dahl books that he’s worked on. Which was brilliant for us, but it’s also great for the Scots language to hear that folk ootside Scotland think it’s great and think it’s valuable. And, so…
JF Yeah, aw that’s wonderful. That is fantastic. So, talking of reading, your going to give us a wee reading just now.
MF I’d love tae, yeah. Absolutely love tae, yeah.
JF Brilliant, so, what is it?
MF Well, this will be fae Chairlie and the Chocolate Works and we’re gaunnae find oot aboot Violet Beauregarde but of course in Scots that has to come oot as Violet Boakregarde.
JF That’s much better.
MF And Violet is this character in the story whose ayeweys chawin, chawin gum. She cannae stop chawin gum. And Roald Dahl seems to disapprove of this because, and Willy Wonka definitely disapproves of this, because she comes to a very sticky end. She blaws up, like a big blueberry because the chewing gum that’s she’s taken, withoot asking Willy Wonka for permission is a special chawin gum that is like a three course meal. It’s tomattie soup, it’s roast beef and tatties and the last course is blueberry pie. But, Willy Wonka’s no quite got the blueberry pie mix right yet, and therefore she taks it, she’s spoilt, she’s no gaunnae come to a good end and this is what happens.
‘Spit that gum oot at wance!’ ordered Mr Boakregarde.
‘Mercy! Save us!’ yowled Mrs Boakregarde. ‘The lassie’s guan blue and purie aw ower! Even her hair is chyngin colour! Violet, ye’re turning violet, whit’s happenin tae ye?’
I telt ye I hadnae got it jist richt,’ seched Mr Wonka, shakkin his heid.
‘Ye’re telling me ye huvnae!’ said Mrs Boakregard. ‘Jist look at the quine noo!’
Awbody wis gawpin at Violet. And whit an awfie unco sicht she wis! Her fizzog and hauns and shanks and craigie, the haill o her boady was gaun purpie as weel as the big mop o curly hair, had turnt tae a brilliant purpie-blue, the colour o blueberry juice!’
‘It ayewis gangs agley when we cam tae the puddin,’ seched Mr Wonka. ‘It’s the blueberry pie that’s aw wrang, ye see. But I’ll get it richt wan day, jist see if I dinnae.’
‘Guid sakes, lassie!’ said Mrs Boakregarde. ‘Ye’re blawin up like a balloon!’
‘Mair like a blueberry,’ said Mr Wonka.
‘Caw a doctor!’ shouted Mr Boakregarde.
‘Stick a peen in her!’ said ane of the ither faithers.
‘Save ma lassie!’ cried Mrs Boakregarde, wringin her hauns.
But there wis nae savin her noo. Her boady wis sweelin up and chyngin shape at sic a rate that efter a meenit it had turnt intae naething less than undeemous roond blue baw – a gigantic blueberry, in fact – and aw that wis left o Violet Boakregarde hersel wis a tottie pair o shanks and a tottie pair o airms stickin oot o the muckle roond fruit wi a wee heid on tap o it.
‘It ayewis happens that wey,’ seched Mr Wonka. ‘I’ve tried it oot twinty times on Heedrum-Hodrums in the Testin Chaumer, and ilka ane o them feenished up as blue as a blueberry. It’s maist annoyin. I jist cannae unnerstaun it.’
‘But I dinnae want a blueberry for a dochter!’ yowled Mrs Boakregarde. ‘Pit her back the wey she wis richt noo!’
‘Mr Wonka snappit his fingirs, and ten Heedrum-Hodrums immediately appeart aside him.
‘Rowe Miss Boakregarde intae the boat,’ he said tae them, ‘and tak her alang tae the Juicin Chaumer at wance.’
‘The Juicin Chaumer?’ cried oot Mrs Boakregarde. ‘Whit are they gonnae dae wi her there?’
‘Squeeze her,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘We’ve got tae squeeze that juice oot o her immediately. Efter that, we’ll jist hae tae see hoo she turns oot. But dinnae fash, ma dear Mrs Boakregarde. ‘Ah, we’ll get her medit if it’s the last thing we dae. I am awfy sorry aboot this, I really um.’
Awready the ten Heedrum-Hodrums were rowin the eediotically-muckle blueberry across the flair tae the Inventin Chaumer towards the door that led tae the chocolate river whaur the boat wis waitin. Mr and Mrs Boakregarde hurried efter them. The rest o the pairty, including wee Chairlie Baffie and Granda Jock, stood absolutely stane still and watched them gang.
‘Listen!’ whuspered Chairlie. ‘Listen, Granda! The Heedrum-Hodrums in their boat ootside are stertin tae sing!.
