Labhair Gaeilge liom

I just watched a video of an interview in Irish that Benny Lewis did on Raidió na Life, the Irish language radio station in Dublin. Benny mentions that he has had a t-shirt made with “Labhair Gaeilge liom” (Speak Irish with me) on it and that people who see the shirt speak Irish to him, if they can, even in places where he didn’t expect to find Irish speakers.

What a good idea, I thought. In Ireland you can’t tell if someone speaks Irish just by looking at them, so you never know who to speak Irish to, and people don’t know if you speak Irish either. A t-shirt like Benny’s clears up both uncertainties. The same is true in Wales, Scotland and other places where minority languages are spoken – you don’t know who speaks them. Similar clothing or badges could be useful for other languages as well.

It would be interesting to wander round London, for example, wearing a t-shirt with “Labhair Gaeilge liom” and/or “Siaradwch Gymraeg â fi” (Speak Welsh with me) to say how many Irish and/or Welsh speakers you could find. Or I’m sure you’d get a lot of interest if you wore a badge saying “你可以跟我说汉语” (You can speak Chinese to me).

Have you tried this for any languages?

Could you give me translations of this phrase in various languages so I can put together a new phrases page?

This entry was posted in Chinese, English, Irish, Language, Language learning, Welsh.

25 Responses to Labhair Gaeilge liom

  1. Tomas says:

    Cool idea!

    Czech: Se mnou můžete mluvit česky.
    Swedish: Du kan prata svenska med mig.

  2. Jerry says:


    In Dutch: “Je kunt Nederlands met me praten” or (shorter, so larger letters on t-shirt) “Ik spreek Nederlands”.

  3. bulbul says:

    The question is, what do we want? An announcement (“You can speak X to me”) or an exhortation/challenge (“Speak X to me!”). Come to think of it, in some languages, one works better than the other:

    Slovak: Môžete so mnou hovoriť po slovensky.
    Polish: Ze mną można mówić po polsku.
    Hungarian: Beszéljen magyarul velem!
    Finnish: Voit puhua suomea minun kanssani.
    German: Mit mir kann man Deutsch sprechen.
    Luxembourgish: Dir kënnt mat mir Lëtzebuergesch schwätzen.
    Spanish: Puede hablar español conmigo.
    Modern Standard Arabic (to a man): ممكنك أن تتكلم معي بالعربي
    Modern Standard Arabic (to a woman): ممكنك أن تتكلمي معي بالعربي
    Maltese: Tista’ tkellimni bil-Malti.

  4. bulbul says:

    Brazilian Portuguese: Você pode falar em português comigo.
    Romanian: Puteţi să vorbiţi cu mine în româna. (Not so sure on this one)
    Afrikaans: Jy kan Afrikaans praat met my.

  5. Aidan says:

    That’s a really good idea because it really is a problem finding people willing and able to speak Irish in the urban areas, there are so many protocols associated with when it is okay to engage with somebody in Irish. When I was younger in the gaeltacht you could buy badges that said “Labhair Béarla liom agus brisfidh mé do phus” (“Speak English to me and I’ll smash your face”). This is a more polite way of conveying the same message 😉

  6. Aidan says:

    Simon, just for fear of somebody getting a t-shirt made up, I think that there is a typo in the Irish one, shouldn’t it be “Labhair Gaeilge liom”?

  7. Lev says:

    If someone can speak a language, they usually can write “Speak X to me” in that language themselves.

  8. Lev says:

    In French, it’s “tu peux”, not “tu peut”.

  9. dreaminjosh says:

    You can write it “tu peuts” or “tu peux”

  10. Benny Lewis says:

    Glad you liked my t-shirt idea 🙂 Yes, I did indeed have random people who didn’t know me, start speaking Irish with me! In Ireland we already have the circular badge (aka Fáinne) that people traditionally wear to let others know that they are a Gaeilgeoir, however the loudness of my t-shirt makes it stand out more and opens you up to more opportunities 😉

    I’m actually going to make a video specifically about how great my t-shirt and similar ones have been in a couple of weeks for spontaneous opportunities to practise languages in the most unlikely of places. I’ll definitely link to your new “speak to me in” page!! Great initiative!

