[This is a guest post by Brendan O'Kane.]
My new favorite thing is Brian Holton's ongoing translation of Shuǐhǔ zhuàn 水滸傳 (Water Margin; All Men Are Brothers) into Scots, part of which is available online. Example:
Nà shí Xiyuè Huàshān yǒu gè Chén Tuán chǔshì, shì gè dào gāo yǒu dé zhī rén, néng biàn fēngyún qìsè. Yī rì qí lǘ xiàshān, xiàng nà Huáyīn dào zhōng zhèngxíng zhī jiān, tīng dé lùshàng kèrén chuánshuō:" Rújīn Dōngjīng Chái Shìzōng ràng wèi yǔ Zhào jiǎndiǎn dēngjī."
In thae days there wis a hermit hecht Chen Tuan bydin on the Wastlin Tap o Mount Glore: he wis a kennin an gracie sowl at bi glamourie cud guide the wind an wather. Ae day whan he wis striddlin his cuddie doun the brae ti the Gloresheddae Road he heard an outlan bodie sayin “Richt nou in the Eastren Capital Chai Shizong hes reteirit an Gaird-Marischal Zhao hes taen the throne”.
As a standard English translation of that paragraph for the sake of comparison, there's Sidney Shapiro's rendition (Outlaws of the Marsh, Vol. I, p. 2 in my paperback edition):
At that time on Huashan, the West Sacred Mountain, lived a Taoist hermit named Chen Tuan. A virtuous man, he could foretell the future by the weather. One day as he was riding his donkey down the mountain towards the county town of Huayin he heard a traveller on the road say: "Emperor Chai Shi Zong has surrendered his throne to Marshal Zhao in the Eastern Capital."
Holton has done a few translations from Chinese to Scots, including "Frae the Nine Sangs: A wee Pendicle ti 'Suddron Sangs' bi Dauvit Hawkes,” selections from the "Jiǔ gē" 九歌 (Nine Songs) in A Birthday Book for Brother Stone, the David Hawkes festschrift. I've found that my translator friends fall pretty squarely into two categories: those who really like the idea of Chinese-Scots translation, and those whose initial reaction is that someone had too much free time.
Questions of taste aside, though, there's also the question of how one classifies Scots. It's something of a fraught issue, as nationalists (and loyalists in Northern Ireland) will claim that it's a separate language that evolved parallel to English, and will prove this by over-larding their Scots prose with words consciously chosen to be different from the English, while dissenters will point out that in the Scots literature celebrated by Scots nationalists — Robert Burns, say — the majority of the text is in perfectly comprehensible English, with occasional dialect vocabulary or eye-dialect spellings.
Enter the Chinese term fāngyán 方言 (VHM: nearly universally mistranslated in English as "dialect," the Chinese word means simply "topolect," i.e., the speech pattern of a place, be it large or small)! I've been using it to describe the translation to Chinese friends (as Sūgélán fāngyán 苏格兰方言 [Scottish topolect]; I figure "Lallans" is probably a bit too advanced a term), and have thus successfully sidestepped the question entirely. I knew the vagueness had to be good for something.