The voices, a hunner o them aw chantin thegither, cam lood and clear intae the room.
Mebbe ye can help me wi this next bit, because there’s a famous tune that’s associated with the Oompa-Loompas and the Heedrum-Hodrums and this is the first wee bit o this sang that goes tae a poem. A wee help me wae this.
Roald Dahl loved tae mak up words and aw this talk o sweeties and Chairlie and the Chocolate Factory in Scots has got me thinkin it might be guid fun tae see if we can mebbe mak up some Scots words for sweeties wirsels. So, I’m gaunnae dae a wee bit of a warm-up first tae get ye tuned in. Ur ye ready for this, dae ye fancy daein a wee bit warm up and a bit in Scots and test oot yer Scots. And you guys listening in, in the classrooms across the country, mebbe ye can hae a go at this as well.
So, the first thing I’m gaunnae ask ye to dae, get yersels limbered up a wee bit. Jist gie yersels a wee shoogle. Guid stuff and whit I’d like ye tae dae is coud ye pit baith yer airms up in the air. You surrender and pit yer hauns on yer heid. Guid, touch yer shouders, and pit yer airms doon. And think aboot yer left haun and yer richt haun and pit yer richt haun in the air. Yer richt hand in the air. Huv ye got yer richt hand, guid. And yer ither richt hand and gie yer fingir a wee waggle. Point tae yer mooth, that word might be handy a wee bit later on. And same fingir point tae yer neb, nae pickin it, jist pointing tae it. And coud ye, same fingir, coud ye put yer fingir in yer lug, no too far in, in case ye go a wee bit deif. Guid, any tatties in there, there’s nae clatty tatties oot there, jist in case there wis, nae pingin it jist, sort of, mebbe gie yer fingir a dicht, I got one in the eye there, gie yer fingir a wee dicht, on there, gie it a wee wipe. Guid stuff, which is aw clean lugs at Nethermains Primary schuil who are here. And same fingir point noo tae yer left oxter, jist in here. The ither fingir jist in here as well. Baith oxters at the same time. Wha’s oxters are a wee bit honkin this morning. Gie it a guid, get in there, oh here I’m a bit worried here masel. Airms at the side, guid stuff.
Brilliant I think yer ready noo fur daein some Scots sweetie names. And the furst thing a want tae test ye oot wae is the English for Jelly Babies. Any ideas whit Jelly Babies could be. Let’s think, let’s break it up a wee bit jist noo, okay. Who can think o the Scots word for Jelly, any ideas. We’ve got a young lady here who might be able to gie us an answer.
Girl 1 Jeely
MF Jeely would be absolutely spot on. Jeely, so jeely’s our starter there for ten. Any ideas for babies then? What coud we hae for babies. And you guys thinking oot there as well. What could we have for babies? I wonder if I could ask this young lady just here?
Girl 2 Weans
MF Weans would be brilliant. Absolutely, Jeely Weans, that sounds like a good sweetie ye could mebbe huv. Whit else could we hae for this, any ideas. Cause weans, half the country uses the word weans, there is another word that folk use, you guys are from Falkirk so I would hope you guys would mebbe ken this one. This young man just here might hae, hod on a wee second till
Boy 1 Babbies
MF Babbie, Jeely Babbies, yeah. There’s anither word starts with B, maybe you guys oot there could think aboot this. Another great word starts with B that we could mebbe use for this. Young lady just again, yeah.
Girl 3 Beebies.
MF Beebies, Jeely Beebies sounds absolutely wonderful. I wadnae mind haein that masel. Any ideas, this young man just here, hang on a wee second though. Yeah.
Boy 2 Jelly Babas.
MF Jelly Babas. O the word I’m looking for from you guys is bairns. What we’ve got, we’ve got some great suggestions from folk across Scotland coming in. And Fyvie Primary School in Aberdeenshire, Primary thee/four suggested Jeely hooses. That’s a great idea Jelly sweets shaped like houses. That’s wonderful. Jeely Grannies as well or even Jeely Polis might work too. So, thanks very much fur thinkin aboot Jelly Babies in Scots. Maybe we could try another one. What about Gobstoppers. Any ideas fur Gobstoppers. Who can think aboot a Scots word fur Gobstoppers. Let’s break it up again a wee bit, because think o the word gob, the rude word gob. Who can think of the Scots word or a Scots phrase fur that, ye reckon. This young man, just over here, yeah.
Boy 3 Gub.
MF Gub. That’s a great start. Maybe this young man here, yeah.
Boy 4 Mooth.
