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Aesop's Fables - A New Translation

A new Scots translation of 100 of Aesop's Fables.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Since the OTS fundraiser was launched we have raised £632 of our £11,570 goal from 27 very generous donations and are grateful for each and every one.

It's likely to be a long time before OTS can offer any merchandising (the standard way for a project of this kind to raise funds) so we must make best use of the tools we have to offer something different.

That's where the idea of doing e-books comes in.

We've done most of the donkey-work (!) on an illustrated Scots translation of Aesop's Fables. Some sample stories appear below.

Depending on which source you consult, there are hundreds of stories, perhaps over 700. We've settled for 100, avoiding the most gory so that the edition will be suitable for parents/carers to read to children.

We've used AI, both to generate the images and help us with translation. The bulk of the proofing and fiddly technical business of layout etc is now underway and will certainly take a few weeks but we hope and expect to have the 'product' available for purchase on or around March 1st.

As a gesture of thanks for all those who have supported us so far we will send a free copy to any of our 27 donors who would like one.

We also make the same offer to anyone who donates to our fundraiser before the book goes on sale. It doesn't matter how much that amount is, we will gratefully accept all donations. (The finished book will probably be on sale for £4.99 - so far as we can tell that appears normal for such a product.)

We hope this experiment will be a success - if it is then we have other titles lined-up for similar treatment: Meditations by Aurelius, Plato's Republic and the class I-Ching are titles we would like to tackle in the months ahead.

But everything hinges on how this first volume fares - it does involve a lot of time so we need to make it worthwhile.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy these wee samples and if you happen to be a Scots speaker we would very much value your feedback.

The Lamp

A wee glais lamp, chock-full o' oil, sputtered wi' a clean, steady gleam, blawin' its ain trumpet aboot bein' brighter than the sun himsel'. But nae sooner haein' said it, than a wee gurl o' a wind cam' skitin' ower an' blaffed it oot like a snuff.

"Och aye," chuckled the fellae re-licht'n' it wi' a match, "ye jist stick tae yer ain glow an' dinnae fash yerse aboot the sun. The starnies themsels nae need tae be relit ilka wee while like ye!"

The Hoolet and the Birdies

Aye, the Hoolet's a wise auld critter, nae doot aboot that.

Back in the day, when the first aik sprang frae the earth like a bairn's giggle, she githered a' the wee feathered folk an' croaked, "See yon wee saplin'? Heed my words, an' nip it in the bud! When it grows tallsome, the mistletoe'll creep in, an' men'll fashion sticky traps frae its berries, meanin' nothin' but trouble for yer bonnie wings."

Again, when the first flax seeds were scattered, she hooted, "Dinnae let them sprout! They'll grow intae nets, weaved by men's cunning hands, just waitin' tae snare yer feathered freedom!"

Even when she spied the first fletcher, she screeched a warnin', "He's yer bane, mark my words! He'll pluck yer feathers, fletchin' his arrows, an' pierce ye through and through!"

But the wee birdies, they just chirped and flitted, thinkin' the Hoolet was daft as a bag of beetles. They laughed at her wisdom, flutterin' aboot like harebells in the breeze.

But when the mistletoe's sticky fruit snagged their feathers, when flax nets tangled their wings, and arrows tipped with their own kin flew through the air, their chirps turned to mournin'. Then, they finally saw the truth in the Hoolet's words, and respect for her wisdom bloomed like a wild rose.

Now, whenever she hooots, they gather close, hopin' for another glimpse o' the future, another chance to avoid misfortune.

But the Hoolet, she just sits, a wise old soul ponderin' the folly of her kin, her words spent, her heart heavy with the knowledge they never heeded.

The Donkey in the Lion’s skin

Aye, a wee doofus o' a Donkie stumbled upon a cast-off lion's pelt, see?

He squeezed himsel' right into it, like a sausage in a skin, an' strutted off, actin' the terror o' the glen. Every critter he met, furred or featherless, fair jumped out their ain skin at the sight o' him, thinkin' they'd stumbled upon a fearsome king o' the jungle.

The Donkie, puffed up as a haggis on Burns Nicht, bragged an' brayed like nae mornin' after, thinkin' he'd fooled the lot o' them.

But wee Foxy, clever as a bag o' spanners, heard his cloppin' hooves an' the triumphant hee-haw, an' recognised the silly sod in a heartbeat.

"Och, aye," he chuckled, "fancy meetin' ye here, Dressed Up Daftheid! I might've been fooled myself, if it weren't for that ear-splittin' blether o' yours!"

There ye have it, the tale o' the Donkie an' the lion's skin. A wee reminder that borrowed feathers don't make a hawk, an' sometimes, the loudest voices hide the emptiest heads.

The She-Goats and their beards

Nae doot ye ken Jupiter, the big heid honcho o' the gods, aye giein' things a shake-up?

Well, this time, he did somethin' a wee bit daft. The wee gimmer heids (she-goats, that is) came cryin' an' bleatin', beggin' him for beards o' their ain.

Now, the billy heids (he-goats) near choked on their cud when they heard this! Beards were their thing, a mark o' strength an' masculinity! This was like Jupiter stickin' his horns in where they didn't belong.

So, the billy heids, horns blazin' an' hooves stompin', marched right up to Jupiter's pearly gates. "Och aye, big fella," they grumbled, "what in the name o' the wee man are ye playin' at? Givin' beards to the gimmer heids? That's like puttin' lipstick on a pig!"

Jupiter, bein' a god an' all, just chuckled. "Dinnae fash yersels, laddies," he boomed. "It's just a wee tuft o' hair! Let them have their fun. Besides, they'll never be as strong as ye anyway, with or without beards."

Weel, the billy heids weren't exactly thrilled, but there wasn't much they could do. Jupiter had spoken, and his word was law.

So the gimmer heids strutted their stuff with their new facial fuzz, while the billy heids grumbled and muttered about the indignity of it all.

Moral o' the story? Sometimes, you just gotta let folks have their wee quirks, even if they seem a bit daft. And remember, strength comes in all shapes and sizes, beards or no beards!

The Old Lion

Auld Leo the Lion, his teeth worn dull and his muscles stiff with age, could nae longer wrestle a decent dinner. But hunger gnawed at his pride, so he hatched a crafty plan.

Hunkering down in a dark cave, he let out a rasping cough and whimpered like a wee bairn, faking a terrible illness.

Curious critters, from timid mice to brawny bulls, came peekin' in, offerin' help and sympathy. But as soon as they crossed the threshold, Leo would unleash a roar that shook the stones, pouncing on them with a burst of his last reserves of strength.

Many a creature met their end in that grim cave, lured in by the old lion's deceitful groans.

One day, a sly wee Foxy, nose twitching with suspicion, stopped at the cave mouth. He peered into the gloom, but kept his paws firmly planted outside.

"A fine day for lyin' in, Leo," he chirped, his voice laced with mock concern. "How fares yer health?"

The old lion, surprised by the fox's caution, coughed harder, trying to sound even more pitiful.

"Terrible, terrible, Foxy," he croaked. "Come in, come in, and see for yourself."

But Foxy just chuckled. "Nae need for that, Leo," he winked. "I see yer troubles clear as day. The tracks, ye see, they all point inwards, but none ever lead out. Seems yer illness is only catching for those who visit."

Leo's face fell, his charade exposed. Shamefaced, he slunk back into the shadows, his reign of terror finally over.

Foxy, with a flick of his tail, trotted off, a smirk playing on his lips.

So remember, friends, even the mightiest can fall prey to their own deceit. And a sharp mind, like Foxy's, can unravel even the most cunning trap.

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