In 2004, the famous magnifying glass at the beginning of Asterix albums was focused for the first time on the Northern plains of Gaul. The scene was set: Astérix i rinte à l'école (Asterix and the Class Act), the first Asterix album translated into Picard, was a "must read" for all lovers of Picard! This language, spoken across a vast region of 6 million inhabitants, including all or parts of Picardie, Nord-Pas-de-Calais (where it is incorrectly referred to as "chti", "chtimi" or the Northern patois) and the Hainaut region in Belgium, truly deserved to have a Asterix album translated. After all, it's the language spoken in large parts of the former Belgian Gaul, whose inhabitants Caesar so dreaded…
Picard, like any "natural" language, varies from village to village: there is no "standard" Picard. As such, how could one go about creating a "Picard" translation which would please people from Amiens to Lille, and from Tournai to Saint Quentin?
Variations aside, the common vocabulary base shared by Picard speakers is stable enough to unite all Picard natives and to understand each other to a large extent.
The Asterix and the Class Act album was particularly well-suited to this exercise, since it comprises 14 stories, and so the translations could alternate between Northern Picard (alias "chtimi") and Southern Picard.
An unexpected bestseller in 2004, Astérix i rinte à l'école was a huge success! Consequently, Editions Albert René published a new Asterix album in Picard in 2007: Ch'Village copè in II. In a similar way, the Asterix and Great Divide album allows several forms of Picard to be used alternately: Asterix and his friends speak a form like that spoken in Ponthieu and Vimeu, Amiens or Santerre; in fact, their village is located near the sea and a Roman camp called "Bedsum" (Baie de Somme)! With its northern location, the village separated in two by the great divide speaks a form like that spoken in Artois and the French Flanders. The Roman soldiers stationed nearby the village have adopted the local accent, but they speak with some "rouchi" twang from Hainaut and Valenciennes. Each group of characters has their own way of speaking, making Ch'Village copè in II the essential Picard album!
In order to extend the festivities of the banquet in tribute to Asterix’s fiftieth anniversary (we weren’t born fun-loving Gauls for nothing!), les Editions Albert René have decided to publish a Picard version of the new Asterix and Obelix’s Birthday: the Golden Book.
Following their success of Astérix i rinte à l’école and Ch’village copè in II, the same excellent trio of translators from Northern Gaul (Alain Dawson, Jacques Dulphy and Jean-Luc Vigneux) has once again met this linguistic challenge with flying colours, coming up with a colourful variety of Picard dialects for Astérix pi Obélix is ont leus ages - Ch’live in dor.
You have to admit that the album, which brings 400 characters from the series together to celebrate the birthday of our indomitable friends, has more than enough material to satisfy them. To avoid any linguistic discord, the three translators showed a stroke of genius in having characters from the small village in Armorica that we all know and love speak a variety of Picard from the North (urban dialect from the mining district, also known as “chti”) while the Belgians hold forth in the Picard from Tournai, whereas all the other characters (Romans, other Gauls, etc.) speak a more southerly Picard (Amiens, Ponthieu, Vimeu).
It goes without saying that the translators took pains to make sure that the work in this new album was consistent with that of the first two albums so as to guarantee the same rousing success among Picard readers.
To sum things up, the Picard culture has never had it better – the album is in all the best book shops in Gaul as of 27 January 2010!
As a bonus, each Asterix album in Picard offers a glossary in French so that you can sample the explanations behind the juiciest translations. To sum up, Asterix albums in Picard are a guaranteed good goblet of Picard magic potion!
For more information on Asterix albums in Picard, go to the blog Astérix en Picard.
Asterix in Picard : the names of characters presented by Exlibris