MF Mooth, wonderful. So we’ve got mooth or gub. And what aboot the second part o the word. Gobstoppers are quite hard. What might happen to yer mooth or yer gub if ye chawed intae it. Something could happen tae it. Whit dae ye reckon.
Boy 5 Break
MF It could break. So, you coud huv a mooth, a moothbreaker mebbe. Whit else could we mebbe huv fur this. Any other words that might, might think aboot, gave you the idea of something violent happening tae yer mooth or something, some sort, some sort of impact on yer face, any ideas? This young man just here.
Boy 6 Moothsnapper.
MF A moothsnapper. That would be brilliant. A moothsnapper would be lovely. And we had some other ideas came in from elsewhere. And we hud from St Patrick’s Primary School in Greenock, from Primary five sour gubstappers, which I thought was lovely. And fae, we had fae Forthill Primary School in Broughty Ferry, Primary six we got from Holly we got a big sourmooth burner, which I thought was lovely. And a gumball bar from St John’s Primary School in Port Glasgow, Primary four. A whit aboot, one last one guys, ginger. We’re in Glasgow so we have to think aboot ginger, lemonade. If we wur thinkin aboot a word, a Scots word that hud the word ade at the end we would just put a Scots word in front of it. Mebbe something to do with, to do with being, being, being jumping up and doon or perhaps we’re, perhaps we’re maybe even shaking. Can you think of words to do, to do with that? To do with shaking or jumping up and down that could give us an idea for, for lemonade in Scots. Just to have the word and the word ade at the end. Maybe you guys in the classroom can be thinking as well.
Girl 4 Leapingade.
MF Leapingade. And the Scots word for that would be lowpenade, which would be great, yeah.
Girl 5 I was just going to say lowpenade.
MF You were going to say lowpen, wonderful. Right, and the one I was thinking of was Gallusade. Because if somebody is really gallus and cheeky you have that at the end, gallusade. We’ve got lots of other ideas for sweeties from across the country. And we had from Simpson Primary School, Bathgate, Primary four, we got sour jeelies fae Adam, which is an absolute cracker and in Greenhills Primary School, East Kilbride, we got tons fae there we got geggie gobstappers and mingin chocolate. There’s, there’s absolute, absolute brilliant ideas here. And Janice you won’t believe some of these, they’re absolute amazing stuff, you got to come and see some of these.
JF I am.
MF We’ve got the, you won’t believe from Greenhills Primary School as well in East Kilbride, we got a Bubble coo.
JF Oh love it, your son would like that, with the coo in. [Laughs]
MF I’ll have to get some of that. Absolutely. And Fox Covert Primary School in Edinburgh, Primary seiven suggested a strawberry guddle. I love that.
JF I’d love to, would you love to souk on some o these. I’m glad to hear the word geggie, finally.
JF We used to say that at primary school, shut yur geggie. Don’t say that to your teacher, ever. I think we should have a huge round of applause for all these great suggestions.
JF From you and from Matthew.
JF Brilliant. And I was thinking about the ginger too, shoogle. That’s another good word, isn’t it. Shoogle, you know shoogle. Shoogle something around, yeah.
JF No we don’t, Janice.
MF They’re no shooglin.
JF I’ve got a couple of questions from our brilliant pupils here. Hello, so if you use the microphone, make sure we can all hear you and tell us your question for Matthew please.
Boy 7 Why did you pick translation over everything else as a job?
MF [Laughs] Why did a pick translation?
JF Great one, thank you.
MF Oh dear. Well I’m a writer and a translator. So a dae baith. But, I hink it’s because a wisnae good enough fitbaw when a wis younger. I wanted to be a professional fitbaw player, a got nae where near it. Didnae even get in the Sunday leagues. So, I had gie that idea up very quickly. So translation into Scots is something I really enjoy and so that’s why, that’s why a dae it. That would be the reason.
JF Great question, thank you very much. And then we’ve got another question. Has somebody got the microphone?
Boy 8 Which character would like to be the most out of all your books you have translated?
MF Oh, whit a question?
JF Which character would you like to be?
MF I think, I think Chairlie. Chairlie, Chairlie, it’s a rags to ritches story. He starts aff wi havin absolutely nothing and ends up owning a chocolate factory. And so I hink Chairlie, Chairlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would be the one I’d like to be. Roald Dahl, I think Roald Dahl loved chocolate an awfy lot. And he said that he, if he was every the headmaster of a school he would git rid o the history teacher and have a chocolate teacher instead. And so if a git a chance to own a chocolate factory I would love to be Chairlie.
JF I don’t know, have you still got the microphone there. Oh, we’re going to give it back to you because I want to ask you a question. Do you have a favourite character from a Roald Dahl book that you would like to be.
