Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the very popular “No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series, and he has a new book coming out… in Scots. As David Robinson’s article in The Scotsman says:

The idea for the book came about a year ago. [James] Robertson had already translated works by Roald Dahl and AA Milne into Scots for Itchy Coo, and his original request to McCall Smith was to ask if he could do the same for one of his children’s stories.
Instead, McCall Smith suggested writing a brand new tale [Precious and the Puggies (Precious and the Monkeys)]… “The fact that so many of my books have been translated into so many languages is a source of great delight,” said McCall Smith yesterday, “but the fact that this new story is appearing in Scots is the icing on the cake.”
McCall Smith, who is not a native Scots speaker, wrote the story in English and gave it to Robertson to translate, along with exclusive rights for a year.
He is, however, a keen supporter of the Scots language. “Every language has something to offer,” he said, “a different way of looking at the world, a stock of poetry and song. The disappearance of a language is like the silencing of some lovely bird.”

Good for him! (Via MetaFilter.)


  1. dearieme says

    Unlike in some countries I could mention (he said, darkly), in Scotland you make eye contact with, and eventually give nods of recognition to, people whom you regularly encounter in the street but don’t actually know. It was only when my wife started buying his books that I learnt that Sandy McCall Smith and I had been mutual nodders for years. If I had his imagination, I would make an amusing short story out of that.

  2. You may be the only person who knows both Mr Higgs-Boson and Alexander McCall Smith. Who else do you know?

  3. Is that Freddy Higgs-Boson? He almost married my sister; fortunately, it turned out I didn’t have a sister.

  4. You are probably mixing him up with either Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Freddy Widgeon, or Freddy Arbuthnot.

  5. I know someone who met McCall Smith once at an academic occasion and later found a scrap of their conversation immortalized in one of the Scotland Street novels — at least the newspaper serial version thereof.

  6. I had a brief conversation at a book signing with Sara Paretsky about the circumstances of reading her previous novel, the circumstances were incorporated into her subsequent novel.
    Freddy Arbuthnot–is he the same F F Arbuthnot who collaborated with Sir Richard Burton?

  7. At the recommendation of my sister, I read The Sunday Philosophy Club and liked it very very much. Crown would appreciate it because it shows how screwed up you can become if you get hold of the wrong end of Descartes.

  8. I certainly would, I’ll read it immediately. Half the people I meet know only the wrong end of Descartes.

  9. dearieme says

    “You may be the only person who knows both Mr Higgs-Boson and Alexander McCall Smith”: well, apart from some hundreds, I’d guess, of the hundreds of thousands who lived in Edinburgh at the right time. And anyway my point was that I didn’t know McC S, save on anonymous nodding terms. On the other hand, my wife has the recipe for Frau Schrodinger’s chocolate cake, which is not to be sneezed at. And my grandma went to school with Rebecca West (as she then wasn’t) – you’ll see that my connections with fame are rather tenuous.

  10. dearieme says

    Descartes. Horse.

  11. Yes, of course, it was Freddy Eynsford-Hill, how silly of me.

  12. Trond Engen says

    my wife has the recipe for Frau Schrodinger’s chocolate cake, which is not to be sneezed at.
    That’s because it’s kept inside a box. Or not. Maybe not even there. It’s a strange cake.

  13. the same F F Arbuthnot
    No, no. My Freddies were three fictional upper-class twits.
    F. Arbuthnot: Friend of Lord Peter Wimsey. Knows everything about money but otherwise mentally negligible. Married a Jewish banker’s daughter.
    F. Widgeon: Friend of Bertie Wooster. Once, in a misguided attempt to help him Get The Girl, Bertie used candy to train The Girl’s little brother to say “Kiss Fweddy”.
    F. Eynsford-Hill: The sap who displayed his feelings for Eliza Doolittle by singing “… but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before”.

  14. Zythophile says

    Frau Heisenberg’s Victoria sponge recipe is worse: if you know how much flour to put in, you don’t know how many eggs to use, and vice versa.

  15. Dearie was putting Descartes before de horse. I’d forgotten your wife has German connections, Dearie. My friend’s book on Trevor-Roper comes out this summer. Is Frau Schr¨dinger’s chocolate cake any good? If so, the kind thing to do would be to let us have the recipe.
    What about Freddy Trillthorpe or what ever he’s called, the son of Lord Emsworth.

  16. Threepwood.

  17. marie-lucie says

    F. Eynsford-Hill: The sap who displayed his feelings for Eliza Doolittle by singing “… but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before”.
    But now every time he meets Eliza, ses jambes flageolent.

  18. F. Eynsford-Hill
    But in the book she does marry him, instead of that arrogant guy with all the money.

  19. dearieme says

    “Is Frau Schr¨dinger’s chocolate cake any good?” You may have wondered why Schrodinger was so notoriously untrue to his wife: well, her chocolate cake supplies a sufficient (but not necessary) condition. It’s dreadful.

  20. marie-lucie says

    Eliza and Freddy: Shaw wrote a preface or some sort of notes on the play, in which (among other things) he explained that Prof. Higgins might have fallen in love with Eliza but it was unrealistic to think that this would be reciprocated since Eliza would be much more likely to be romantically interested in Freddy who was about her age, while Higgins was much older. The filmmaker changed this to make Higgins the object of Eliza’s love, with Freddy a secondary character.

  21. John Emerson says

    No one liked Frau Goedel but Herr Goedel, but she was responsible for keeping him alive, and when she went to the hospital he starved to death because he didn’t trust anyone else to gook for him.

  22. The desire for the hero + heroine happy ending didn’t wait for the movie; it was there from the first stage productions. Shaw’s preface is about spelling reform, shorthand, and how Sweet fell short of the standards for an Oxford man. His sequel is what happened afterwards (as a reaction to those productions): Eliza married Freddy (and not just because of age, but also because of the power relationships of the two potential couples); they opened a flower & greengrocery shop (Clara’s obvious objections to her brother being in trade having been removed by her reading Wells and becoming a socialist and taking a job in a shop herself in hopes of selling to the great man).

  23. It’s hard to get people interested in a really dreadful recipe for chocolate cake, but Dearie has managed it.

  24. Nothing seems to be known about Archimedes’s family life, but we can imagine someone saying “Oh, my Archie has some wonderful recipes for pi.”

  25. marie-lucie says

    Thanks, MMcM, I read this a long time ago and am probably fuzzy about all the details.

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