Horrors on the Cowgate

We’re well into August which means Edinburgh’s population has expanded to bursting point. Every spare nook and cranny turns into either a performance space or a boozer. Last year at this time I was working out of town so escaped the worst of the madness in the Old Town, but this year I have a different job with my office right in the heart of it all. This means that I not only get to experience the best of the cultural offerings on my doorstep, but sadly also see some of the worst.

Edinburgh is well known for the ‘tartan tat’ shops which pervade the Royal Mile and surrounding streets (questionable wool products! bagpipe versions of your favourite pop hits! kilt towels! tartan EVERYTHING!) and as a resident you get used to them. They bear no resemblance to the Scotland or Scottish heritage any of us know, but they clearly serve a purpose to visitors or else they wouldn’t survive (and keep multiplying). It takes something really bad, then, to jump out at you in how ill-informed and misjudged it is. But, ladies and gents, I found something. Hiding away in the Cowgate is Slangevar. A bar and restaurant according to their website, their banners state that Slangevar is “the Gaelic for cheers”. No, no it’s not, that would be Slàinte mhath. Phonetically: slahn-chuh vah.
Here I am, standing in the rain having just seen the sign. As you can see, not very impressed:

I’m willing to forgive not using proper spelling if the phonetic reading of a name or word is accurate and makes sense, but in this case it’s just plain incorrect. It’s so infuriating to see and smacks to me of nothing but laziness. Many people would claim not to know a word of Gaelic, but use the word slàinte themselves whenever they raise a glass. It’s embedded in folks knowledge, much the same way many words of Scots are too.

Capture

From the website. Edinburgh has never been this sunny.

I applaud anyone who wants to incorporate some Gaelic into their company identity, but it’s an affront to those of us who are part of that culture when it’s taken for granted. Do your research (you can do worse than starting here) and pay someone if necessary to research it for you. You’ll do us all a favour, and not make a fool out of yourself.

Slàinte.

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2 thoughts on “Horrors on the Cowgate

  1. How unfortunate. I wonder, though, if this rendering is better for those visiting the capital who don’t pronounce their ‘r’s. So it really does end up being Slanj eh vaa to everyone from Dawn Sawth, which is everyone is the world, right?

    Those of us who retain rhoticity – like Scots, Irish and most of North America… will then pronounce it wrong, like slàinte mhaithear. Hmm. Where was this festival taking place again?…

    Slag ‘er Maw!

    • Hi Tormod, thanks for taking the time to comment. Given the sheer quantity of different nationalities and cultures represented in both festival performers and visitors, I don’t have much truck with the idea that it’s been done simply by/for folk from the south of England. More just that it’s been done with a lack of effort and thought.

      Cheers
      Anna

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