Boy 8 James out of James and the Giant Peach.
JF Aww. Good question and another good answer there.
We’ve had some questions, Matthew, coming in from all over the place. Thank you very much wherever you are listening and watching and sending these in. So, the first one comes from Fyfie Primary School in Aberdeenshire, it’s primary three/four. Hello, thanks very much. Are you enjoying it? Great, Matthew’s good, isn’t he? These weans are good too. Right, here’s the question. What’s the hardest part of translating and they’re saying that they wrote some new pages for the Scots Gruffalo last year. And they thought the rhyming was absolutely the hardest bit, the rhyming.
MF Rhyming is hard. In fact there’s tons of rhyming in the Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book. And my best advice tae ye is to, it sounds very, very boring, but go through the alphabet. Take or git, write doon the alphabet A down to Z and if you’ve got a word that rhymes, you want to rhyme it, then stick it doon and go through the alphabet seeing which one rhymes with it. And you’ll come across lots of words that don’t make any sense but you will find the best rhyme. Sometimes folk dae it aff the tap o their heid and you never find the best rhyme. You always got the most obvious one.
MF So you’ll find some really good rhymes hiding away there if you do that.
JF That’s great advice. Thank you very much for that. Here’s another one actually just from the same Primary School. I love this, because they want to know how you get books published. There’s a great big question. They’re wondering do you or the publisher, does the author or the publisher ask you to do the translation. Or do you do it first then take it to show them. And they want to know because a group of six of the P4s there, have just translated, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt into Doric and the teacher thinks they’re wondering if they can get it published now.
MF These guys sound serious. I better gie ye an answer tae this one. Well you have to ask for permission. You cannae just dae it yersel and then put it in the shops hoping nobody notices. So we had to approach the Roald Dahl Estate, Roald Dahl is no longer with us, so he’s no in charge o his books. But lots of great folk at the Roald Dahl Estate look efter his work and make sure that nobody steals it and does anything, pockles it or takes it away and does things that they shouldna be daeing wi it. So we, we had to ask for permission and once we did that we had to pay some money and we also had to ask for permission from Quentin Blake as well, because he’s the illustrator. And once we done that and everything was signed, sealed, delivered. Then we started work on it. We did a wee bit at the start to see if it worked but we have to wait until we have everything absolutely rubber stamped before we do it.
JF Good advice. Yeah, you’ve got to go through the proper channels. But, I mean, even if you don’t get it published, the main thing is to actually do it. To do something, that’s really ambitious.
MF I would love to read the Going on a Bear Hunt in Doric. That would be absolutely, we’re gang oan a bear hunt, bear hunt, bear hunt. Brilliant.
JF [Laughs] Fab. This is from Comely Park, P6 there, Matthew what other books would you like to translate?
MF Well a big hello to Comely Park. I would like to translate, well I’m working on Les Miserables by Victor Hugo at the moment but I’d love to get to the end of that. It’s taken me years and years and years. But, I like Andy Stanton, You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum.
JF He’s been on Authors Live.
MF Has he been here.
JF We had great fun with Andy Stanton, yeah.
MF He is such a funny writer. Every time I read his books the tears are pouring aff ma cheeks. Even, Harry Potter as well, might be a possibility. So, we’re always looking for translations and if anyone gives us the chance to do it, I would be delighted.
JF Yeah, and I’m sure you get feedback from people. Not only at events like this, maybe Book Festivals but do you generally get feedback from readers of all ages.
MF We’ve found over the number of years that we’ve been doing this that a lot of children are coming to Roald Dahl through Scots first and then reading the English, which is absolutely brilliant for us. Because that was one of the ideas of starting the Itchy Coo Project with James Roberston that we would encourage young people to read in Scots, and when we heard that they were no reading Roald Dahl at all or reading books in English but they foond the Scots ones and thought oh here, there’s an English one too and it led them into… So it’s brilliant for literacy and it’s brilliant for reading, in general.
JF Great. Hello to Riverside Primary, hello, thank you very much for your question. This is a really difficult one. You might not have one answer, there might be a few. But Riverside Primary are saying, Matthew Fitt, what’s your favourite word in Scots?
MF This is a tricky one, and I’m asked this quite a lot. Favourite words, aw o them is the answer…
MF …because I’m feart that, there’s so many great words in Scots and I’m feart that if a chose one, the others will get jealous and maybe come and batter me. So, I tend not to answer that one. I would saw aw o them. That’s my favourite. Whit’s yours, Janice?
