Slàinte Mhath

Picture of Slàinte Mhath

The Scottish Gaelic language is one of the Celtic languages ​​and is spoken today only in parts of Scotland, mainly in the Hebrides, in the Scottish Highlands and partly in Glasgow. Scottish Gaelic is also closely related to Irish and the almost extinct language Manx (traditionally spoken on the Isle of Man). Anyone who spends any time around Scotch Whisky will inevitably come across the greeting Slàinte Mhath (Slanj-a-va or slanschewaa) eventually.

In everyday British life, the old Gaelic term was largely replaced by a cheerful cheers. However, the traditional Scottish cheers continues to enjoy great popularity at Burns Nights, tastings, distillery tours and other whisky events - and reliably ensures twisted tongues.

What is Slàinte Mhath?

The term Slàinte Mhath comes from the Gaelic and translates as good health. It is the traditional Scottish and Irish toast. The root word slán is related to the Latin ‘salus’ for health, today people in France toast with ‘santé’ and in Italy with ‘salute’.

Slàinte mhath is the Scottish spelling, Slàinte mhaith is the Irish, in both languages, the mhath or mhaith can also be omitted, shortening the toast to Slàinte (health).

How do you pronounce Slàinte Mhath?

Slàinte Mhath is pronounced as either slanschewaa or slansche ‘va. Phonetically it is written as slɑːndʒə ˈva. To understand this, here are a few of the Scottish Gaelic pronunciation rules that apply to this toast: Accented vowels are drawn out. The I in “AI” is mute here. ‘Mh’ in mhath becomes ‘w’ and ‘th’ is pronounced as a mute h.

The main difficulty with correctly pronouncing Slàinte Mhath is that you should never pronounce it the way you read it. In addition, there are different types of pronunciation. The Gaelic language is characterized by dialects. The pronunciation can sound different depending on where the speaker comes from. In Ireland, Sláinte Mhaith is pronounced more like slonsche vay.

How do you respond to Slàinte Mhath?

In response to Slàinte Mhath, a simple short Slàinte form of the Gaelic which wishes health is sufficient however Do dheagh Slàinte (to your very good health) or a reply of Slàinte Mhath is also fine. In Irish, the response to sláinte is sláinte agatsa, which roughly translates as ‘to your health as well’.

Do you also say Slàinte Mhath in Irish?

Yes. Sláinte Mhaith is oft pronounced as slonsche vay in Ireland but a number of variations exist. Dialects of Irish are the language itself as there is no real standardized Irish. A distinction is made mainly between the main dialects of Munster, Connacht and Ulster, which in turn are divided into geographically separated sub-dialects. As already mentioned, Scottish Gaelic is closely related to Irish, though the Irish write it Sláinte Mhaith.

How is Slàinte mhath correctly spelled?

The correct spelling is Slainte Mhath in Scotland with the accent over the ‘a’ in Slàinte. In Ireland however, Sláinte is written with an accent aigu. In addition, the mhath is spelled differently: “mhaith”.

FAQs

How do you pronounce Slainte Mhath?

Slàinte Mhath is pronounced “slanschewaa” or “slansche “va”. However the Gaelic language is characterized by dialects and the pronunciation can sound different depending on where the speaker is coming from.

How do you pronounce Slainte?

Sláinte is pronounced as “slanschewaa” or “slansche". Sláinte meaning health, is a traditional Scottish and Irish greeting meaning cheers. .

How do you respond to Slainte Mhath?

If the speaker is Scottish the traditional response is "do dheagh shlainte" meaning to your good health, the Irish equivelent is sláinte agatsa. However for non-native speakers a simple Slàinte will usually sufficient as an answer to “Slàinte Mhath”.

How do you say cheers in Scottish?

The simple Slàinte is the short form of the Gaelic toast and wishes "health." The long form from Slàinte Mhath expresses it in more detail with “good health” both versions are pronounced the same in Ireland though the Irish spelling is Slàinte Mhaith. If you're in Ireland and feeling especially brave, you can instead try sláinte is táinte "slansche iss toin-che" which wishes both health and wealth.

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