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Scots translation brings Romani poem to life

​A poem on the genocide of Roma travelling people during World War II has been translated into Scots and Gaelic for the first time.

The Roma poet Papusza's Romani-language narrative poem Tears of Blood is the earliest known witness account of the Roma Holocaust, or Samudaripen.

Scots language specialist, Education Scotland's Bruce Eunson was instrumental in editing the Scots version, which was translated by former Scots Scriever Hamish MacDonald. This important document was also translated into English by Hamish and into Gaelic by Rody Gorman.

An Impact Event was held in the Byre Theatre in St Andrews to celebrate this long overdue achievement, so that the Samudaripen may become so well known in Scotland, Britain and the world, as the Jewish Holocaust is.

Within his role of developing the place of Scots in the classroom, Bruce is keen to explore learning opportunities around the translation of Tears of Blood in Scottish Education.

He presented a paper at the Impact Event discussing ways into Curriculum for Excellence through 'Bluid-wrocht Tears', the title of the Scots translation.

Bruce said: 'Romani has a link to Scots in that it is a minority language that was not widely accepted, so the translated poem's publication is an important step in terms of both Scots and Romani literature.

'Translating the poem into Scots has given it a new quality and brought the message to life for a broader audience.

'Papusza is the Romani word for doll, so I titled my presentation The doll wha lairned tae sing in reference to that, and also to the fact that Papusza had to sing her poems because cultural constraints of the society she lived in meant she was not allowed to read or write.

'Papusza's determination to live and to survive are evident in the poem, and we also know that she learned to read and write in secret. Her passion was so strong that she would take great risks and would suffer many punishments – even from her fellow travelers - but her spirit could not be caged or tamed.

'It's exciting to share this important piece of work, not just with respect to Scots, Gaelic and minority languages, but in terms of European and world history.'

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