    I agree with Aidan about the Gaeilge typo. And I’d switch the order you did for Chinese and make 汉语 the non-parenthesis one, since people would probably expect mainland China’s Chinese to take precedence over Taiwanese Mandarin.

    A couple more to add to the list:
    Esperanto: Parolu Esperanton kun mi!
    Italian: Parla italiano con me

  11. prase says:

    There are actually two different Gaeilge typos! One in the headline and another in the second sentence.

  12. Esther Brown says:

    Ido, Volapük, Interlingua, Interlingue, and Occitan, please!

  13. TJ says:

    Just a tiny correction to the Arabic phrases by Bulbul:

    (to a male): يمكنك أن تتحدث معي العربية
    (to a female): يمكنكِ أن تتحدثي معي العربية

    There are many ways to say this phrase mainly because the verb “to talk” got more than one equivalent in Arabic. Examples:
    تتحدث (tatah’addath)
    (tatakallam) تتكلم
    ( toxát’ib) تخاطب
    (tokallim) تكلم

    Each verb might require a change in prepositions and the order of the words within the phrase.
    Anyway, a little fact: Even though in everyday life and in various dialects of Arabic people use the word [?araby] (عربي) … and it is even used in that manner in computer applications -and this form is a masculine adjective-, yet originally the languages’ names in Arabic should be in feminine form, like:
    العربية (Arabic)
    العبرية (Hebrew)
    الانكليزية ، الانجليزية (English)
    الفرنسية (French)
    الغيلية (Gaelic)

    This is generally because when we say a name of a language we are referring to the original feminine word: Language – لغة [Lughah], thus we have to use feminine adjectives and not masculine ones.

    It follows then, if I was to translate the phrase above, I should use العربية and not عربي.

  14. Laurits says:

    I have a t-shirt that says “Öva svenska med mig” (practise Swedish with me). I live in Helsinki where 6% of the population are native Swedish-speakers and Swedish is a compulsory subject in school for the rest of the population. It happens occasionally that some of my Swedish-speaking friends come up to me a say: “What a cool t-shirt.” But it has never happened that anyone I didn’t already know started speaking Swedish to me because of my t-shirt.

  15. Greg says:

    It is in cases like this when Georgian’s tricky agglutinative grammar actually allows for short and sweet phrases; the literal and very much appropriate translation of ‘speak to me in Georgian’ would simply be მელაპარაკე ქართულად – melaparake kartulad.

  16. Greg says:

    Although I should add that a plural/formal form of ‘speak to me’ might be a better choice in such a case; მელაპარაკეთ ქართულად – melaparaket kartulad.

  17. Andrew says:

    I love that idea and would like to try it with Spanish, though how well this would work would depend on the language in question and your location. I could see it working well for Spanish around here in Texas where I’m at (I think most Spanish-speakers around here would be excited to see someone trying to learn their language) but I can definitely see that backfiring in places like Southern California or Miami.


  18. Declan says:

    There’s always the ring that somebody promoted at one stage.

  19. Michael says:

    한국말로 말해도/얘기해도 돼요.
    It’s okay to speak Korean (with me).
    한국말로 말해요/얘기해요.
    I speak Korean./Let’s speak Korean.

  20. Michael says:

    You can speak to me in Taiwanese/Min-nan.

  21. David Eger says:

    “Raidió na Life, the Irish language radio station in Belfast”

    Forgive me for nitpicking, but wouldn’t that be Dublin? Belfast is on the River Lagan.

  22. David Eger says:

    Runājiet latviski ar mani. (Latvian)

  23. Simon says:

    Well spotted David – I was thinking of Raidió Fáilte when I wrote that.

  24. Yenlit says:

    A Greek friend of mine on Twitter @paraskevee tells me the Greek version would be
    μίλα μου στα ελληνικά

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