A poet with strong connections to the Deeside area has recently translated the children’s classic, The Gruffalo, into Doric.
Sheena Blackhall is a poet, novelist and short story writer , who co-edits the Doric resource the Elphinstone Kist.
Though she grew up in Aberdeen, she was born Sheena Middleton, and is the daughter of Charles Middleton, manager of the Strachan’s Deeside Omnibus Service, and as a child she summered in Ballater, and recently discovered she has a half brother from there.
On why she decided to translate the Gruffalo into Doric, Sheena said: “I was bought up speaking Doric - it’s just in the blood. My grandmother came from Coull near Tarland, and she spoke Doric, and stayed with us until she died so I grew up speaking her Doric. She spoke it so well it was almost a private language.
“I decided to translate the Gruffalo because the kids already know the story, and there’s not too much text and the pictures act as prompts for them to pick up the language”
She added: “Like any language you have to start teaching the kids when they’re young, so the Gruffalo is ideal.”
Sheena did an Mlitt on the use of Scots with primary children in Upper Deeside in 2000.
“Deeside is peculiar in that it went from speaking Gaelic to speaking in Doric,” explained Sheena, “normally it would go from Gaelic, then to English, then to Doric.”
The Gruffalo is the classic tale of a small mouse, tricking a fox, an owl, and a snake into thinking he was friends with a big scary monster he made up so they wouldn’t eat him, only for the big scary monster he made up to actually be real.
The Gruffalo, written by playwright Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Scheffler, has sold over a 13 million copies, and been translated into over 58 different editions.
It was also adpated into a Bafta Award winning film, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Rob Bryden.