JF I don’t know, I like so many, there you go. I love scunner and I love all the ones you said I love mingin and clarty and, it’s interesting we’ve got all these words for a being a bit stinky and dirty, which actually suits the world of Roald Dahl, perfectly, doesn’t it?
MF But there’s bonny and braw that we use for…
JF There is bonny and braw and all of that too. Yeah, it’s amazing. I just want to start writing it, right now. I wonder, so we’ve talked about favourite words and so on, I’m just wondering do you, while you’re doing all of this, you must know more Scots words than most people, but do you ever find new ones, Scots words or indeed phrases that you actually didn’t know before?
MF I wis in Aberdeenshire a wee while ago, and I came across the word for a seagull. In fact there’s three words for seagulls. Scurry in one part of the north east, [peul 34:43] and gow and if you use the wrong word in the wrong place you can get in trouble, because they are very, very proud of their words. So, yeah, I’m coming across words all the time. Depends where I am, but usually in places that I’ve not been to afore, there’s always a word that have never heard.
JF That’s interesting, because, I mean, anyone that’s been to Aberdeen, if you walk around the city centre there is always squawking seagulls and all the rest of it. But it’s interesting because that gives you an idea of the local place as well, isn’t it.
MF Correct, yeah. It gives it…it’s gets context and it’s setting and it shows that the words come from, they’re no made up, they come from us, they come from the land and their oors.
JF And it’s interesting, because we started off talking about this, the idea, which I hope if less and less around the fact that you’re talking in Scots is not as good as talking in English and all of that. We hope that that’s gone. Excuse me. But I’m thinking about, you know, when you travel abroad, how aware are people of the Scots language there and how excited are they about the idea of this incredibly exciting language?
MF Well, it’s funny, because I was able to talk Scots in Italy just a couple of weekends ago. I’m a member of the Scotland Writers fitbaw team and writers like Christopher Brookmyre and Doug Johnstone, Doug’s the captain of the team. And we were playing the Italians, I have to say straight away we got absolutely hammered, 5-0, but we were playing in Baraga, which is the toon in Italy where the most folk, most immigrants who came from Italy to Scotland come fae. And so it was really strange, we were wondering about the place and we were aw trying oot our cod Italian, you know, Buongiorno, [aveti :36:13] and their going, all the Italians were beautifully dressed and, stop ye there pal, don’t need to speak that language mate, ye can speak Scots here, yer in yer ain place, this is us, this is Barga. So you can dae, you can speak Scots seemingly in Barga and maybe everywhere else as well.
JF Wow, that’s so interesting to hear that the Scottish Writers have a football club. Don’t you love the idea of that? Have you ever won?
MF We beat England in our first match.
MF And that was it and then we’ve been beaten ever since.
JF I bet there was some good Scots words used then when you won that. You talked about Andy Stanton, you like the idea of him and just generally, I mean, would you, have you got any advice to our people that are watching and the young people that are with us today. You’ve given us some great advice about rhyming and about, you know, get those big sheets of paper and thinking of the words that, that you knew. If it came to just composing, come up with your own story from scratch, have you got any ideas, because obviously a lot of people looking at screens now, their phones and all the rest of it. How do you just clear your head and just write your own story, any advice on how to start.
MF Keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open for things that happen. They can be, they can be ordinary things that could make the start of a story or it could be some quite spectacular things. There’s…watch the news, watch, keep your eyes open for anything that could happen, any stories that are out there, there’s tons and tons of things happening that could be turned into stories. And fae that point on, plan, have a think about how you want to go with it. Think of your ending first.
JF A ha.
MF That sounds strange but think of how the last scene of your story or the last lines of your poem and use that as your aiming point and try it from there. I mean, always keep your eyes open for amazing things that you could turn into stories. That’s what makes a good story.
JF Fantastic. Thank you so much for that advice. And guess what, we’re almost at the end of today’s story and sadly we’re just about out of time for this edition of Authors Live. But, thank you very much to Matthew Fitt…
MF No problem at all.
JF …for opening up, I mean, so many people into Roald Dahl but really opening up another aspect of Roald Dahl for us and we hope all of you watching, wherever you are, you just keep speaking Scots, writing in Scots and exploring your own stories in Scots.
Please can we have huge round of applause for Matthew Fitt. Thank you.
JF And from all of you too. Thank you.
MF Thanks guys, thank you.
JF ust to let you know the event will be available to watch online again very soon. You just go to the website scottishbooktrust.com/authorslive, look out for that and you can watch all of the previous editions to all sorts of brilliant authors in our season and you can sign up to watch for future broadcasts too. So we will be back very soon with another Authors Live but from me and from Matthew Fitt and from all our brilliant pupils here a huge cheerio. Thanks very much for watching.