Recently published Asterix and the Picts is the first Asterix book in eight years and will no doubt be awaited with great anticipation by the series’ legions of fans. The book will be published in 23 languages, amongst which, fittingly with the adventure featuring the ancient Scots, for the first time will be Scots. Translator Matthew Fitt said: “I have been wanting to translate Asterix into Scots since I was little boy and it has been an awful lot of fun. I have kept as close to the French original as possible, although I did have a little bit of leeway.
Scottish dialects play a major role in the story, with the Gauls speaking a mix of Glaswegian and Ayrshire Scots, the Picts talking in Doric and the Romans in Dundonian. I wanted the Romans to have an urban dialect, so what could be more noble than that spoken by Dundonians?”
Asterix and the Picts also very much tackles, some might say plays up to, the contemporary issue of Scottish independence. A chieftan seeking to unite the Pictish tribes against the colonial power of Rome mentions an ‘Aye or Naw’, vote. Yes or No, mimicking the SNP ‘Vote Yes’, campaign. The ownership of Pictland’s peat is also a thinly veiled metaphor for Scottish oil as well as the chief’s ‘Free by 43’ (BC), campaign mantra.
Although details of the storyline are being kept carefully under wraps, the writers have of course stuck to a Celtic theme and readers can be sure that there will be plenty of kilts, bagpipes and whisky-fuelled mayhem. Asterix and his erstwhile companion Obelix apparently encounter a young pict who has been washed-up onshore near to the heroes’ village in Gaul. Upon their guest’s explanation of his people’s travails at the hands of the Romans, Asterix and Obelix decide to accompany him back to Pictland to see what they can do to help.
As a Scot and a huge Asterix fan from childhood, I have ordered my copy for its release today and look forward to some kilted adventures of the indomitable Gauls arriving on my doorstep any moment!